Raise your hand if you run screaming at the mention of tofu. Or if you just threw up a little bit in your mouth.
Now tell me, why the tofu-phobia? Have you had a bad experience with tofu? Did tofu steal your boyfriend? Did tofu key your car?
Have you ever tried tofu?
Or does tofu just scare the living bajeezus out of you?
For most of us, I think that’s exactly it. Tofu is unfamiliar territory. It’s not on every menu. The appearance and texture are rather alien. The packaging is strange. And most of all…how the hell you do cook it?
Well, because we here at Model Behaviors are all about support, lifting others up, opening our minds, and spreading the love…how about we show a little love for tofu this week?! I’m here to solve all the mysteries, answer your questions, and guide you through this brand-new spongy world, and of course I’ll leave you with one of my favorite recipes!
First I want to answer some of the most common tofu FAQs.
1. What is tofu?
Tofu is a soybean based curd—basically condensed soy milk curdled with a coagulant. Making tofu relies on a process similar to making cheese.
2. What are the benefits of eating tofu?
Tofu is a great meat substitute for vegans and vegetarians, but it’s also a great protein source for anyone. It’s a nutrient-dense, low-calorie, high-protein, versatile ingredient which makes it a perfect option for nearly any dish. There are other potential benefits including a possible link to decreased risk of diabetes and certain cancers, but that is still up for debate in some circles.
3. What do I look for when buying tofu?
You will find tofu in many forms, but in my opinion the best (and most commonly sold) option is the individual block of fresh tofu in water-filled packaging. This can be found in the refrigerated section of your grocery store, usually near the produce. I always select the organic, non-GMO brand, as there is much controversy about genetically modified soybeans in the US. Choose from firm or extra firm for the majority of your dishes in which tofu will be cooked and served as a meat substitute. I prefer extra firm.
4. How do you prepare tofu?
One of the best things about tofu is its versatility. Tofu can be eaten raw, marinated, fried, grilled, sautéed, and more.
No matter how you plan to cook it, tofu should first be prepared. Don’t worry. It’s easy!
Open your water-filled package, remove the block of tofu and rinse it. In order to get the tofu to soak in and retain flavoring from marinades or in cooking, as well as to achieve a more enjoyable texture, you must drain the tofu of most of its excess water. I like to slice my tofu into about 1-inch “steaks” first. This cuts down on the time it takes to drain. But you can certainly leave the block intact if desired. I use an old baking sheet (with sides) lined with several paper towels as the base, line up my tofu steaks, cover with a stack of 2-3 additional paper towels, and top with a second baking sheet. I then place a book, canned goods or anything else of moderate weight on top and leave to drain for about an hour.
Now we’re ready to cook or marinate our tofu! If you choose to marinate, simply place the drained/pressed tofu into a food storage container and pour your marinade over the top. Seal and refrigerate for about an hour.
5. How do you store tofu?
If unopened and refrigerated, refer to the expiration date on your package of fresh, water-packed tofu. Once opened, fresh tofu does unfortunately go bad quite quickly. It will last about a week in the refrigerator, but it must be sealed tightly in a container of water, and the water must be changed daily. You can also freeze tofu for two to three months. Because you can easily buy the individual blocks in most stores, there’s not usually much extra to store after cooking a dish for two to four people.
6. Now how do you cook it??
As I keep saying, there are endless delicious ways to cook tofu! Simply Google “best tofu recipes” and be prepared to spend hours drooling over what the Internet has to offer! For today’s recipe, I do a quick pan-fry of my tofu with added sauce.
And now for one of my favorite tofu recipes!
It’s no secret that I love a good “one bowl” dinner, and as I mentioned a few months ago, I’m always looking for ways to pack in the protein. On a recent trip to one of our local food truck spots, my husband and I visited our favorite vendor offering Vietnamese Bánh Mi sandwiches. We opted to split one of the rice bowls with tofu rather than a sandwich, and I knew immediately that I needed to recreate this dish for our rotating weekly menu at home.
I found a great sauce recipe online to flavor my tofu and combined it with my favorite elements of the food truck rice bowl. It was a hit! No worries if you don’t have all the ingredients. One of the beautiful things about these bowl dishes is that you can add or subtract as you wish and tailor it to your liking (or to your pantry)! And several of the ingredients can be purchased at a local market if you don’t have time to make them yourself, including the pickled veggies and condiments.
- 2 cups cooked jasmine rice
- (1) 14-oz block organic extra firm fresh tofu, drained and cubed
- 3 tbs cornstarch, divided
- 3 tbs coconut oil, divided
- ½ tbs sesame oil
- ½ tbs rice vinegar
- 1.5 tbs soy sauce
- Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
- ½ tbs fresh grated ginger
- ½ tbs fresh minced garlic
- 1.5 tbs brown sugar
- 1 tbs water
- ½ Cucumber, washed and sliced
- Red Cabbage, washed drained and sliced
- Pickled Carrots and Daikon (purchase from a local market or make your own)
- Sriracha Mayonnaise
- Cilantro Cream Sauce
- Prepare two cups of jasmine rice and set aside.
- Drain/press tofu according to directions above. After about an hour, slice tofu into 1.5” cubes and coat in 1 tbs of cornstarch.
- Whisk together (or put into a food processor) remaining cornstarch, sesame oil, and next seven ingredients (rice vinegar through water) to make sauce. Set aside or refrigerate.
- Add 2 tbs coconut oil to skillet over medium/medium-high heat. Once heated, add cubed tofu and cook for 3-5 minutes, turning cubes several times throughout.
- Add a few spoonsful of your prepared sauce to the skillet, toss the cubes to coat, and cook for 2-3 additional minutes. Reserve extra sauce for tomorrow night! Remove tofu from skillet and set aside.
- Add remaining 1 tbs coconut oil to skillet and heat again over medium/medium-high. Add cabbage and cook/stir fry 2-3 minutes or until tender. Remove and set aside.
- Dividing ingredients in half, fill each bowl starting with rice and adding tofu, cucumber, cabbage, pickled carrots and daikon and cilantro. Drizzle with Sriracha mayo and cilantro cream sauce.
Make sure to send us photos if you try your hand at this dish!
To make life a little easier for you, I’ve created a free shopping list for you to print out. It has all the ingredients that you’ll need, plus plenty of space for the rest of your shopping items. Simply click on the banner below and print the PDF. Happy cooking, my friends!
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