Why Should I Press my Tofu?
Whenever someone complains about the taste of tofu, we ask how they usually prepare it. The truth is, this misunderstood plant-based protein can be bland and soggy when cooked incorrectly. With a simple press and marinade before cooking, you can change your tofu completely!
Tofu has a lot of naysayers out there. Nay, I say, to that! Tofu is a pretty delicious vegan protein that blends well into almost every dish.
Pressing your tofu is a total game-changer. You can wave goodbye to floppy, soggy tofu bits and enjoy these flavorful, crispy morsels by following the simple steps below.
Why Press your Tofu?
A block of tofu contains just two ingredients: soybean curds pressed with water. Understandably, the water content is pretty high.
While we hear many complaints about tofu’s soggy taste, they’re mostly due to one thing – people aren’t cooking tofu properly. Most inexperienced tofu chefs miss one essential step.
Pressing your normal, firm, or extra-firm tofu before you cook it is essential to get it firm and perfectly crisped on the outside.
To keep your tofu from staying spongy, you have to squeeze out the extra water.
How to Press Tofu
Press Your Tofu
With the right kitchen tools, you can make quick work of tofu pressing to avoid impacting your total cooking time too much. It’s easiest to make a small investment in a tofu press if you often cook this vegan protein.
Pressing with A Tofu Press
- Remove your tofu block from its package, then place it in your tofu press.
- Place the lid on your press, and turn the knob to the corresponding setting for the tofu type you’re cooking.
- Leave the tofu to press for 15 mins. Prepare and other ingredients for your recipe in the meanwhile.
- Remove the tofu from the press, and prepare according to the recipe’s instructions.
Pressing with Other Kitchen Items
- Remove your tofu block from the package and wrap it in a few dry, clean paper towels.
- Place your wrapped block of tofu between two flat, heavy objects – two heavy cutting boards or plates both work well. You can also place heavy objects evenly over the plate for extra pressure.
- Leave the tofu to press for a minimum of 2-3 hours. This method takes quite a bit longer than using a tofu press, which applies far more pressure.
- Remove the tofu from between the plates, remove the paper towel, and prepare according to the recipe’s instructions.
Make a Marinade
Now that you’ve removed the excess liquid from your tofu block, the next step to cooking killer tofu is to marinate and infuse it with some flavor.
If you’re following a tofu recipe, they’ll likely include a marinade, but you can build one of your own easily, too.
Unlike a meat marinade, you don’t need any oil in a tofu marinade. Instead, combine a vinegar of your choice with one or more of the following: soy sauce, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, herbs, and spices.
Cut your tofu into 1-inch cubes before you cover it in the marinade to maximize the flavor absorption in each piece.
Pressed tofu is pretty absorbent, so you won’t need a ton of marinade to get the job done. Place your tofu in a bowl, pour over the marinade, and give it a quick toss. The marinade will thoroughly penetrate the tofu in 15 minutes, but you can leave it as long as 30.
With your tofu pressed and marinated, you’re ready to cook your tofu to perfection. You can grill, pan-fry, or bake tofu, which will all give you a slightly different tofu texture.
No matter which tofu cooking method you choose, try not to disturb your tofu too much as it cooks. Place the tofu on the grill, pan, or oven, and let the side cook for a few minutes before you move it – the less you touch it, the more crispy the outer coating of your tofu will be!
The Exception to the Rule: Tofu You Should Never Press
While pressing most tofu is essential, there are a few types of tofu that you should never press: soft and silken.
These soft, delicate tofu types serve a much different purpose than the firmer varieties and will turn to absolute mush under the pressure of a tofu press.
We use soft and silken tofu because of its creamy texture, not despite it. They’re both delicious when blended into smoothies, soups, salad dressings, and much more. Soft tofu is a great substitution for milk, cream, and other dairy products in baked goods.
So, whenever you use soft or silken tofu, skip the pressing step and use it straight out of the package in your favorite recipes.
Final Notes: Pressing Tofu
While pressing and marinating, add a few extra steps to the tofu preparation process; you can still have a delicious meal on the table with much less effort than others.
If you’re short on time in the evening, leave your tofu to press in the fridge in the morning – leaving it longer than 15 minutes won’t hurt it. Then, once dinnertime rolls around, you can pop the block out of the press, toss it in a marinade, and get to cooking!