As someone who grew up eating tofu regularly and is now a dedicated vegan, I know what good tofu tastes like. Just as importantly, I know that there are a lot of people who absolutely despise the taste of tofu — and in many ways I understand that sentiment. I've had tofu at countless restaurants that either tasted like saucy cardboard, or worse, like nothing at all. It's no wonder there are so many misconceptions about this popular source of vegan protein.
Having had many nonvegan friends over to eat at my house, I've had the chance to experiment with all sorts of crowd-pleasing tofu recipes. I've baked, fried, and scrambled my way through countless dishes, and I've found out what works best. Here are some foolproof tips for making tofu taste delicious, whether you're a meat eater or a vegetarian.
Press and Drain It Before You Cook It
Many people take tofu straight out of the packet and put it into the fry pan. While that's certainly not the wrong way to eat tofu, it's not exactly the right way. Putting in a few extra minutes of effort will ensure that your tofu has as little moisture as possible, which allows it to soak up more marinade or fry extracrispy.
Place the block of tofu on a plate that has been lined with several paper towels or a clean dish towel. Layer more paper towels or another towel on top, and then place something heavy on top so the tofu drains. I like to put a couple pans or pots on top. Alternatively, a dish with a couple of cans on it will work. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes, or up to an hour.
One important note about this trick: never do it with silken tofu! This only works with firm or extrafirm tofu.
Dry Fry It
I could eat crispy tofu every day of my life and be perfectly content. You'll need to press and drain your tofu before you dry fry it. Cut it into squares or triangles, each about half an inch thick, and crank up your pan to medium-high heat (a cast-iron skillet works best). Place the tofu slices in the pan and press them down with a spatula until each side is golden brown. If you're doing it right, you'll be able to hear the moisture escaping from the tofu. These slices go great in a noodle dish, a stir-fry, or on top of a salad.
There are so many great combinations of marinade for tofu. My favorite is soy sauce, sriracha sauce, fresh ginger, garlic, maple syrup, and liquid smoke. You can also play around with adding lime juice and different spices, depending on what kind of mood you're in. And the longer you let your tofu marinade, the more delicious the flavor will be. I like to let mine sit in the fridge for four hours. From here, you can either bake it (I put it in the oven at 450 degrees for half an hour) or saute it in a pan.
Scramble It, Just Like Eggs
If you love scrambled eggs, you'll be happy to know you can make tofu the same way. My kitchen is always stocked with my favorite salsas from Trader Joe's, and I cook crumbled tofu with a spicy salsa for a protein-rich breakfast. Sometimes I'll make a tofu scramble with mushrooms, spinach, and onions — just like the omelettes I used to love at my favorite diners.