Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My Courageous, Outrageous First Attempt at Making Tofu for Dinner

Did you know that April is National Soy Month? American soy milk and I get along fine, perhaps owing to the choice I have between vanilla or chocolate, both of which are fine with me. Tofu and I have a more complex relationship. Chinese stinky tofu is a big no. Just no.

In America, sometimes I enjoy tofu (as in pad thai, miso soup, etc.), but I have encountered two problems: 1) The distinctly fermented taste may come through too strongly or 2) The texture gets too slippery and slimy at times. However, I also know that there’s a lot to love about soy products, which are believed to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and isoflavones.

So, for this week’s Meatless Monday, I decided to add more protein to our daily diet, and the easiest way to do so was to try adding tofu to my vegetable and udon noodle stir fry. I was determined not to end up with slimy bars of goo, so I consulted my most recent cookbook acquisition: Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. (Supposedly, it’s the Bible of vegetarian cooking, and was written by the long-time chef from Greens restaurant in San Francisco.)

I have learned that the key to a nice, golden brown, slightly crisp, non-slimy tofu is to follow these steps: Start with extra-firm tofu and drain it between paper towels for maybe 10 minutes. We want to get rid of the extra liquid it has been stored in. Then, slice the tofu into cubes. Next, heat a pan or wok with canola oil until the oil gets really hot and starts popping a bit.

Then, fry the tofu in the oil until it’s brown on both sides. (This is easier said than done if you have a fear of sizzling hot oil popping out onto your arms, as I do. I wore long sleeves as a protective measure.) When golden brown, remove the tofu and place on a plate and set aside. Now you’ve got your crispified tofu all ready to be added to your stir fry, and coated with plenty of sauce if you don’t want to taste too much strong soy flavor. Excellent!


  1. I'm kind of scared of tofu due to an incident I had with it when I was twelve. I'm not sure what I did, but it tasted like paint! :/

  2. Yeah, Erika, I kind of felt that way the first time I drank real soy milk in Hong Kong. I took a big swig and almost spit it back out. The Soy flavor was overwhelming. That's why I stick with Vanilla or Chocolate now.


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