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Don't like tofu? The secret to making your tofu taste good

Quick Take 

Think you don't like tofu? You're making it wrong! Don't worry, we've got our top tips for making the perfect tofu, every time whether you're using it in a vegan ricotta recipe, a chocolate pie, or as a replacement for meat in your favorite dishes.

On this page

Why you don't really hate tofu

The truth about soy - is it a healthy part of a plant-based diet?

4 types of tofu and when to use them

How to prep and press tofu (without a tofu press)

The secret to making crispy tofu (no oil or cornstarch)

How to make tofu taste good: 5 delicious ways to season tofu

BONUS: 3 unusual yet mouth-watering ways to use tofu

Key Takeaways

Before we begin: did you know eating tofu is great for you skin?

Yep! Eating tofu has been shown to slow the loss of collagen and help keep skin elasticity. Eat for glowing skin when you order the MamaSezz Beauty Bundle today

Why you don't really hate tofu

Let me ask you this: Would you bake a chicken breast without any seasoning, and then eat it without sauce? What about tilapia or pork? Typically mild-flavored meats get special attention when it comes to seasonings, even if it’s just a little salt and pepper (the MVP of spices).

The same goes for tofu.

Ok first, what is tofu? Tofu is made from soybeans, specifically by curdling soy milk and pressing the curds into soft, white blocks (really similar to how cheese is made from dairy milk). Tofu is made a plant-based staple and excellent source of vegan protein.

If you're new to a plant-based diet you may think you don't like tofu, but chances are it's just been prepared wrong. 

Tofu, like chicken and these other mild-flavored meats, is great vehicle for flavor. In fact, tofu is actually one of most versatile (and affordable!) foods in the grocery store. It can used in dishes ranging from vegan chocolate pie to a grilled main dish at your cookout.

Oh, and it's really good for you...

The truth about soy - is it a healthy part of a plant-based diet?

New to a plant-based diet and worried if you should eat soy or not? We get this question a lot from plant-based beginners  and it’s a good one.

There is a lot of confusion as to whether or not eating soy is harmful or healthy. Good news: soy can absolutely be part of your healthy whole food plant-based diet. We dissected the health myths surrounding soy in this blog post. But we'll give you some bullet points on the health benefits of soy to get you up to speed here. 

6 surprising health benefits of soy

  • Soy decreases your chances of developing breast cancer and even can help survival rates for women already diagnosed with breast cancer (1).
  • Soy contains phytonutrients, which may lower your risk for developing disease in general.
  • The isoflavones found in soy are also linked with reduced risk for endometrial cancer and prevent bone loss in women (2).
  • Soy is naturally cholesterol free and low in saturated fat, which makes non-GMO soy foods a great meat alternative for vegans looking to get their plant-based protein. 
  • Soy foods contain fiber, which is great for boosting gut health (where our immune system lives!). 

4 types of tofu and when to use them

As you may have noticed, there are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to buying tofu. Firm, extra firm, silken, super firm, organic, smoked, seasoned…. the list goes on. Here a general guide to help you choose the tofu that is right for the recipe at hand.

If you can, it's best to consume organic non-GMO soy (any soy that says “organic” is also non-GMO, by the way). 

1. Silken tofu

The softest tofu, silken tofu is great for smoothies, creams, sauces, soups, vegan flan, mayo or custards, and baking. 

2. Firm tofu

Firm tofu can be pressed (keep scrolling for instructions on how to do that) and is great for scrambles and stir fry.

3. Extra firm or Super firm tofu

This tofu is great for creating a chewy or crispy consistency. It is best pressed (keep scrolling for instructions on how to do that) and then chopped or diced before cooking.  

4. Smoked or seasoned tofu

These types of tofu are pre-seasoned with either spices, sauces, or a cooking method like smoking or grilling to add flavor. Make sure to check the ingredients for added oils, preservatives, or words you don’t recognize.  

How to prep and press tofu (without a tofu press)

Do you need to press tofu?

Have you heard that you need to press tofu first and not sure what this means? Here are the highlights:

  • Silken tofu usually does not require pressing as it's supposed to be soft and used for sauces, smoothies, etc. 
  • Firm, extra firm, and super firm tofu can (and usually should) be pressed in order to drain some of the excess liquid, leaving your tofu to retain a more chewy or crispy texture. 
  • Pressing is a particularly important step for crispy tofu if you are looking to cook without oil. If you do not press you will end up with a mushy texture. Pressing works best if you are going to slice your tofu block. 

How to press tofu (without a tofu press)

Pressing Tofu

Good news: you do not need a tofu press to effectively press tofu.

To press your tofu:

  • Take it out of the package
  • Leave tofu wrapped in a clean cloth or towel and put on a plate
  • Place a heavy object  - like a big book (or two or three) or a cast iron skillet - on top until the cloth absorbs the liquid.
  • This process usually takes 30-60 minutes. 
  • Be sure not to leave tofu out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours to ensure food safety. 

You can also use your hands to press some of the excess liquid out. (Note that you will not be able to drain all of the liquid out. That's OK!)

How to prep tofu

Crumbling: Tofu scramble is a delicious and heart healthy alternative to scrambled eggs. Simply press firm tofu and use your hands to break it up by smashing it between your fingers until it mimics the texture of scrambled eggs. Then season with turmeric, black pepper, garlic powder, black salt (for an “eggy” flavor, or use sea salt or Tamari instead), and add in your favorite cooked veggies. 

Blending: If you’re looking to make a creamy sauce, use silken tofu in your blender in addition to your other sauce ingredients and blend until smooth. For a ricotta texture, use a food processor and firm tofu instead of silken tofu, in addition to spices and other ingredients. 

Slicing: First press your tofu, then slice into strips or cubes before cooking. 

Marinating: If you’re able to think of it the night before, soak your pressed tofu slices in a sauce mixture of your choice or in a container with veggie broth and your favorite spices. This will help the tofu absorb the flavor like a sponge, and allow the sauces or spices to penetrate the outer skin of the tofu and flavor it evenly. 

The secret to making crispy tofu (no oil or cornstarch)

Cooking without oil doesn't mean you have to have mushy tofu. As outlines above, make sure you press your firm, extra firm, and super firm tofu.

Then, before you bake or marinate your tofu, toss it in arrowroot powder and you'll get delicious crispy tofu, no oil needed. 

Many recipes call for you to toss your tofu in cornstarch, which will also yield crispy tofu, but we prefer arrowroot powder because cornstarch is often more processed, which means fewer vitamins and nutrients in tact. Arrowroot powder has immunity-boosting nutrients still, like potassium, iron, and B vitamins.

How to make crispy tofu without oil or cornstarch:

1. Press your tofu 

2. Cube tofu then gently toss with arrowroot powder. Use your hands instead of a utensil to avoid breaking up the tofu pieces. 

3. Place the cubed and coated tofu on parchment paper lined baking tray. 

3. Bake tofu at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Flip halfway in between.

4. Toss in your favorite oil-free sauce (see tofu seasoning tips below)

How to make tofu taste good: 5 delicious ways to season tofu

1. Spicy and Sweet Ginger Garlic Tofu 

Type of tofu: 1 block of firm or extra firm, cubed

Prep: press and soak overnight in the following marinade

Spicy and sweet ginger garlic marinade ingredients: 

1 Tablespoons of Tamari or soy sauce 

1 teaspoon of minced fresh ginger

1 teaspoon of minced fresh garlic

½ a teaspoon of Red Pepper Flakes (or more for added spice) 

1 Tablespoon of lime juice 

1 teaspoon of maple syrup or date syrup 

2 chopped green onions 

2 tablespoons of water or veggie broth 

Cooking method: Use a baking pan with parchment paper. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes, flip and bake for another 20-30 minutes or longer if desired. 

Didn't think ahead? That’s okay! Saute your tofu and marinade together until liquid is absorbed, then transfer to the oven or continue to cook in the stovetop pan until tofu becomes firm. 

2. Peanut Sauce Tofu

Type of tofu: 1 block of firm or extra firm, sliced into long strips 

Prep: Press excess liquid out, and soak in the following marinade, overnight if possible.

Marinade ingredients: 

1 teaspoon of Tamari or soy sauce

½ a teaspoon of minced garlic

Cooking Method:  Use a baking pan with parchment paper. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes, flip and bake for another 20-30 minutes or longer if desired

Then toss in peanut sauce: 

2 tablespoons of melted peanut butter or tahini 

2 Tablespoons of sesame seeds 

1 teaspoon of maple syrup or date syrup 

Didn't think ahead? That’s okay! Saute your tofu and marinade together until liquid is absorbed, then transfer to the oven or continue to cook in the stovetop pan until tofu becomes firm. 

3. Crispy Chickn’ Tofu 

Tofu: Extra firm, diced

Prep: Press excess liquid out

Easy marinade ingredients:

1 Tablespoon of Tamari

1 Tablespoon of veggie broth.

A few Tablespoons of nutritional yeast

A dash of  poultry seasoning

Cooking method:  Use a baking pan with parchment paper. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes, flip and bake for another 20-30 minutes or longer if desired

Optional: After cooking, top with squeezed lemon, parsley, and capers 

4. Parsley Lemon Garlic Tofu

Tofu: Extra firm, diced, or sliced into strips 

Prep: Press excess liquid out, and soak the following marinade

Parsley lemon garlic marinade ingredients: 

2 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon of minced garlic

1 Tablespoon of minced fresh parsley 

¼ teaspoon of maple or date syrup 

1 small dash of sea salt

1 dash of crushed black pepper  

Cooking method: Use a baking pan with parchment paper. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes, flip and bake for another 20-30 minutes or longer if desired

Didn't think ahead? That’s okay! Saute your tofu and marinade together until liquid is absorbed, then transfer to the oven or continue to cook in the stovetop pan until tofu becomes firm. 

5. MamaSezz Original BBQ Tofu

Tofu: Extra firm, or firm, diced or sliced into strips

Prep: Press excess liquid out, and toss in MamaSezz Original Oil-Free BBQ Sauce overnight. 

Cooking method: Use a baking pan with parchment paper. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes, flip and bake for another 20-30 minutes or longer if desired

Didn't think ahead? That’s okay! Saute your tofu in a little veggie broth, then bake or pan fry. Then toss in a little BBQ sauce before baking for 15 minutes. 

BONUS: 3 unusual yet mouth-watering ways to use tofu

Key takeaways

  • If you don't like tofu, it's probably just been prepared wrong (or without enough seasonings).
  • Tofu is great vehicle for flavor and is SO versatile. Add it to vegan cream sauces, smoothies, stir-fries, even dessert recipes!
  • Tofu, and other organic non-GMO soy foods, can be a healthy part of your plant-based diet and have many health benefits, from reduced risk of disease to healthier bones in women.
  • There are many types of tofu: Firm, extra firm, silken, super firm, organic, smoked, seasoned, the list goes on!
  • You don't need a tofu press to prepare tofu! Just wrap your tofu in a clean towel, place on a plate, and put a heavy book or cast iron skillet on top to help get excess water out. 

Citations

(1) American Cancer Society

(2) Therapeutic Advances Musculoskeletal Disease

 

By Caroline DiNicola Fawley

Caroline is a plant-based chef, recipe designer, and whole food plant-based nutrition educator, with a Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.

What you should do now

  1. We have been where you are and we’ve helped thousands of people (just like you) transition to eating a plant based diet. If you are looking for a guide that can help you with some of the big questions, and dramatically reduce your stress, this FREE Ultimate Little Guide to Plant-Based Eating is a great place to start.
  2. If you're interested in Weight Loss, Download this fantastic FREE guide Ultimate (little) Guide to weight loss
  3. If you’d like to learn about plant-based living go to our MamaSezz Blog where you can read hundreds of “How To” articles. If you’d like to learn about plant-based cooking go to our Recipes Section for easy step by step favorites.
  4. If you enjoyed this article, then so will your friends, so why not share it on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Email




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