I spent many years being a tofu skeptic. When I first turned veggie, I had soft, squidgy, tofu in an oriental dish and it almost turned me off for life! Since then I have come to love my soya bean based friend. Through experimenting with different varieties of tofu I discovered that it’s definitely what you do with it that counts. I’ll run through the main types of tofu found in the shops and the best ways I’ve learnt to use them.
This is a very soft variety of tofu which has a kind of jelly like consistency. I would never use it in “chunks” in dishes, as it is just too soft. My favourite use for this by far is for scrambled tofu, which I have either on toast or as part of a vegan fry up! There are soft and firm varieties, although both are soft in comparison to other tofu types, the latter being better for scrambled tofu. It’s simply mashed up with a fork and fried with a little garlic, seasoning and a dollop of eggless mayo.
Soft silken tofu is great for cheesecake recipes and is also used in some vegan muffin recipes, as it gives cakes a moist, spongy consistency. In the UK this can be bought in most supermarkets, often found with the rice and other dry products in the oriental section.
Blocks of plain tofu are more solid than silken tofu and often packed in brine. In Chinese supermarkets it’s usually possible to buy a large block for a low price or you might get smaller blocks for a little more money in health food shops. I really like the brand clear spot which is relatively cheap but just as yummy when used in cooking!
This type of tofu needs to be marinated and cooked, but its worth the effort. Frying after marinating and rolling in flour makes the tofu crunchy on the outside with the soft middle remaining on the inside. Delicious! After cooking you could use it in curry, stews or just eat as it is with some veg! This tofu is also good for making a battered “fish” dish. Wrap a small slab in a sheet of seaweed, dip in batter and deep fry. You may be removing some of the health properties of tofu by this point, but we all deserve a naughty treat now and then!
The king of tofu in my opinion. This stuff is hard to prepare without slipping a bit in your gob before the meal officially begins! I prefer not to cook this with anything else because the flavour is so good on its own. Stick to using in salads and sandwiches. It tastes particularly good with avocado and hummus. A few brands are available in most health food shops. The smokier the better!
Other flavoured tofu
In Chinese supermarkets you can often find vac-packed solid tofu blocks flavoured with five spice or chilli. These are perfect for a quick stir fry as they need no preparation. I’ve also used them with pasta and in wraps. The solid consistency is great for anyone who is not keen on the soft tofu and they add great bite to any dish.
Tofu is made from the curd of soya milk and is extremely versatile and healthy. See here for in-depth information on nutritional and health benefts. Do you have a favourite tofu? Share your recipes below!