I’m starting to eat tofu more, and need advice about using it at home. I’m wondering about storing it, the difference in consistencies (smooth, silken and so forth), etc.? I’m not sure what to do. – S.V.
Even card-carrying meat and potato eaters like myself are starting to observe meatless Monday’s more these days, since it makes sense for both ecological and health reasons. While there are many non-animal sources of protein available to us with beans, legumes, and other vegan meat substitutes – tofu (soy bean curd) is probably the one we all reach for first. It has been around for centuries (it’s a common ingredient in most Asian cuisines), inexpensive, readily available, and easy to use once you know how.
From a handling and storage point of view – tofu has quite a long shelf life when refrigerated in the liquid and vacuum sealed containers we find it in grocery stores, but once you break that seal and drain it you should treat it like any other protein. Keep it covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days, or toss it. Alternatively, you can freeze tofu both before and after it is cooked for up to 3 months.
The consistency has to do with the amount of liquid that remains in the curd when it is made. A general rule of thumb, you would use firm or extra firm tofu in stir-fry’s, grilled, and baked dishes. Be sure to drain as much of the moisture as you can before cooking (I love how easy my Tofu Xpress makes the process). Choose soft or silken tofu to make great dips, sauce thickener, and desserts.
Tofu has a pretty insipid flavor on it’s own, but absorbs marinades, seasonings, and sauces well. I’m personally not keen on the gelatinous texture of firm or extra firm tofu, so I like to freeze mine before I drain, marinate and prepare it. The crystals that form from the liquid within create little crevices and change the texture, so that when I defrost, drain, and crumble the tofu it has an almost ground meat texture to it. In fact, my crispy ginger tofu recipe goes down a storm with almost all of my clients, even the ones who think they hate tofu.
Please join the Personal Chef Approach™ to try all my tofu recipes (Pineapple Teriyaki Tofu, BBQ Baked Tofu, Fusion Snow Pea & Tofu Soba Noodles, Blueberry Tofu, and Tofu Marsala). Did you know you can substitute tofu in almost any chicken or pork recipe?