Tofu, also known as bean curd, is a popular plant-based protein that has been a staple in Asian cuisine for centuries. Tofu has also gained popularity worldwide as a versatile and healthy plant-based protein. If you've never tried tofu, you might be wondering what does tofu taste like? Keep reading to find out about the flavor of tofu, how to cook, store it and more!
What is tofu?
Tofu is a protein-rich food that is made from soybeans. First, the soybeans are soaked and crushed, and then boiled. The mixture is then filtered to separate the soy milk from the solids. The soy milk is further processed to create tofu blocks. You can find detailed information about the production of tofu on Britannica.
Tofu comes in different varieties, such as silken, soft, firm, and extra firm. The variety of tofu is determined by the amount of water extracted during the pressing process.
What does tofu taste like?
Tofu has a subtle flavor that is almost bland, and slightly nutty taste. However, the taste of tofu can vary widely depending on the type of tofu and how it is prepared. Softer varieties of tofu have less flavor than firm tofu, which due to its spongy texture, can absorb the flavors that it is cooked with.
What are the different types of tofu?
There are a few different kinds of tofu that comes in variety of different textures, which are described below.
Silken Tofu: Silken tofu has the highest water content, and very soft texture, it is silky-smooth, and almost custard-like with an undetectable taste. It is often used in desserts, smoothies, soups, dressings, and sauces due to its ability to blend easily.
Soft Tofu: Soft tofu has a firmer texture with a slightly slightly stronger flavor than silken tofu. Soft tofu has a slightly creamy texture and is often used soups or as a plant-based alternative to scrambled eggs.
Firm and Extra Firm Tofu: These two varieties have a more dense texture that is almost sponge-like and absorbs the flavors of the foods it is cooked with. Firm tofu and extra firm tofu can be interchanged in recipes and are often used in stir-fries, curries, grilling, sauteeing, and roasting.
Is tofu considered a healthy food?
Tofu has a high protein content and is low in calories and rich in nutrients that are necessary for a healthy diet. You can read all about the health benefits and possible risks of tofu on healthline.com.
Where to buy tofu
You can easily find tofu in a grocery store or in the produce department or health food section. If you're looking for firm tofu in savory dishes, make sure it feels solid when pressed but still has a little give. On the other hand, soft tofu or medium tofu should not feel solid when pressed.
How to prepare tofu
If you use soft tofu, you only need to drain it and pat it dry before using it. However, if you are using firm or extra-firm tofu, you will need to drain it and press out the water.
The best way to do this is by using a tofu press or by wrapping it in paper towels and placing a heavy object on top for at least 30 minutes.
While they are not necessary, a tofu press does a great job of extracting the liquid from firm tofu. There are a variety of tofu presses to choose from, I like this tofu bud, (affiliate link) because it's easy to use and it's dishwasher safe too.
How to use tofu
Tofu is a versatile ingredient and often used as a meat substitute. Plain tofu makes a great addition to a variety of favorite dishes from savory to sweet. Here are some popular ways to prepare tofu:
Scramble - This is a popular vegan alternative to scrambled eggs, it is made by crumbling firm or extra firm tofu and cooking it with vegetables, spices and seasonings.
Grill or pan fry - Slice firm or extra firm tofu into slices, marinate in your favorite sauce and cook it on the grill or in a hot skillet. Serve it in a salad, or turn it into a sandwich topped with lettuce, tomatoes and onions.
Stir fry - Stir fries are a quick and easy way to use tofu. Cut firm or extra firm tofu into cubes and stir-fry it with your favorite vegetables, sauces, and spices.
Roast - This is similar to grilling or pan frying. Cut firm or extra firm tofu into slices, cubes, or strips. Toss it in your favorite marinade for 20 to 30 minutes and roast it in the oven.
Tofu Desserts - Thanks to its creamy and smooth texture, tofu can be used in desserts too! Silken tofu is often used for vegan cheesecake, pudding, and mousse.
Smoothies - Tofu can also be blended with fruits to create delicious and protein-packed smoothies.
How to store tofu
And unopened block of tofu should be stored in the refrigerator and consumed by its use-by date, which is typically printed on the package.
After opening, unused tofu can be stored in the refrigerator for two to three days. It's best to keep it in a container filled with clean and cold water. Alternatively, you can store it in the freezer for up to five months.
Before freezing, it's recommended that you press tofu for the best results. The texture of tofu will change once thawed out and will have a meatier texture than tofu that has not been frozen.
What foods taste good with tofu?
Since tofu is mild in flavor, it can be paired with a wide variety of ingredients, here are some food pairing suggestions below.
- Sesame oil and seeds
- Soy sauce
Tofu + Asparagus + Mushrooms + Noodles
Tofu + Garlic + Soy Sauce + Cabbage + Rice
Tofu + Miso + Mushrooms
Recipes with tofu
Air fryer tofu nuggets - a quick and tasty way to enjoy healthy tofu. Perfect for snacking on or adding salads, pasta dishes or stir-fry recipes.
Tofu stroganoff with mushrooms - you will not miss the meat in this hearty and super flavorful stroganoff recipe!
Vegetarian egg roll in a bowl - made with tofu crumbles, stir-fried cabbage and tossed in a soy-based sauce with cripsy baked egg roll wrappers on top.
Vegetarian enchilada casserole - Filled with layers of spicy tofu filling, tortillas, homemade enchilada suace and cheese!
Fried tofu sandwich - A pan fried slab of tofu with a crispy texture that is tangy and spicy serve on a bun.
Tofu Katsu with Tonkatsu Sauce - Tofu is coated in panko breadcrumbs and pan fried until golden brown and crispy.
Spicy Tofu and Rice Stir Fry - Veggies and tofu tossed in a Thai-style sauce that's sweet and spicy.
Different types of tofu (silken tofu vs. firm) and brands can have varying tastes due to their texture and moisture content.
Even though they have different textures, firm tofu can be used in recipes requiring soft tofu in certain dishes. But it is not recommended to use soft tofu in dishes that require firm tofu.
Yes, tofu does not need to be cooked before you eat it.