Shoestring Meals - Tofu convert

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02-19-2011, 10:43 PM
Tofu is usually cheap (even cheaper if you learn to make it yourself. The process looks easy on youtube), but I've never been a huge tofu fan. I like a lot of restaurant tofu dishes, but I've never had a lot of luck with it myself. I've never gotten the taste/texture right (without deepfrying or adding a lot of fat).

Last night hubby made a tofu salad (we were having dinner guests, one a vegetarian) and I made meatless pad siew.

After more than 8 years of marriage, I had no idea very-not-vegetarian hubby was such a whiz with tofu. I did know that he worked as a chef in a very upscale 4-start chinese restaurant, but he'd always said he "hated tofu" unless it was deep-fried.

The secret (apparently) is pressing the tofu before marinating. We bought firm tofu at the grocery store (Walmart, no less). He would have bought extra-firm, but it only came pre-cubed.

At home, he unwrapped the tofu, put it in a shallow dish and put a plate on top of the tofu, with a couple cans on the plate to press the liquid out of the tofu. He let it press for a couple hours. Then placed the pressed (and drained) tofu in a simple teriyaki/rice vinegar marinade.

He sliced assorted veggies very, very thin on the bias (bell pepper, carot, green onion, savoy cabbage), and added them to the marinade.

Just before serving he heated a little bit of canola oil and sesame oil and poured it over the tofu (something he'd seen on the create channel's Simply Ming).

WOW, it was really good. The texture was almost like cheesecake, without even a hint of "plastic" flavor (tofu picks up the flavor of whatever it's with. So it can pick up the flavor of the container).

I may actually have to learn to make tofu, it was that good.

02-19-2011, 10:56 PM
I, too, never had luck with cooking with tofu at home. I may just have to pick some up next week, as I'll be living the single life (my parents are going to be out of town at the end of the month). They're not very adventurous in their eating habits, so I get to experiment when they're not here. Thanks for the idea!

02-19-2011, 11:35 PM
I love tofu- it's so versatile; you can change the texture and flavor drastically to suit so many different dishes. But when marinating tofu, the key is indeed to press it. I usually put it between layers of paper towels and put several heavy books on top of it.

Another method I might suggest, if you want an even firmer/chewier texture is to freeze it. Press, freeze, thaw, and then press again and marinate.

I think the only thing I don't press it for is tofu scramble.. I just drain and squeeze it a bit over the sink and crumble into my pan with the veggies. :T

katy trail
02-19-2011, 11:43 PM
i so want to make that work! i never have success with it either.

02-20-2011, 07:57 AM
Much like Horo, I've learned about freezing, then thawing & pressing tofu.

I don't do the preliminary pressing, though. As soon as I get it home from the grocery store, I stick it into the freezer.

This works well when I find it on sale & buy more than one.

02-25-2011, 04:16 PM
I have a dedicated tofu press that just makes things slightly easier. I've heard that pickle presses (you can find them in asian markets) can also press tofu with much success.

I love baked tofu, probably more than I should :)