Hi guys! Today I am introducing a new monthly theme around one of my favorite ingredients: tofu. (Not that hard to guess, when the name of my blog is half of it). It was a friend of mine who gave me the inspiration to do something like this because she wanted some help on how to cook with this soggy, wobbly, white-ish thing named tofu. Because yes, tofu ain’t the prettiest of ingredients but it is one of the most nutritious and versatile out there. You can do wonders with tofu, but you can also end up with flavor-less, tough, chewy tofu, which is not the best and not a happy meal, in my opinion.
So, every month I will post one different tofu recipe and guide you through the steps on how to succeed ! Before we get into the recipe, I would like to cover the basics of the what, the hows and some other general stuff.
What is tofu?
Tofu is a soy-based food, it is prepared with the curds resulting from the coagulation of soy milk and pressing them until they become the “solid white blocks” that we know. The softness of tofu can go from sliken, soft, firm or extra firm. The different ways of cooking tofu depend of its softness.
|Softness||What to cook|
|Silken tofu||Smoothies, desserts, sauces, …|
|Soft tofu||Soups, lasagna filling, scrambled tofu, …|
|Firm tofu||Stir fried, scrambled tofu, baked tofu, …|
|Extra firm tofu||Grilled, fried, stir fried, …|
I have struggled to find “extra firm” tofu in Paris. They usually just have “silken, soft and firm”, but I haven’t searched throroughly as I mainly use soft and firm, and I don’t think there is that much difference between firm and extra firm.
How do we cook tofu? Or more specifically, how do we prepare tofu?
Tofu is rather bland on its own, and it usually takes some time to learn to like it “on its own”. So in order to prepare tofu to be able to be at its maximum flavor capacity, you need to make certain things.
Tofu has a lot of water and so, you need to drain it out. Otherwise, it won’t have as much flavor as it can. To do so, there are several techniques:
- Basic technique, no need for anything particular : Two plates and paper towels. Wrap the tofu in the paper towels and place it in one of the plates. Put the second plate on top and press it. You need to put weight otherwise the water won’t be absorbed by the paper towels. I usually leave the tofu like this for at least 20-30 minutes. The longer, the better.
- Tofu presser : A tofu presser is a good option if you don’t want to use paper towels CONSTANTLY and you are in more of a zero-waste mindset. It does require you to buy one, but right now there are many options out there (here, here). It is an investment but I use it all the time and it is quite nice.
It needs to absorbe flavor! Some of my favorite marinates: soy, spicy sauces (sriracha, gochujang, chili flakes), vinegar based marinades, teriyaki, …). Leave the tofu marinating for as long as you want. Same rules applies here: the longer, the better. You can also freeze the tofu and leave it with the marinade. It’s going to taste really great after.
So, today’s recipe is one of my easiest and fastest. It requires really not a lot of technique, but the tofu has to have flavor otherwise it will be just a wobbly thing in your meal. For this recipe, I recommend using “soft” tofu, so it can break apart easily like “pieces of beef”.
|Difficulty: 2/5||Prep time : 5 minutes + the pre-tofu press (20 minutes)|
|Type : one pot meal, asian, spicy||Cook time : 25 minutes|
Serves 1 person (I only cooked this for me)
- 2 cups of mushrooms (shiitake or normal ones, the ones that are most accessible to you) (diced)
- 1/2 eggplant (Diced)
- 1/2 onion (diced)
- 1 cup of tofu (press method, described above; I did it for 20 minutes, and I did not marinate it because I was a bit lazy to do so. The recipe has a lot of flavor either way, so it does pick up flavor by the end).
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of chili powder.
- 1 1/2 to 3 tablespoons of gochujang
- 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 1 pinch of salt
- 2 cups of water
Serve this with 1/2 cup of rice to go with it.
- Chop the onion and the eggplant in very small dices. Reheat the tablespoon of olive oil and once oil is hot, add the onions to the pan.
- Cook onions for 1-2 minutes until translucid, then add the eggplant and mix well.
- Add the garlic (minced or pressed, both work) and mix.
- Add the salt and chili powder.
- Cook for 5 minutes in medium heat, then add the tofu. With a wooden spoon, separate the tofu so it becomes more like “scrambled” tofu.
- Add the mushrooms and mix well.
- Add the soy sauce and the gochujang and mix well.
- Add the 2 cups of water and reduce heat to medium-low.
- Let it sit for 10 minutes so the flavors get to know each other.
Disclaimer with the gochujang: Start with 1/2 tablespoon and add more even if the cooking process is done. This recipe has chili powder so it already has some spice to begin with. I ended up adding 2 tablespoons of gochujang.
You can cook the rice while this cooks, I wrote my how-to cook rice with the Kimchi fried rice recipe, you can found it here.
I could’ve had a bit more broth in the final result, or serve the rice in a separate bowl to avoid having the rice absorb all the broth. Nonetheless, it was really yummy and spicy the way I like it. This is honestly one of my favorite ways to cook tofu, it’s easy, it’s no-brainer and if I forget to marinate it, it still ends up being delicious.
Tell me in the comments if you try this out! And how you liked it! I had someone tell me how they liked one of my previous recipes (Kimchi fried rice), and I loved to hear the feedback.
I would like to go a bit off-topic in the end of post today, because I woke up to very sad news this morning. My cat was accidentally killed last night in a car accident and I am very sad about this. I really love my baby lazy cat and I am going to miss him so much. He used to love food and sleep and was such an adorable derpy cat. I dedicate this post to him because I’m sure he would have enjoyed messing with me while cooking this meal. Rest in peace in the cat heaven. Love you tons, L.
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