How do I cook tofu?

Rose Reisman
Nutrition & Dietetics
Back in the day, we equated vegetarians with tofu, not considered one of the tastiest of foods. But today tofu has become a main staple in our western world with its multiplicity of uses.

Tofu is the curds of soy milk and a great source of protein.

Extra firm and firm tofu is solid with a meaty texture and perfect for replacing the meat, chicken or fish in recipes. It’s great grilled or sautéed and added to stir fries, soups, chilis and spaghetti sauce. This is where chopsticks come in handy!

I like to marinate my tofu in the sauce I’m cooking it in or use a tasty vinaigrette for about 2 hours. This increases the flavor.

Medium tofu is firm yet has a smoother consistency and is perfect either mashed or puréed in soups, dips, sauces and perfect for cheesecakes especially if trying to omit the dairy.

Soft or silken tofu is very smooth and delicate. It’s perfect for cream soups, sauces, salad dressings and creamy desserts.

Try adding tofu to your diet at least once a week.
Keri Gans
Nutrition & Dietetics
If you’ve never cooked with tofu, you’ll be surprised at how versatile it is, and how tasty it can be. These tips can get you started, but you’re sure to branch out from here.
  • Use tofu instead of chicken in a stir-fry with lots of veggies.
  • Add chunks of firm tofu to soups and stews.
  • Try marinating tempeh or firm tofu in low-fat barbecue sauce and then grilling it, or cut it into chunks, sauté it, and add it to chili or spaghetti sauce.
  • Use tofu to make lasagna and meatballs instead of regular meat.
  • Make “egg salad” with tofu chunks, diced celery, low-fat mayonnaise, and spicy brown mustard.
  • Substitute puréed silken tofu for all or part of the mayonnaise, sour cream, cream cheese, or ricotta cheese in dips and creamy salad dressings.
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Cheryl Tallman
Nutrition & Dietetics
Tofu is extremely versatile. Here are some quick ideas to add tofu into your family meals:
Firm tofu:
  • Add cubes of firm tofu to soup, stew, chili, and stir-fry recipes.
  • Mix small cubes or crumbles of firm tofu into a meatloaf recipe.
  • Marinate tofu slices in barbecue sauce, char it on the grill and serve it on crusty French bread or with a homemade cornbread.
  • Marinate firm tofu cubes in teriyaki sauce, thread the cubes on a wooden skewer with onions, peppers and mushrooms. Cook on BBQ grill or in a grill pan.
  • Follow the instructions on a package of taco seasoning, and substitute firm, crumbled tofu for ground beef or use a mixture of tofu and ground beef to make awesome tofu tacos.
  • Substitute firm tofu for ricotta or cottage cheese that is called for in your pasta recipes -- tofu is wonderful in lasagna.
Soft and Silken tofu:
  • Mash soft tofu with cottage cheese, avocado, chopped cilantro, a dash of lime juice and salt and pepper to make a delicious sandwich spread.
  • Blend a package dried dip mix with soft or silken tofu or use a mixture of sour cream and tofu for healthier party dip.
  • Replace all or part of the cream in creamed soups with silken tofu.
  • Prepare instant Miso soup (available at Asian markets of health food stores), just before serving add 8-10 small cubes of soft tofu to each bowl. It will taste just like it does when served in a sushi restaurant.
  • Blend silken tofu with a touch of soy sauce or tamari and top with chopped scallions. Serve this dip with rice crackers for a simple and authentic Japanese appetizer.
Baked tofu:
  • Slice baked tofu and use in place of cold cuts or cheese in sandwiches.
  • Top a green salad with small cubes of Asian spice-flavored baked tofu and packaged crispy rice noodles. Toss the salad with a bottled ginger vinaigrette.
  • Thread baked tofu cubes on a skewer with mushrooms (preferably shitakes). Char on BBQ grill or in a grill pan. Sprinkle with chopped chives or green onions and sever on a platter for a great summer side dish or appetizer.
Thinking of a stir fry for dinner? Toss in some tofu. Too hot for a big steak? Grill firm or extra-firm tofu instead. Not only is tofu one of the most versatile ingredients, it's also full of nutritional value. Tofu is a good source of iron, is very low in saturated fat and has no cholesterol. Tofu comes in varying textures and firmness, including extra-firm, firm, soft and silken.

Recipe ideas include:
  • Stir fry. Dice extra-firm tofu into cubes and add in two minutes after the chopped vegetables.
  • Salad. Slice a tofu block into 1-inch pieces. Mix together soy sauce, pepper and lime and marinate for one hour. Heat a non-stick skillet to medium and add the tofu. Cook until caramelized, about three to four minutes on each side. Add to your favorite salad.
  • Grilled. Cut firm tofu into 2-inch thick pieces. Marinate for one hour in olive oil, pepper and oregano, basil or thyme; grill over medium high heat until cooked through--about two to three minutes per side.
  • Smoothie. In a blender, mix one banana, 1 cup non-fat or low-fat regular or soy milk, 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and one container of silken tofu. Blend on high for two to three minutes until smooth.
When you use tofu instead of meat as a main dish, you'll get lots of flavor without all the fat.
Sarah Krieger
Nutrition & Dietetics
Tofu can be very versatile and tasty in many dishes, but it helps to use the right kind for the right recipe. If you want to add cubes of tofu to a stir-fry, start with the extra-firm tofu, drain it and pat it dry. Then you add to a medium-hot pan and let brown on each side before adding vegetables. Turn it lightly so it stays in cubes. It also likes a non-stick pan or a pan with a small amount of oil.

For recipes where a smooth texture is desired, aim for silken or soft tofu. This can be mashed with a small amount of plain yogurt, mustard, relish and salt/pepper for a lovely "mock egg salad". Silken tofu can also be used in smoothies, dips or salad dressings. It can really be replaced in most recipes where yogurt or eggs are called for.
Molly Morgan
Nutrition & Dietetics
Tofu can be a great protein source in many dishes and can even stand-in for an egg substitute. In general, tofu has a bland taste although it will take on the flavor of what it is cooked with! Great ways to work-in tofu: marinade it and grill it or cook it on the stove top in a skillet as a replacement for meat at a meal; crumble it and stir it into spaghetti sauce, it will thicken the sauce; blend 1/4 cup of tofu with 1 tablespoon of water and saute it with peppers and onions for a delicious 'scrambeled' breakfast!

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.