This post includes the step-by-step information on “how to cook tofu” in two different styles- the crispy pan-fried version and the delicious oven-baked way!
To provide you a comprehensive idea with regards to the key ingredient- “Tofu”, let’s begin with some common questions that may come to your mind when cooking with it.
1. What is tofu made of?
Tofu is made of soybean milk/curd. Soybeans are oval-shaped, dry, yellow beans with a butter-like flavor and texture.
To make tofu, soybeans are first cleaned, soaked in water, and then blended. Next, the liquid is filtered, boiled, & coagulated with magnesium salt and other minerals. The curd derived is then pressed to achieve block shapes which are finally sold as Tofu!
There are various kinds of Tofu available in the market such as silken tofu; firm regular tofu; extra-firm regular tofu; and prepared tofu. The “extra-firm regular tofu” is suitable for pan-frying, as well as baking in the oven.
2. Can I eat tofu raw?
Yes, tofu can be eaten raw! You can open a packet of tofu and eat it right away without any seasonings! The reason being that tofu is made with soybeans which are meticulously cleaned and cooked before pressing and packing them.
If you want to eat raw tofu opt for the soft-block and silken variety!
That said, irrespective of which variety of tofu you purchase, it is necessary to drain off the extra water present in the tofu block. Another way is to soak the tofu block in a bowl of freshwater just before consuming it.
3. How do you Press Tofu?
You can press tofu in either of the two methods given below:-
- Paper Towels: Wrap the tofu block with paper towels. Place the wrapped tofu on a chopping board/tray and put a heavy pan/container (for weight) on top. The extracted water will be soaked by the paper towels.
- Tofu Press: There are various metal/plastic tofu presses available in the market. To use that you simply put the tofu in the middle bowl, place the top bowl on the tofu and lock the sides. The bottom bowl will hold the extracted water.
Both the methods to press tofu need 15-30 minutes. The result is a solid & dense textured tofu block which is ready for cutting and cooking.
4. How to Cut Tofu?
To cut tofu into equal-sized cubes:-
- First, cut the tofu lengthwise in half.
- Flip the tofu holding both pieces together and cut in half again length-wise.
- Then, cut the tofu breadth-wise in half.
- Cut the bread-wise halved portions in halves as well.
5. How to Cook Tofu in a Pan – Crispy Pan-Fried Tofu
Things you’ll need
- A block of extra-firm tofu (15-16 ounces)
- 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil (or any vegetable oil)
- Salt (optional)
How long to fry tofu in a pan?
It takes about 20 minutes to fry tofu in a pan!
- Start off by unpacking the tofu block and pressing it for 15-30 minutes so that the excess water is drained and you are left with a dense block. (*tofu pressing technique is mentioned above)
- Next, cut the pressed tofu into an-inch thick cubes, transfer all the pieces into a zip-lock bag, seal the bag, and put it in the freezer for 4-6 hours.
- Place a skillet on the stove over medium-high heat and drizzle the olive oil (4-5 tablespoons).
- Once the oil is nice and hot, release the top tofu cubes into the skillet. (* ensure not to overcrowd the skillet, and place the tofu pieces in a single layer without over-lapping)
- Cook each side of the tofu cubes for 3 minutes. Do not stir. Leave the tofu alone until they are beautifully golden brown. Then, flip the side using tongs.
- Transfer to a cooling rack.
Once cooled, serve the crispy fried tofu seasoned with salt or along with a sauce/dip. Consume within a few hours of frying or else they will no-longer be crispy and rather turn chewy. You can also add the fried tofu cubes to various stir-fry recipes.
6. Health Benefits of Tofu
Tofu is a fabulous source of protein. Anyone following a vegan/vegetarian diet can add it to their daily meals and get the necessary protein essential for the human body. The soy protein present in tofu boosts renal function.
Additionally, tofu can aid in reducing bad cholesterol levels, enhance memory, safeguard from liver damage, and curtail bone loss!
Tofu is a versatile ingredient as this mild protein adapts to the flavors it is cooked with! Knowing how to cook tofu in the pan/oven in the correct way equips you to extract the best flavor and texture.
You can devour the delectable tofu for a healthy meal on weekdays/weekends as a simple recipe or pair it with your favorite stir-fries, salads, and baked cuisines.
Read More: How To Make Baked Tofu – Baked Tofu Recipe