Tofu

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parkaboy
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Tofu

Postby parkaboy » Mon Dec 17, 2007 6:11 pm UTC

so, recently i've gotten used to the texture of tofu. Or i've gotten closer to getting used to the texture of it. I know it doesnt really taste like anything, so it takes on the flavor of what you cook it in, but there has to be a line somewhere.

i'm going to experiment a little, but i dont want this to be completely awful so i'm going to ask for assistance in my experiments. i have ONE block of extra firm tofu. Half i'm going to grill, half i'm going to fry. now, here's where you lovely people come in...

What is the best way to press out all the water? paper towels/cheesecloth and a heavy book? how long do you press it or how do you tell when its ok? what are good sauces to try? i like sweet things, i like salty things, i LOVE spicy things (like that spicey peanut sauce you find at thai places, which happens to be salty, sweet and spicy) also, how exactly do you *fry* tofu? is it just a pan-fry type thing or does it have to be submerged?
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Re: Tofu

Postby Girl™ » Mon Dec 17, 2007 6:47 pm UTC

I just wrap it in paper towels, plop it between two cutting boards, and put a couple of heavy books on top. I bet a gallon jug of water would work even better. My completely unscientific way of judging is to pinch it and see if it feels kind of like feta (dry-ish, a little crumbly). They say you can pan-fry tofu, but I've never had any luck with it. Deep frying, though, is full of win.
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Re: Tofu

Postby Belial » Mon Dec 17, 2007 6:50 pm UTC

Weren't those tofu croquettes of yours pan-fried?
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Re: Tofu

Postby Girl™ » Mon Dec 17, 2007 6:58 pm UTC

They are, but they were also not solid blocks of tofu. I think the egg really helps them turn out well, dspite being pan fried. The one time I tried pan frying plain chunks of tofu, they got kind of crusty on the outside, while staying raw and pudding-y on the inside. Gross.
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Re: Tofu

Postby Bakemaster » Mon Dec 17, 2007 8:28 pm UTC

I use a bag of rice, or sometimes several cans of beans, to weight the tofu. When you press it you want to cut it into slabs first, not press the whole block (or in this case, half-a-block) at once, because then you won't get the water out from the center.

You can use cheesecloth if the water has a way to drain away, otherwise use paper towels or a dishtowel. You'll need many layers of paper towel on both the top and the bottom of the tofu. To tell when it's done, poke it; if it feels wet, it's definitely too wet. If it doesn't feel wet but it's still squishy and spongey, it's fine for grilling but might need more water taken out for pan-frying. I do it by feel. If it's starting to crumble or split you may be pressing it too long or too hard.

I really like this spicy szechuan stir-fry sauce they have at Shaw's under the brand name House of Tsang. It's sort of medium-hot, flavorful, and when I make it for myself or other people who really like the spice I just add crushed red pepper.

As for cooking, I usually cube the tofu (~3/4") and fry in a few tablespoons of oil. Peanut oil is great for stir-fry, but any neutral vegetable oil works. I don't recommend using olive oil. To get an even browning you need to actually stir-fry them on a high heat, but if you don't want to spend the time to do that you can leave them on one side until they're brown and then turn them once to get the opposite side brown.

Once they're brown I add minced garlic and ginger, stir-fry for 15 seconds, then add sliced or chopped vegetables as I like (onion, bell peppers, carrots, celery, snow peas), stir-fry for a minute, then pour on some sauce. How much is really up to your preference of liquidity. I also like to add peanuts to a szechuan dish at this point (after adding the sauce).
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Re: Tofu

Postby Girl™ » Mon Dec 17, 2007 10:45 pm UTC

Bakemaster wins at food. <3 I'll have to try your (superior) way of pressing tofu.
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Re: Tofu

Postby all mod cons » Tue Dec 18, 2007 3:17 am UTC

Ditto on the cut it/wrap it in something absorbent/press it between cutting boards with heavy objects. It's also yummy if you freeze it and thaw before cooking, since it makes the texture a little chewier.

I loooove grilled tofu with barbecue sauce. But then, I might just love barbecue sauce. ;] Or if you're not worried about fat content, you could make some Buffalo-ish sauce by mixing together hot sauce and melted margarine/butter (about 2:1), then pour it on cooked tofu.

For frying, maybe throw together a basic curry-- coconut milk, curry paste, ginger, basil, and a bit of sugar and salt. Fry cubes of tofu, then add it (and a bunch of vegetables) to the curry sauce. There are fancier recipes out there, but that works for me in a pinch. I can never seem to come up with the perfect peanut sauce, though...

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Re: Tofu

Postby stockpot » Tue Dec 18, 2007 7:09 am UTC

I second the freezing and thawing suggestion. Thawed tofu = a squishy, edible sponge. You can wring the water right out with your hands, even.

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Re: Tofu

Postby wisnij » Fri Dec 21, 2007 7:33 am UTC

all mod cons wrote:Ditto on the cut it/wrap it in something absorbent/press it between cutting boards with heavy objects. It's also yummy if you freeze it and thaw before cooking, since it makes the texture a little chewier.

I've read that. Haven't tried it yet. Do you freeze before or after wringing out?
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Re: Tofu

Postby stockpot » Fri Dec 21, 2007 8:47 am UTC

Before. The ice crystals do some crazy business to the internal structure which makes the tofu a) a little tougher and b) less clingy about its water. If you tried to wring the water out of fresh tofu, you'd just end up with two handfuls of tofu mush.

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Re: Tofu

Postby parkaboy » Fri Dec 21, 2007 3:01 pm UTC

i cut half a block into thin slabs and pressed them for a little over an hour. not ALL the water was out, but enough to not make me choke while trying to eat it. i even dared to eat a very small raw piece. and quickly decided to stir fry the rest. after getting it a little brown i added veggies and spicy peanut sauce. man was it awesome.

tofu experiment 1 - HUGE SUCCESS.

i'll let you know how the grilling turns out when it happens.
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Re: Tofu

Postby wisnij » Fri Dec 21, 2007 8:19 pm UTC

stockpot wrote:Before. The ice crystals do some crazy business to the internal structure which makes the tofu a) a little tougher and b) less clingy about its water. If you tried to wring the water out of fresh tofu, you'd just end up with two handfuls of tofu mush.

I meant "wring" in a figurative sense, referring to the squeezing process. ;)
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Re: Tofu

Postby Bakemaster » Sat Jan 12, 2008 8:38 am UTC

Parka: An hour is way longer than you should need to press strips or slabs of tofu. After a certain point if you don't change whatever absorbing material you're using it becomes saturated and the tofu won't get any drier. Were you changing the towel/cheesecloth/whatever or did you just set it up and walk away for an hour?

Not that it's harmful to press it that long, just don't think you absolutely need to.
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Re: Tofu

Postby parkaboy » Sat Jan 12, 2008 3:10 pm UTC

i changed it every 20 minutes or so. it still seemed pretty damp. i guess my idea of dry is DRY, not relatively dry. it worked out ok though =]
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Re: Tofu

Postby Little Richie » Wed Feb 06, 2008 4:53 am UTC

Tofu *twitch*

spray on browning in Tofu burgers *twitch*

I must admit though, Tofu in some soup isnt bad.
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Re: Tofu

Postby PictureSarah » Wed Feb 06, 2008 1:11 pm UTC

I use soft silken tofu to replace mayonnaise sometimes in my sandwiches, I use a mixer to blend it up to act ricotta-esque in enchilada fillings and similar, I get the extra firm kind and use a fork to mush it up to the same texture as ground meat to put in spaghetti sauce. I've had a lot of luck with replacing meat with tofu in dishes where it's part of some sauce or filling. I have not had good luck with baking or grilling it, which is too bad, because one of my favorite restaurants in my hometown (before it closed) served an *awesome* tamari baked tofu sandwich.
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Re: Tofu

Postby parkaboy » Wed Feb 06, 2008 7:24 pm UTC

i think if i had a blender or food processor eating tofu would be a lot easier for me. i like it as a cheese replacement inside stuff or as part of a dip/spread, but the straight up chunks i'm still warring with. i've won a couple battles, but ultimately tofu still wins =(
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Re: Tofu

Postby pxiepwn » Wed Feb 27, 2008 1:02 am UTC

parkaboy wrote: What is the best way to press out all the water? paper towels/cheesecloth and a heavy book? how long do you press it or how do you tell when its ok? what are good sauces to try? i like sweet things, i like salty things, i LOVE spicy things (like that spicey peanut sauce you find at thai places, which happens to be salty, sweet and spicy) also, how exactly do you *fry* tofu? is it just a pan-fry type thing or does it have to be submerged?


As far as pressing tofu, I usually don't if I'm throwing it in a stir-fry. I'll just press gently on top of the block before I cube it. I only press if I'm grilling- which I pretty much never do. (Outside+Vermont= Cold.)

Regarding cooking it? The possibilities are endless. Throw cubes in a stir-fry like you would with chicken or beef or any other meat product. I usually throw the Tofu in last and let is absorb the flavors of the veggies and whatever else I'm using to flavor, (usually just mirin and tamari). You can also let it marinate for about twenty minutes before you cook it, if you want it to pack more of a punch. Peanut Butter, a little tahini, ginger, and tamari makes a wonderful marinade, so does orange juice concentrate, garlic, tamari, and ginger. You can also just use whatever you use on chicken or fish. Then just cook it plain and eat or toss it in a stir fry. Or you can always roll cubes in breadcrumbs and sesame seeds and fry in 1/8 inch of olive oil for crispy cubes. Drizzle them with tamari and throw in a stir fry, or just snack them plain. I personally love a tofu scramble in the morning with homefries and coffee. Cook up whatever veggies you have on hand, in just any old stir-fry pan, and then crumble the tofu over and flavor with more turmeric than you think necessary, some curry, paprika, and a dash or two of tamari.

Tofu is a amazing. Good luck with your experimenting.


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