How to cook amazing tofu

how to cook tofu

Recently I have been asked a few times, what’s the best way to cook tofu? For the past two years, I’ve been eating a “flexitarian” diet (read What do flexitarians eat? to find out more) which means I have to be good at plant-based cooking. And more specifically, good at cooking tofu!

Tofu’s got a bad rep.

Tofu makes some people physically recoil with disgust. “Eugh, I HATE tofu” a friend at work once said to me. And that’s probably because a) they have bought shit quality tofu, b) made an absolute hash of cooking it or c) ate badly cooked tofu in a restaurant. So there’s no wonder they’ve been put off for life.

This post aims to showcase tofu in all it’s organic, delicious, flavour-absorbing glory. I’ll let you know which stuff to buy and most importantly – HOW TO COOK IT TO PERFECTION.

Tofu stir-fry

And if you love the planet we live on, this delicious, wholesome and satisfying ingredient should be a regular part of your diet anyway. Giving your body a break from scoffing animals can have positive impact on your health too. So there’s no better time than to master the art of cooking tofu!

Which brand to buy.

I’ll keep this section short by saying that the best supermarket brand of tofu is Tofoo. Plain organic, oriental or smoked – each flavour is great, just match it to the dish you’re cooking and you can’t go wrong.

Think of it like this – tofu is just like any other protein you’d spend your money and time on. You get what you pay for. Spend a little more and you’ll see an increase in quality.

Tofoo’s organic tofu is handmade, follows some ancient Japanese method and acts like the perfect sponge to soak up the flavours of whatever dish you’re cooking. Honestly, it’s delicious.

tofu in a satay Singapore noodle stirfry
Tofu in a spicy, satay Singapore noodle stir-fry

What you need.

To cook tofu well, you’ll need the following key bits:

  • Absorbent kitchen paper
  • An amazing non-stick pan (I use Circulon)
  • A good pair of kitchen tongues
  • Appropriate seasonings (see Step 6)

How to cook tofu perfect every time.

So here is my six-step guide to how to cook tofu. If you give it a go, tag @sophiesscran on Instagram I’d love to see how you get on!

Step 1: Heat a heavy-based, non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat, with 1 tbsp flavourless oil – I use a light rapeseed.

Note – not so hot that the pan smokes, but hot enough to get a gentle golden crisp. If in doubt start lower and increase the heat slowly.

Step 2: Whilst the oil heats up, remove all packaging from the tofu and hold over the sink to drain all liquid. Gently squeeze the block to encourage the liquid out. Wrap it in kitchen paper to absorb excess liquid.

Step 3: Once drained and excess liquid removed, cut the tofu into decent bite-sized chunks. I aim for 1cm x 2cm rectangles.

Step 4: Carefully place the tofu pieces into the heated oil, so that one side is flat on the base of the pan and they’re evenly spread apart. NOW LEAVE THEM BE for 3-4 minutes or until golden and crisp on the underside.

Tofu cooking in non-stick pan
Tofu cooking in good quality non-stick pan

Step 5: Once lightly crispy on the bottom, using a pair of tongues or a chopstick, gently turn each piece of tofu over 180 degrees, to brown and crisp the opposite side. Continue for 3-4 minutes as before. Once evenly cooked on both sides, toss around in the pan a little to cook the other edges.

Note: This method ensures a light and crispy outside and a soft and fluffy centre which will hold its texture and absorb flavours well.

Tofu - crispy on both sides, soft in the middle
Tofu – crispy on both sides, soft in the middle

Step 6: Season well. This will depend on the recipe but is vital. Tofu is like a sponge so will absorb what you decide to pimp it up with. Simple sea salt and black pepper work well. A drizzle of toasted sesame oil and chilli oil if adding to a stir-fry. Or sea salt, turmeric and tandoori spice mix before adding to a curry. Get creative but do no skip this step!

And honestly, that’s it.

Tofu with a bite taken so you can see the fluffy centre
Tofu with a bite taken so you can see the fluffy centre

Your tofu is now ready to be added to stir-fries, curries, noodle broths, breakfast burritos, stews or salads!

Seasoning is everything with tofu so make sure you don’t miss that final step and remember – as with everything – practice makes perfect, so if you mess it up on your first attempt like I did, DO NO LET THIS PUT YOU OFF. Give it another chance, and soon this will become a staple part of your diet, I swear!

Tofu in a breakfast burrito
Tofu in a breakfast burrito
Tofu in a Vietnamese pho with salmon
Tofu in a Vietnamese pho with salmon
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