What is Tofu

Tofu is coagulated soy milk, in the same way that traditional cheese is coagulated dairy milk. It is generally made by making milk from the soybean and setting with a coagulant such as calcium chloride or nigari.  There are various forms of tofu from soft, to medium and firm.  Always use organic and non-gmo tofu when possible.

Types of tofu

There are three main kinds of tofu, vacuum packed tofu, water-packed tofu, and silken tofu. 

Silken tofu, also called soft, silk or Japanese-style tofu has a softer consistency than regular tofu and will fall apart if not handled carefully. You may notice that silken tofu (soft tofu), unlike regular tofu, is sometimes packaged in aseptic boxes that do not require refrigeration. Because of this, silken tofu is sometimes sold in a different section of grocery stores than water-packed or vacuum packed tofu, which is packed in water and requires refrigeration. Silken, water-packed and vacuum packed tofu can be found in soft, medium, firm and extra firm consistencies. They are made from the same ingredients, but they are processed slightly differently, and are not interchangeable in a recipe.

Salad dressings, sauces and desserts usually use silken tofu for a thick and creamy texture. Silken tofu in an aseptic container has a shelf life of up to a year, unopened. Once opened, submerge any used portion with water in a container, cover, and refrigerate for up to a week.

Silken tofu crumbles very easily. It is not recommended that you press silken tofu; only regular or firm tofu needs to be pressed. Use a gentle hand when carefully slicing silken tofu, as it may otherwise fall apart.

Silken tofu crumbles very easily. It is not recommended that you press silken tofu; only regular or firm tofu needs to be pressed. Use a gentle hand when carefully slicing silken tofu, as it may otherwise fall apart.

Water-packed Tofu

Water-Packed tofu, also called Chinese-style tofu or bean curd is more common than silken tofu and comes in a plastic container in the refrigerator or produce section of most grocery stores, and it is packed in a small amount of the water.  For recipes that call for crumbled or mashed tofu, such as mock ricotta or scrambled tofu, water packed firm tofu will work just fine.  Although medium or soft tofu will have a smoother consistency, they will still work for this application.

Vacuum Packed Tofu 

Vacuum packed tofu is generally more firm and sold vacuum sealed with no extra iar inside.  It is usually higher in protein and fat, making it more filling.  Firm or extra firm vacuum packed tofu is best used in stir fries tofu bakes or any dish where you will want the tofu to retain its shape.  It is also best to use for BBQing on the grill.

Cooking with Tofu

When cooking with medium-firm or soft tofu, you can drain and press the tofu first to achieve a meatier texture and to release some of the water which can be replaced by marinade.

Tofu has always had a bit of a bad wrap for its lack of flavour and unpleasant texture.  As a professional chef it has always been my goal to ensure that people fall in love with my food, regardless of what the recipe is, and I for one LOVE making tofu taste awesome!  For some of my all-time favourite Tofu recipes, please check out my E-Books here

From one Plant Addict to another, 

Doug McNish

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