Arguably one of the most popular vegan proteins, tofu, tends to be quite divisive among the general population. Some people seem to think that tofu is bland and has a weird texture, but I beg to differ.
Tofu is so versatile, and there are lots of different varieties. How exciting your tofu is depends entirely on your own creativity and cooking skills.
Plain tofu doesn’t have much of a taste since it takes on the flavors of seasonings and marinades it absorbs. There is a mild soy flavor. The texture of tofu is soft and spongy, similar to a mushroom.
It’s an excellent addition to lots of other dishes, and it can be used as the main ingredient in its own right.
You can eat tofu raw or cook it in a myriad of different ways. This underrated protein is a favorite of mine, and I hope you can give tofu another chance if you don’t current consider yourself a tofu fan.
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What Are the Different Kinds of Tofu, and What Do They Taste Like?
There are five main types of tofu based on firmness:
- extra firm
Silken tofu is probably the type of tofu people think about if they say tofu is slimy and gross. This is because silken tofu is very soft- almost like jelly.
Silken tofu is a bit more challenging to work with than the other types of tofu because it’s pretty fragile. You can great really creative with silken tofu, though!
The different types of tofu all taste reasonably similar and bland unless they’ve been flavored with something. Supermarkets often sell plain tofu, as well as tofu, which has been seasoned with different herbs and spices.
If you’re worried about getting enough calcium on a vegan diet, you can look for tofu that has been fortified. Organic tofu often is.
How firm your tofu is depends on how much water was pressed out of it when it was made. This is essentially the only difference between silken and extra firm tofu.
The firmer your tofu is, the more fat and protein it’s going to contain since it’s denser and condensed. This is worth thinking about if you want to use tofu as a direct substitute for meat- the firmer, the better.
Firm and extra-firm tofu is firm like a block. Silken tofu has a texture similar to jelly, and soft and medium tofu are somewhere between.
Firm tofu can be quite crumbly and dry, and once it’s cooked, it holds its shape well. Silken tofu falls apart quickly, and you don’t even need to chew it because it’s so soft.
Most tofu has a mild taste that can be described as a very gentle, soy taste, which I think is very refreshing.
How Should I Store Tofu?
Most tofu you find will be in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. When you bring it home, you should continue to store the tofu in the refrigerator both before and after opening.
Some tofu packages can be stored at room temperature though. This tofu will be found in the regular non-refrigerated aisles of the grocer.
If you haven’t opened this type of tofu packet yet, you can store it in a cupboard until you’re ready to use it. Once you’ve opened it, it should be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Depending on how firm your tofu is, you may need to store it with some water in the packaging. I personally don’t think this is necessary for firm or extra firm tofu but is good for softer tofu.
With these types of tofu you can wrap them up tightly and keep them in the fridge. Try to eat all of the packages within a few days, though.
Also, when you take the tofu out of the refrigerator, you should wash it off before using it.
When storing softer tofu, you need to leave some water in the container or packaging so that it doesn’t dry out. Try to eat all of the tofu within a few days after opening.
It’s also best to change the water in the packaging every day. Otherwise, you run the risk of mold growing on your tofu.
How Can I Prepare and Use Tofu?
Since there are so many different types of tofu, there are lots of different ways you can use it in cooking. I like using both raw and cooked tofu.
Raw tofu is an excellent addition to salads and sandwiches, and you can eat it straight out of the packet. You can crumble it over the top of dishes like a feta cheese replacement.
Most people prefer cooked tofu, though, and there are plenty of ways to cook it. Tofu takes on the flavor of the dish’s seasonings so it will work in almost any dish.
Silken tofu is a pretty common base ingredient in vegan cooking. You can use silken tofu to thicken up sauces or dressings, for example.
Since the flavor is so mild, lots of people blend silken tofu up and use it in desserts, like chocolate puddings and soufflés. Traditionally, silken tofu is added to soup, either as a whole cube or in smaller chunks.
You can also use silken tofu as an egg substitute while baking. Vegan eggs are sometimes pretty difficult to find at the supermarket, so silken tofu is a fantastic alternative.
It’s worth noting that silken tofu is supposed to be soft and watery, so you should never press it.
Soft tofu is similar to silken tofu, but it holds its shape more. This makes it a better option for adding to most soups or Asian-style dishes, like ramen.
Since you’re not going to be using soft tofu as a texture but actually eating it, it’s essential that whatever you eat, the soft tofu has a strong flavor on its own.
Soft tofu absorbs the flavor of whatever you serve it with, so if you serve it with something bland, it won’t taste like much.
My favorite method of preparing medium tofu is as a scramble, in the same way, that you would scramble eggs. Tofu doesn’t taste like eggs, but you can scramble it up in a similar fashion, which makes for a delicious and hearty breakfast when served with greens and toast.
You can also use it in other dishes where you might use egg- fried rice with scrambled tofu, for example.
Firm & Extra-Firm Tofu
Firm and extra-firm tofu are your best bet if you want to use tofu as a meat substitute. These types of tofu are hard enough to eat right out of the packet, but they are also fantastic fried.
You can also bake firm and extra-firm tofu or try grilling them. Extra-firm tofu is hard enough for you to sautée or even barbeque. The only limit when you use tofu is your imagination!
Tofu is a versatile food since it takes on the flavors of whatever dish you add it to. Tofu has a spongy texture with a slight soy taste that is pleasant. Its high protein content makes it a great vegan meat substitute.
There are a few types of tofu based on density and water content. When choosing tofu, your intended use will determine what firmness you need.
What did you think of the flavor of tofu the first time you had it? Which kind is your favorite?