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Why am I having so much trouble with Tofu?

Alright folks, for starters, I love the website, even though I am not a vegetarian or vegan. I am however, a tofu lover! It's inexpensive, healthy, and tastes good in a lot of things...

That is...except when I cook it.

I've been trying to stir-fry tofu in A. A stirfry, and B. Two recipes I found here. (The recipes were lovely, the badly cooked tofu was all my fault though).

My biggest problem is...I can't seem to cook it WELL enough. I end up with undercooked tofu 90% of the time. Once I ended up with overcooked tofu...so...apparently I'm missing some sort of middle ground.

To stir-fry extra-firm Tofu, how long, and how over what heat should I be cooking it? I love Tofu, but my continual failure in cooking it correctly is really starting to frustrate me!

I like my tofu to be super dense and chewy, like meat. I acheive this texture this way;

1. Firm or extra firm tofu (regular, NOT silken). I throw it in the freezer, packaging and all, and let it get frozen solid. Then I thaw it out (usually in my microwave, to save time - i poke a hole in the packaging when i first stick it in the microwave, then when it's thawed a bit, I remove it from the packaging, transfer it to a microwave-safe bowl, and continue thawing).

2. Remove excess water. I give it a good squeeze with my hands, then I wrap it in a paper towel and a clean kitchen towel, sandwich it between cutting boards, and place a heavy can on top. A few minutes of this squeezes out a fair but of water.

3. Slice it into bite-sized cubes.

4. Flavourful marinade. What I normally do is put the tofu into a plastic bag so that I can just pour stuff in and shake it around. First I add a bit of marinade, which for me is like two tablespoons of vegetable broth, a couple of teaspoons of soy sauce, half a teaspoon of worcestershire sauce (vegans: watch out for brands with anchovies!), and a splash of balsamic vinegar. I drizzle this mixture into the bag, give it a good shake, and then....

5. In a small bowl, I mix a few tablespoons of flour with a bit of garlic powder and a teaspoon of seasoning salt. I dump this into the bag too and give it a shake so that everything's nice and coated.

6. Panfry until browned. Then all you need to do is add a flavourful sauce - or dump it into a stir fry or whatever. Personally I love drenching it in BBQ sauce. Or the General Tao's Tofu sauce recipe from this website.

Good luck!

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i second the bbq tofu suggestion!yuumah!

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Thank you very much for your reply!

(I was a bit worried that I might be treated like the evil meat-eating leper here)

I've never tried freezing my tofu before cooking it, and that just might be the difference between textures that I'm looking for.

Incedently, my tofu dishes usually taste better after re-heating in the microwave, I thought that this might be due to me initially undercooking the dish.

I will try your "recipe" the next time I make tofu, it sounds very nice!

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Oh yeah, I like leftover tofu better, too :)

Sometimes I'll make a bunch of BBQ tofu and just stick it in the fridge so I can eat it cold the next day. Yum!

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Here's what I do. 

For stir frying take extra-firm tofu and slice it into about four or five slices.  Wrap them in several paper towels, but don't stack them - lay them side by side.  Then wrap in a dish towel.  Put the wrapped tofu on a plate, then stack a bunch of plates on them.  I usually actually leave them in the cabinet. 

Then I go about my business of slicing and dicing veggies or preparing something else.  I give them about 20 minutes or so in the towels and plate.  Then remove the tofu.  The towels are good and wet and they water has been squeezed out of the tofu.  This makes the tofu more dry so as to absorb your sauce better.

Then I stir fry with veggies in a variety of sauces (right now I'm in school and don't make a whole lot of sauces but by Asian sauces ready made).  Then cook until golden brown, or well heated in the sauce.  For more liquidly sauces allow to simmer for a while.

Good luck!

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I buy the frozen yellow tofu available at the Asian grocery store.  You can just defrost in the microwave and slice.  My favorite Thai restaurant used this in their curries.  It is a lot easier than weighing and draining the other kind of tofu.

Elizabeth

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Thanks to a recipe I found on this site (and now can't seem to be able to find it again), I almost always broil my tofu.  This way, I don't have to freeze or drain it.  I slice the tofu in 4 slices (about 1/4" thick) & put in a 9x13 baking dish.  Mix 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/8 cup water, and any other seasonings depending on what you're using the tofu for (nutritional yeast, garlic powder, ginger powder, curry powder, etc) and pour over the tofu.  Marinate for as long as you have time (but believe me, if you don't marinate, it's going to still taste just fine).  Put in oven on hi broil.  Cook for about 20-25 minutes.  It's always the perfect consistency and goes great in many different dishes.  I also like to make a second pan and eat it the next day cold or on a sandwhich.

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I have two favorite tofu recipes.

Oven Fried Tofu
Ingred:
1 Block Extra Firm Tofu (Frozen, thawed & pressed)
1T Canola Oil
1/2c Water
1 Bullion Cube
Spices

Directions:
Slice the frozen/thawed/pressed tofu thinly into thin strips.  I can usually get about 12 from 1 block.  Pour the oil into a large baking pan.  Lay the slices down so that they are oiled and not touching eachother.  Bring the water to a boil and disolve the bullion.  Pour over the tofu slices.  Season with garlic, chili powder or basil.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, flip over each slice carefully.  Bake another 15 to 30 minutes to desired crispness.

I like crispy tofu for breakfast sandwiches and softer tofu for entree's.

Sesame Tofu
Ingred:
2T Sesame Seeds
1 15oz block Extra Firm Tofu (Bridge), flat bite sized pieces
2T Canola Oil
2c Broccoli Florettes
1/4c Water
1 Bullion Cube (Knor)
2T Soy Sauce
1T Brown Sugar
Rice, cooked

Directions:
Heat a tall pot to med high heat. Add in sesame seeds and shake pan breifly till roasted. They turn darker and emit a nutty smell. Empty into small bowl and set aside. Make sure all seeds are out of pan and return to heat.

Add oil to pan bring up to med high to high temp. Carefully add in tofu. Let fry till side is browned. Flip and continue to cook till evenly brown. Remove from pan to paper towels.

In a microwave safe measuring cup add the water and bullion. Heat 2 min or until bullion cube is disolved. Remove from microwave and add soy sauce and sugar. Set aside.

Carefully toss broccoli into pan and stir constantly. Once broccoli is bright green remove to paper towels.

Add reserved sauce to pan. Add golden fried tofu back to pan. Stir gently but constantly. Sauce will carmelize onto the tofu. When it is mostly absorbed add in broccoli. Once sauce is no longer visible on the bottom of the pan, remove from heat and sprinkle roasted sesame seeds on top.

Serve over rice.

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Hey,

I like tofu well done too.  For a couple of simple methods, the smaller you make the cubes, the better they cook but it's not quite as satisfying really.  I often have scrambled tofu for breakfast, just squish it with a fork and stick it in a wok.  You can make it how you like then.  Squeezing it out first is always a good idea too, as mentioned.

I have tried a few different kinds as well, some cook better than others.  We have 'Cauldren' in England.  That cooks very well.  I just had a stir fry with it an hour ago...scrummy.

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