How to Cook Tofu at Home: Simple Tofu Cooking Tips

How to Cook Tofu at Home: Easy Tofu Cooking Tips

How to Cook Tofu at Home
Simple Tips on How to Cook Tofu at Home

Tofu – when prepared properly, it may be quite addicting, or it can be extremely unappealing, even to the most die-hard tofu fans.

Cooking tofu in a soup can be intimidating if you’ve never worked with it before.

But, once you’ve learned a few tricks, it’s a piece of cake to make delicious tofu! You’ll discover my finest tips and tactics for cooking tofu like a pro down below.

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So, what really is tofu? How to Cook Tofu

Tofu is a soy-based meal created by curdling soy milk and pressing it into a solid block. It’s an excellent source of plant-based protein that can be utilized in a variety of recipes.

It’s a terrific supplement to vegetarian and vegan diets, but even if you consume meat, I recommend giving it a try.

I don’t use tofu as a meat replacement in my dishes, but rather as something unique and tasty in its own right!

Tofu is not only popular in Asian cuisine, but it also provides a great source of protein and absorbs the flavors of the foods it is cooked with for vegetarians and vegans.

It can also be roasted, fried, deep-fried, boiled (as in soups), and in other ways.

With supermarkets selling tofu in what appears to be dozens of different variations, it can be a little perplexing.

Fortunately, when you make it at home, you can choose how firm it is – so it’s the right consistency for whatever use you need it for. And don’t fret if you’re reading this and wondering what I’m on about — I go over the many variations below.

I’ve included two methods for creating tofu for beginners in the post, one of which uses lemon juice rather than a coagulant that may be more difficult to obtain.

Tofu and what is tofu made of? How to Cook Tofu

Tofu (also known as ‘bean curd’) has become a kitchen staple all across the world.

Tofu is thought to have originated in China about 2000 years ago when someone mistakenly combined soy milk with a coagulant.

The end product was curdling milk with solids that could be squeezed into shape.

Tofu is produced in a manner similar to that of cheese. In fact, it reminded me a lot of my recipe for handmade paneer – the difference being that tofu is derived from soybeans rather than dairy.

I understand that soy products might be contentious due to the fact that the majority of beans farmed in the United States are genetically engineered (GMO).

While studies suggest that they are safe to ingest, GMOs are a contentious issue.

Fortunately, you can buy organic, non-GMO soybeans if that is what you choose while cooking any soy cuisine.

These will, nonetheless, be more expensive than their non-organic, GMO counterpart.

The Different Types of Tofu ~ How to Cook Tofu

When purchasing tofu at a store, you have a variety of texture options to pick from. Silken, soft, firm, and extra hard are some of the options, with others thrown in for good measure.

Depending on your preferences, you can even get flavored and smoked versions.

If you’re not sure what the distinction between these is, don’t worry:

Silken Tofu

In terms of appearance, silken tofu is the most ‘distinctive.’

Silken tofu has a custardy texture, is unpressed, and is used as a dairy substitute in puddings, pies, sauces, salad dressings, smoothies, and ice cream, and can even be used to replace eggs, butter, and cream.

The coagulant is added to help it ‘set,’ but depending on how solid it is, it frequently does not keep its shape when pushed.

*Note: Soft–firm silken tofu is also available. Even firm silky, on the other hand, has the texture of jelly at best and is not ‘solid.’

The next three options are all types of pressed tofu. The difference is how much they have been crushed and how much water has been pressed out of them.

Again, like with my handmade paneer recipe, the method you press your curds has a significant impact on the final texture of the result.

It’s also worth mentioning that the nutritional contents differ depending on the kind.

The softer kinds have the greatest water and the least protein, whereas the firmest varieties have the most protein.

To bear in mind, the firmer the tofu, the more difficult it is for flavors to permeate.

Soft Tofu

Soft tofu is comparable to silky tofu but has been lightly pressed as a block.

This is my preferred texture for miso soups and other ramen dishes, such as Japanese-inspired Ramen Noodle Soup.

Regular/ Firm Tofu

Regular/ Firm tofu has been pressed for a longer period of time, so it keeps its shape better but is still soft enough to be utilized in recipes like scrambled tofu.

I combine the two types because I find that the texture, especially when purchasing store-bought, varies greatly from brand to brand in terms of how well it retains its shape.

Extra Firm Tofu

Extra Firm tofu is ideal for any cuisine that calls for chopping or slicing tofu. It’s fantastic for frying, baking, and grilling.

This tofu is my go-to for a meat-free protein alternative, and I’ll use it as the major protein source in a number of cuisines.

When creating homemade tofu, you may determine how firm you want your tofu by adjusting the amount of coagulant used and how much you press your tofu.

How to Cook Tofu – Tofu Cooking Directions

Tofu has a terrible reputation as a meat substitute, but it’s actually a very versatile ingredient.

It has a nice creamy texture when mixed and can be used to make a vegan mousse or pudding, as well as a creamy ricotta substitute in my lasagna and vegan stuffed shells.

I bake it most of the time to add protein and hearty texture to bowls, noodles, and salads.

It’s simple to use, but there are a few things you should be aware of before you begin cooking with it. Here are my best tofu cooking tips:

Make sure you choose the appropriate texture. It is available in food stores in a variety of textures, including silky, firm, and extra-firm.

Soft silky tofu is my preference for blending into desserts or slicing into miso soup, but extra-firm tofu is what you’ll need if you’re serving it as a main dish or topping it over bowls.

It has a heartier, thicker texture and contains less water than other forms of tofu. Nota bene: I prefer to use organic tofu prepared from non-GMO soybeans.

It should be pressed ~ How to Press Tofu

Tofu has a lot of water, so press the majority of it out before baking, grilling, or frying it. Tofu presses are sold at stores, but they are not required.

You can use a stack of books, or simply do what I do and lightly press it in a kitchen towel or paper towel with your hands.

(Just don’t  press too hard or it’ll fall apart!)

Spice. It. Up ~ How to Cook Tofu

Tofu gets a lot of flack for being bland, and that’s because it is! Make careful to season it thoroughly. You can marinade it or use the crispy baked tofu recipe below to create it:

How Do You Cook Tofu in the Microwave? How to Cook Tofu

We usually cook tofu in the oven or in a skillet, but the microwave method is very simple and produces really chewy (chicken-like) tofu that works best in stir fry and curries.

  • Cut the tofu lengthwise into small yet thick strips (around 1-2 inches).
  • In a microwave-safe bowl, layer tofu strips.
  • Add vegan Chicken broth powder and oil spray, or simply season with salt, pepper, or soy + sriracha marinade. Give it a good stir, making sure that each tofu piece is properly covered.
  • Re-layer the tofu in the bowl.
  • Microwave for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the tofu is dried and chewy.
  • To ensure consistent cooking, turn the tofu strips upside down after three minutes.
  • As the tofu cooks in the microwave, it tends to cling together. A nonstick oil spray comes in handy here.
  • Tofu strips placed along the border of the dish cook faster than those in the center. To avoid super-chewy or firm tofu, keep an eye on it constantly and remove the cooked tofu strips.
  • Don’t be concerned if your tofu strips get firm due to overcooking. If you put them in a broth or a curry, they will soak up the sauce and swell up without losing their bite.
How to Cook Tofu in the Oven/Bake Tofu

Baked tofu is extremely simple to cook, and the greatest part is that you can make a large quantity and preserve it in the refrigerator for a long time.

These little bits can be used in stir-fries, salads, curries, and even fried rice or lettuce wraps. The texture of these tofu bits ranges from crispy to chewy, making them ideal as a meat substitute in a variety of recipes.

  • To begin, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Then, marinate drained tofu in your favorite spices or seasonings. Curry powder, salt, garlic powder, or soy + sriracha sauce are my favorites.
  • Meanwhile, marinate the tofu for at least 30 minutes.
  • After that, place the tofu pieces on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 45 minutes.
  • Remember to turn the tofu bites halfway through cooking.
  • Lastly, allow the tofu bites to cool fully before storing.

NOTE: For a crispier texture, spray with oil and dust with cornstarch.

What is the best way to cook tofu in a pan? How to Cook Tofu

Firm or Extra Firm is the type.
Time
  • Sauté 15-20 minutes,
  • Fry: 9-12 minutes,
  • Scramble: 20-25 minutes,
Draining: Required

When it comes to cooking tofu in a skillet, you have three alternatives.

Tofu can be sautéed for 10-20 minutes over low-medium heat until the edges are crispy, or fried until golden brown.

If not, you may still break the tofu and make scrambled tofu by adding spices, salt, and sauce.

Sauté:
  • Preheat a cast iron or nonstick pan; if using cast iron, coat the pan with a few drops of oil before heating.
  • Add the marinated tofu pieces and cook on low to medium heat.
  • After a few minutes, gently turn each tofu piece to ensure that each side cooks evenly
  • Each batch of tofu may take up to 15-20 minutes to become completely crispy.
Fry:
  • Heat 4-5 tablespoons oil in a flat-bottomed pan, preferably cast iron.
  • Fry the marinated pieces in the hot oil until each side is golden brown.
  • Cook on medium heat so that the tofu does not burn in the pan.
  • Cook each side in the heated oil for 4-5 minutes.

NOTE: For the best results, slice the tofu medium-thin.

Scramble:
  • This is my favorite tofu meal.
  • To make scrambled tofu, begin with drained extra-firm or firm tofu.
  • Add a few drops of oil to the pan and allow it to heat evenly.
  • Now add the tofu, break it up with a spatula, and let it cook for a few minutes before seasoning.
  • To the scrambled tofu, you can also add pre-cooked vegetables, spring onions, and herbs.
  • For a lovely yellowish hue and a mellow curry flavor, add additional curry powder and turmeric if preparing Indian style.
  • Cook the tofu until it crumbles and feels dry, and the crumbles are brown.
What Is the Best Way to Cook Tofu in an Air Fryer?
  • Coat tofu pieces evenly with a mixture of soy sauce, sriracha, and 1 tablespoon corn starch.
  • Place the marinated tofu in the preheated air fryer and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges are crispy.
  • Turn the tofu cubes after 10 minutes to ensure that each side is cooked.
How Do You Press Tofu?

It is critical to prepare tofu before cooking it in any of the methods listed above. To achieve the finest results, drain the tofu the night before. You can also press tofu using any of these methods.

Method of the Microwave:
  • The simplest way to drain tofu is to cut it in half lengthwise and lay it in a microwave-safe basin.
  • Cook for two minutes on high, then turn and cook for another minute.
  • At the bottom of the bowl, you’ll notice drained water.
  • Drain the excess water, gently push to drain more liquid, and continue with your tofu preparation.
Traditional Method
  • Drain the tofu using a tofu press. Remove the extra water from the tofu package and cut it in half.
  • Place it in the tofu press and drain it until the tofu is dry.
  • Alternatively, arrange the tofu blocks on paper towels and a baking sheet or cutting board, then top with another paper towel and another baking sheet.
  • Place some weights (books, a gallon of water, or a juice bottle) on it and fully drain the tofu. (Approximately 4-5 hours)
  • Check the paper towels every half hour and replace them as needed. The paper towel will usually soak up the pressed water from the tofu.
Nutritional Information:

Because each process is unique and employs a different marinade and spices, the nutrition information for each tofu is unique. Here’s a breakdown of the nutrition information for each variety.

  • Fried Tofu – 77 calories/ 1 oz,
  • Baked Tofu – 76 calories/3.5 oz,
  • Air-fried – 76 calories/3.5 oz,
  • Scramble – 150 calories/ 1 cup,
  • Microwave Tofu – 76 calories/ 3.5 oz
  • Oven, Microwave, and Stovetop (air fryer, oven, microwave, and stovetop)
  • 1 pound tofu (Extra Firm)
Method of the Microwave
  • 1 tbsp powdered chicken broth
Oven Baking Method
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pan-Frying Technique
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon hot curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt to taste
The Air-Fry Method
  • 1 tbsp. Soy sauce + Sriracha sauce
  • 1 tbsp Corn Starch

How to Cook Tofu in the Microwave

  • Cut the tofu lengthwise and into tiny yet thick strips (around 1-2 inches).
  • Arrange tofu strips in a microwave-safe bowl.
  • Add vegan chicken broth powder and oil spray (this is what I used) or just salt, pepper, or soy + sriracha marinade. Give it a good swirl.
  • Re-layer the tofu in the bowl. Microwave for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the tofu is dried and chewy.
  • To ensure consistent cooking, turn the tofu strips upside down after three minutes.
How Do You Bake Tofu? How to Cook Tofu

Baking is my preferred technique for cooking tofu. It produces tasty, crisp cubes that are ideal for tossing into a stir fry, salad, or bowl! This is how I do it:

To begin, drain the tofu and press it gently in a kitchen towel or paper towel over the sink. Many baked tofu recipes recommend pressing it for 30 minutes or more, but that step isn’t required in my opinion. This process is SO much faster, and the results are delectable!

Next, cut it into 1-inch cubes and arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Toss the cubes with olive oil, tamari or soy sauce, and sriracha to coat. You could also add cornstarch to make it extra crispy if desired.

It’s delicious anyway, but I like it without the cornstarch. The cubes’ corners turn golden brown and caramelized, but the centers remain pleasant and chewy.

Finally, bake your cake! Preheat the oven to 425°F and cook the cubes until they are browned around the edges.

Enjoy!

  • 14 ounces extra-firm tofu, wiped dry and cubed
  • 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tamari
  • 1/2 teaspoon sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch, optional
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Combine the cubed tofu, olive oil, tamari, and sriracha in a mixing bowl. To make the tofu extra crispy, sprinkle with cornstarch and gently toss to coat.
  • Evenly distribute the tofu on the baking pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the edges are golden. Remove from heat and serve immediately.
What Is the Best Way to Cook Tofu in a Pan? How to Cook Tofu
Sauté:

Preheat a cast iron or nonstick skillet. Grease the pan with a few drops of oil before heating it if using cast iron.

Cook the marinated tofu slices in low to medium heat. After a few minutes, gently turn each tofu piece to ensure that each side cooks evenly.

Each batch of tofu may take up to 15-20 minutes to become completely crispy.

Fry

Heat 4-5 tablespoons oil in a flat-bottomed skillet, preferably cast iron.

Fry the marinated pieces in the heated oil until each side is golden brown.

Cook on medium heat so that the tofu does not burn in the pan. Allow each side to fry in the heated oil for 4-5 minutes.

NOTE: For the best results, slice the tofu medium-thin.

Scramble

In my view, this is the BEST tofu dish. Start with drained extra-firm or firm tofu if you wish to scramble it.

Allow the pan to heat evenly after adding a few drops of oil.

Now add the tofu, break it up with a spatula, and let it cook for a few minutes before seasoning.

To the scrambled tofu, you can also add pre-cooked vegetables, spring onions, and herbs.

For a lovely yellowish hue and a mellow curry flavor, add additional curry powder and turmeric if preparing Indian style. Cook until the tofu crumbles are golden brown and dry.

How to Cook Tofu for Curry

Directions

  • Firstly, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Then, add tofu cubes, season with seasoned salt and fry until golden on all sides, stirring intermittently for about 15 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  • After that, melt butter or margarine in the same skillet over medium heat. Then, add the onion and garlic; cook and stir until tender.
  • Lastly, stir in coconut milk, curry powder, salt, pepper, and cilantro. Return the tofu to the skillet. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring intermittently.
How Do You Cook Tofu in an Air Fryer? How to Cook Tofu
  • Place the marinated tofu in the air fryer and cook for 15-20 minutes at 370 F, or until the edges are crispy. (In my air fryer, it took 12-15 minutes.)
  • Don’t forget to turn the tofu cubes off after 10 minutes so that each side gets cooked.
  • As the tofu cooks in the microwave, it tends to cling together.
  • A nonstick oil spray comes in handy here. In addition, tofu strips placed around the edge of the dish fry faster than those in the center.

To avoid super-chewy or firm tofu, keep an eye on it constantly and remove the cooked tofu strips.

  • Don’t be concerned if your tofu strips get firm due to overcooking. If you put them in a broth or a curry, they will soak up the sauce and swell up without losing their bite.
  • Spray with oil and dust with cornstarch for a crisper texture. (Used in baking)
Nutrition Facts

Per Serving: 76 kilocalories

What Benefits Does Tofu Have? How to Cook Tofu

Tofu’s benefits are many: it is a high-protein, calcium, and iron source.

Tofu is one of the greatest low-fat plant-based protein choices for vegans, vegetarians, and plant-based eaters since it is low in cholesterol and fat.

What Is the Best Way to Cook Tofu Like Chicken? (Microwave Technique)
  • Cut the tofu lengthwise into small yet thick strips (around 1-2 inches). In a microwave-safe bowl, layer tofu strips.
  • Season with salt, pepper, or soy + sriracha marinade if using vegan chicken broth powder and oil spray. Give it a good stir, making sure that each tofu piece is properly covered.
  • In the bowl, layer the tofu once more.
  • Microwave for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the tofu is dried and chewy.
  • For even cooking, turn the tofu strips upside down after three minutes.
  • Cook the tofu until crispy.
  • Use any of the following methods: microwave, bake, pan-fry, or air-fry.
  • Pour in the curry paste, followed by the water and curry powder. Bring the sauce to a boil over high heat.
  • Add the crispy tofu and continue to cook the curry until it reaches the desired consistency.
  • Taste for salt and pepper.
  • Your tofu curry is complete.

Tofu coagulant types include

Gypsum ~ How to Cook Tofu

Is a naturally occurring calcium sulphate. Traditionally employed. It has a sweeter flavor.

Nigari

A seawater extract. Chloride of magnesium As an alternative, it is more commonly used.

Lemons

More especially, lemon juice causes the milk to curdle just as well, imparting a lemony flavor to the tofu.

I’ll show you how to create tofu using two different methods: gypsum and lemon juice.

They both function perfectly well, with the only difference being that the lemon version has a slight citrus flavor.

To be honest, I prefer the lemon version since I appreciate the extra flavor.

METHOD 1: Using Gypsum

Meanwhile, thoroughly combine the gypsum powder and water.

Turn off the fire as soon as the soy milk begins to boil and add the diluted gypsum!

Gently stir a few times, then set aside to allow the mixture to curdle.

Note: If no curdles form, increase the heat for a few minutes and add a little more gypsum.

  • Place a muslin cloth over your mold and use a skimmer spoon to deposit only the soybean curd into it.

While pressing, make sure the mold is positioned on top of something that can ‘collect’ the excess water from the curds.

  • Wrap the towel tightly around the curdled milk.
  • Place a hefty object on top of the muslin fabric to press it down. This will allow the tofu to solidify and shape.

Your firm tofu will be ready in 20 minutes.

Note: By varying the length of time you press it, you may pick between gentle and very firm. After 5-10 minutes, check and continue as required.

Refrigerate in an airtight jar for 3-4 days. Remember that if you’re not going to eat it the same day, it’s best to store it in a container filled with filtered cold water and change it daily, since tofu dries up quickly.

When you’re ready to cook it, after you’ve drained the tofu, blot it with paper towels and press it to remove any extra water before cooking as desired.

METHOD 2: Using Lemon Juice ~ How to Cook Tofu

After you’ve soaked your beans and created the milk, it’s time to proceed with the lemon juice tofu method:

Bring the mixture to a soft boil in a big pot over low-medium heat. Stir occasionally and use a wooden spoon to remove the foam skin that forms on top.

Meanwhile, squeeze the lemons. When the milk begins to boil, add the lemon juice and remove from the heat.

Set away after a few cautious stirs. Curdles will begin to form.

Note: If no curdles form, increase the heat for a few minutes and add a few more drops of lemon juice.

Once the bowl is full of curdles (this can take various times each time, so it’s difficult to estimate), place a muslin cloth over a mold and transfer the milk curdles with a skimmer spoon.

Wrap the towel tightly around the curdled milk.

Place a hefty object in the oven to press the fabric. This allows the tofu to solidify, harden, and drain any extra liquid.

Your firm tofu will be ready in 20 minutes. If you want it softer, examine it after 5-10 minutes and continue to push as needed.

This lemon tofu can be preserved in an airtight jar in the fridge for 3-4 days, just like the above procedure.

Remember that because tofu dries out rapidly, it’s better to store it in filtered water. The tofu can then be pressed as needed before cooking.

Method No. 1: The Gypsum Method
  • Meanwhile, mix the gypsum powder with a little water and stir well.
  • When the soy milk begins to boil, turn off the heat and add the diluted gypsum. Set away after a few cautious stirs. Curdles will begin to form.
  • Once the bowl is full of curdles, cover it with a muslin cloth and transfer the milk curdles with a skimmer spoon.

Wrap the milk curdles in the cloth securely (see video).

  • Use a hefty instrument to push the muslin fabric down. This will allow the tofu to solidify and shape.
  • Your firm tofu will be ready in 20 minutes. Less firm (softer) tofu will cook faster, so check after 5-10 minutes and push as needed.
Method 2: Using Lemon Juice
  • After you’ve soaked your beans and created the milk, it’s time to proceed with the lemon juice tofu method:
  • Pour the ingredients into a big pot and bring to a gentle boil over low-medium heat.

Stir occasionally and use a wooden spoon to remove the foam skin that forms on top.

  • Meanwhile, squeeze the lemons. When the milk begins to boil, add the lemon juice and remove from the heat.
  • Carefully stir a few times, then set aside. Curdles will begin to form. **
  • Once the bowl is full of curdles (this can take various times each time, so it’s difficult to estimate), place a muslin cloth over a mold and transfer the milk curdles with a skimmer spoon.

Wrap the towel tightly around the curdled milk.

  • Place a heavy object in the oven to press the cloth. This allows the tofu to solidify, harden, and drain any extra liquid.
  • Your firm tofu will be ready in 20 minutes. If you want it softer, examine it after 5-10 minutes and continue to push as needed.
  • Refrigerate your tofu in an airtight jar for 3-4 days. Tofu dries rapidly, so it’s better to store it in filtered water. You can then press it again before using it.

This can be saved and used for recipes, although I haven’t tested it yet.

*Note: If no curdles form, increase the heat for a few minutes and add a little more of the coagulant you’ve used (gypsum or lemon juice).

Frequently Asked Questions on How to Cook Tofu

Can Tofu be Eaten Raw ~ How to Cook Tofu

Yes, it can be eaten raw. It doesn’t have much flavor at this point, but it’s totally edible.

Can Tofu be frozen? How to Cook Tofu

Tofu can be frozen for up to 4-5 months. Tofu’s texture changes when it is frozen, yet this is often regarded as a good thing.

If you freeze and defrost your tofu before cooking it, it will be more ‘pocket-y’ and retain more flavor, resulting in crispier crispy tofu when fried, but also a chewier – more ‘meaty’ texture than if it was not frozen.

Can Tofu be Flavoured ~ How to Cook Tofu?

You can flavor your tofu at home, but I haven’t tried it because I normally add mine to sauces and high-flavor foods anyhow.

However, it is possible to flavor it in the same manner that cheese is flavored – with herbs, spices, and ‘sundries’ like olives and sundried tomatoes.

What does tofu taste like? How to Cook Tofu

What does tofu taste like is a question that I believe all newcomers struggle to find an answer to since the answer is – not much! But I like it since it allows you to shape it to your recipe and take up the flavors of the spices/sauce it’s cooked with.

How Do You Make Tofu? How to Cook Tofu

Excess liquid can be drained from the tofu by pressing it or heating it in the microwave.

Cut it into desired shapes and prepare it using any of the ways described in this article for crispy or spicy tofu.

If you have any questions about this tofu dish, please post them in the comments section below.

And I would love to see y’all recreations.

 

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