How to Make Tofu Really Freaking Delicious – Tofu 101

Crispy Pan Fried Tofu
Crispy Pan-Fried Tofu

When I talk with folks about meatless meals, the conversation always comes around to tofu. I find people in two camps: (1) those who hate it and are sure it is always bland (2) those who want to like it, but aren’t really sure how to work with it to make it delicious.

I’m here to help.

There are many different kinds of tofu and ways to prepare it. You can buy it anywhere from soft as custard to extremely dense; it can be fermented, pressed, deep fried, dehydrated, etc. You can even make it yourself. That’s not what I’m here to tell you about today. If you want to get deeply into the ways of tofu, you want my friend Andrea Nguyen’s book, Asian Tofu, which must stand as the new definitive work on the subject.

By the way, please notice the title of her book: Asian Tofu. I know there are folks who like to do all sorts of non-Asian things with tofu, like turn it into “cheesecake”, smoothies, lasagna, etc. If you enjoy such things, godspeed. For me, tofu is best understood as a food with a long history throughout Asia. As I talk about in my cookbook, it is not a meat substitute; in fact in many traditional dishes from China, Korea, etc. tofu is served with meat. Tofu is simply a way of turning the humble soybean into something that, with proper cooking, is hearty,  craveable and nutritious, with a subtle, sweet flavor and a range of appetizing textures.

But back to the point: Today, I’m not going to teach you a bunch of ways to cook tofu. I’m going to teach you one basic method for making pan-fried tofu with a crispy, browned crust that is absolutely delicious. This is my go-to approach that I use in lots of recipes, and oh-so-frequently for simple improvised weeknight meals. It is easy to do, takes just minutes, and the results are far superior to simply cutting up cubes and throwing them in your stir-fry.

Step 1: Buy Good Tofu

Don’t panic if this doesn’t work for you, but if you live in a big city,  there is a good chance that there is at least one store that is making fresh tofu every day. For example, in Seattle we have Thanh Son Tofu and Northwest Tofu. Both are great local artisans that make a product incomparably better than what you’ll find at the grocery. When I walk into Thanh Son in the afternoon, I can buy a pound of extra-firm tofu for about $1.50 and it is literally still warm from production. (If you want to recommend tofu shops in other cities, please add them in the comments below.)

Ok, I hear you: you don’t live near a tofu store, or you aren’t willing to go track one down. Fair enough. (But trust me, when you eventually do, it will be worth it.) Your next best bet is to find a store that moves a lot of tofu. You want the stuff packed in a rectangular, water filled box (or maybe wrapped in plastic), in the refrigerator section. Please not the shelf-stable UHT boxes. Choose an extra-firm tofu with the latest expiration date you can find. That is usually going to be a better indicator of quality than the brand. If you open it and smell more than a tiny whiff of sourness,  or it feels slimy, it isn’t going to be good.

Step 2: Cut Your Tofu

Open the package, drain out the water, and cut your ‘fu into slabs about 3/8″ thick. That will give you a nice ratio of crust to interior. You can, if desired, break those slabs down further into strips or cubes. (For cubes, 1/2″ is probably a better size.) That was easy.

Optional Step 2.5: Soak Your Tofu in Hot, Salted Water

This wasn’t in the original article, but Andrea Nguyen wrote in to encourage me to try it, and indeed it does make the crust even crispier and more delicious. Bring some well-salted water to a boil and pour it over your tofu. Let this stand for about 15 minutes, then drain. I don’t understand the science of why this improves the crust, but I’ve tried it side-by-side with two pieces cut from the same original block, and fried at the same time, and the difference is noticeable.

By the way, if you are finding this post helpful, my cookbook has 150 recipes that will get you out of the rut of making the same few vegetarian dishes over and over again. Why not pick up a copy right now?

Step 3: Dry Your Tofu

Were you thinking I’d say marinate your tofu? In my experience, this is a waste of time. The marinade barely penetrates. You can flavor it with a sauce, later.

Were you thinking I’d say press (weight) your tofu? You can, if you want, but that is why I had you buy extra firm tofu in the first place, so that it already has a firm texture.

Tofu 101 - DryingWhat we need to do is get the surface of your tofu dry. Put down a clean dishtowel. Lay the tofu out in a single layer on said dish towel. Put another clean dishtowel on top and pat well, all over, to remove as much surface moisture as possible. This is what is going to allow it to brown. It will also reduce dangerous and unpleasant sputtering when you put it in the skillet.

Step 4: Pan Fry Your Tofu

The optimum pan for this job is a big cast-iron skillet.  It holds a ton of heat, and develops a lovely non-sticking surface. We are going to cook this over very high heat, so you probably shouldn’t use a non-stick pan as it might damage the coating or even be dangerous. A wok is really only a great choice if you have a wok burner capable of pumping out serious BTUs. Otherwise, the flat bottomed skillet works better because it allows the tofu to stay in contact with the hot surface for longer periods of time.

So: heat that skillet over high heat. On my stove: maximum heat. If you have a commercial level Wolf or Viking, etc., it might be an notch down from there. When it is hot, add about 2 tablespoons of a neutral vegetable oil or peanut oil. Something with a high smoke point. Swirl to cover the surface. Pat the tofu dry one more time and put it in the skillet it in a single layer, with plenty of room around each piece. Don’t crowd the pan, or the heat will drop too much and the tofu will steam, not brown. If you are doing a full pound, you’ll probably need to do this in two batches.

Tofu 101 - FryingCook on one side until it is deeply golden brown, then flip (preferably with a slotted spatula). If you are doing cubes, it becomes impractical to get all 6 sides of every piece, so instead you’ll just toss them every minute or so and hope to get most of them.  When both sides are done, remove to a plate and, depending on what you are going to do with them, possibly season with a little sea salt. Done.

If you are going to turn this into a stir-fry but don’t have that wok burner, don’t be tempted to add the vegetables and sauce on top of the tofu. It will ruin the crust. Instead, remove the tofu from the pan, do your vegetables, then add the tofu back just in time to make friends with the sauce.

So again, the keys: buy good tofu, get it really dry, fry in a hot skillet with a decent amount of oil, don’t crowd the pan, and cook until it is really brown.

Was that so hard?

So What do I do With This New Found Tofu Knowledge?

How about yakisoba, tofu & kimchi dinner for 1, jap chae, Thai tofu salad (yam tofu), red curry delicata squash with tofu … and in my cookbook you’ll find khao soi (Chiang Mai curry noodles), seared tofu poke (Hawaiian style), Sichuan dry-fried green beans with tofu and more.

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Posted by Michael Natkin on Tuesday, May 29th, 2012 in Favorites, Gluten-Free or modifiable, Kid Friendly, Main Courses, Recipes, Seattle, Theory and Rants, Vegan or Modifiable.

160 Responses to “How to Make Tofu Really Freaking Delicious – Tofu 101”

  1. May 29, 2012 at 6:30 am #

    Excellent post on crisp-frying up tofu. One additional tip: in order to make the tofu even more moisture-free, zap it in the microwave for a minute or two and pat dry with towels each time. Microwaving will “cook” it a bit, bringing to the fore more moisture which is what you wish to remove before you put it into your skillet to brown.

    I trust this is helpful!

    • May 29, 2012 at 8:09 am #

      That’s an interesting tip. I’ve seen recipes that have you poach the tofu in boiling water before frying, so I imagine microwaving might have a similar effect on the texture, as well as expunging moisture. I’ll have to give this is a try.

    • May 29, 2012 at 8:55 am #

      Smriti — Microwaving tofu to facilitate draining is somewhat akin to warming it up by letting it sit in hot water or blanching it. The heat helps to open up the pores in the tofu. Then the water leaks out…

    • diane
      November 4, 2012 at 8:56 am #

      liked this info much. have been dredging my tofu in cornstarch before frying (sometimes seasoning it and sometimes not) which is really good, but i will try this as it is probably a little healthier. thanks michael, smriti and andrea.

  2. Emma
    May 29, 2012 at 7:08 am #

    In Denver, we have always relied on the fabulous Denver Tofu, but their space got bought out several months ago, the ultimate fate a mystery, and I am bereft and tofu-less! If anyone in the area can recommend a place in the area to buy comparably good tofu, I will forever be in your debt. Barring that, it looks like I’ll be making my own.

  3. May 29, 2012 at 7:10 am #

    And to think I didn’t even know it was possible to buy freshly made tofu! I’d love to do a comparison taste test some day. :-) Thanks for the reminder to grill up some tofu soon.

  4. May 29, 2012 at 7:21 am #

    Fantastic post, thanks! After years of cooking with tofu, I still learned a lot. My question: have you made your own tofu? I’m told it’s really, really simple but I haven’t tried it myself yet.

    • May 29, 2012 at 8:10 am #

      Hey Kelly – I’ve never made my own either, but Andrea’s book has motivated me. Look for a post in the next few weeks.

    • May 29, 2012 at 9:50 am #

      I have made my own tofu a few times and I have to say that while it was a great experience, I didn’t end up with the “best” tofu. In the process, though, you do end up with a lot of okara which is the soy pulp which can be put to great use.

      I highly recommend Andrea Ngyen’s Asian Tofu book, and also The Book of Tofu, to get you started.

      Luckily, here in the SF Bay area we have tofu makers. My favorite packaged tofu is HodoSoy and also from WA state, Small Planet Tofu.

      Michael, I can’t wait to hear about your tofu-making experience and if it differs from mine.

      • May 31, 2012 at 10:19 pm #

        Thanks Jill. Good tofu depends on many things — try using Laura soybeans, which is fabulous. Also, it takes some practice. The fact that you made a block of tofu is fabulous! There’s tofu pudding and other kinds of tofu that you can make. Or, just buy tofu and cook fabulous food with it.

  5. Mixolidia
    May 29, 2012 at 7:51 am #

    This is great. I will try immediately. Where can I find fresh tofu in Miami? Preferably Miami, the main land, not Miami Beach or Aventura but I will take those too if push come to shove. Sorry to be so specific but sometimes people think all these cities are interchangeable & their not. And sometimes traveling so far is not always worth the gas.

    Oo Kathy, I would love to see a comparison test. I, too, did not realize stores sold fresh tofu. I thought you either made it yourself, go it at a restaurant or bought the stuff that comes in the box.

    • May 29, 2012 at 8:12 am #

      Re Miami, I don’t know but maybe another reader will make a suggestion. If you can find tofu that was made that day, you won’t need a comparison! It is like the difference between artisan bread from a small bakery and wonder bread. Well, maybe not quite that extreme, but close.

  6. May 29, 2012 at 8:18 am #

    I’m glad you will try it! Incidentally, if you ever wish to do a post on homemade paneer (Indian cotttage cheese), I’ll be curious to see how you do it. I’ve made it at home many a time and although not rock hard, it is firm enough to pass muster! BTW, I’m the one who was inspired to make my onion kulchas a while back, and also recommended pressure-cooking your saag instead of boiling. Hope these ring bells!

  7. Emma
    May 29, 2012 at 8:22 am #

    Kelly, I’ve made my own tofu and while it’s easy, it’s also time-consuming. I used the old classic “The Book of Tofu” so I’m excited to try Andrea’s book and see if it’s a little easier to understand. (The other has a decided ’70s feel to it, and the instructions are not as clear & appealing as one might like.) It reminds me quite a bit of making bread: you can definitely do it at home, but it’s so much easier if there’s a good supply near you!

    Michael, tips on finding good local tofu? We Japanese Americans in the Denver area have been so reliant on Denver Tofu that I’ve never even looked elsewhere.

  8. Martin
    May 29, 2012 at 8:24 am #

    re Denver:
    Hi Emma,
    Little Saigon Market on the corner of S. Federal and Alameda has fresh tofu. Also,
    Costco has switched suppliers and I like their new one. No longer comes in blocks but in thicker slices. Used it for the caramel tofu recipe with excellent results (except I turned the sauce into rock candy).

    Michael, I agree that marinating tofu is futile. And it interferes with getting is suitably dry.

  9. Emma
    May 29, 2012 at 8:27 am #

    Little Saigon Market! Beautiful. I imagine they don’t have my favorite Japanese variety, kinugoshi or soft-silken…. Maybe I’ll work to prefect that one, myself. Many, many thanks, Martin.

  10. Martin
    May 29, 2012 at 8:35 am #

    Emma, for Japanese specialties you should get lucky at Sakura Square’s Pacific Mercantile Market in LoDo: link to yelp.com

  11. Emma
    May 29, 2012 at 8:40 am #

    Yes, I hit Pacific quite often, but Denver Tofu has been our supplier for decades so the whole community is at something of a loss. There are rumors that Denver Tofu has been bought by someone else, but nobody’s been able to confirm (or, for that matter, deny) these. Pacific has some okay kinugoshi but it’s from LA and I just don’t find it quite as good, probably because it has to travel from California.

  12. May 29, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    it sounds delicious Michael. I’ll definitely try soon as I looove tofu. especially those crunchy brown bits. x

  13. AD
    May 29, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    Love, love, love your blog. A couple of questions.

    1. Have you tried the freeze-thaw method of cooking tofu to make it chewier? It works well if you want a meatier bite. Requires more planning though.
    2. Have you ever coated tofu in corn starch and then pan fried it to get a crispy texture like the restaurants? I have done it, but it makes the pan very dirty, so I don’t do it too often.

    • May 29, 2012 at 9:01 am #

      I think the freeze-thaw texture is interesting; not something I necessarily want every day but I do like it in its own way. I have done coated tofu occasionally, and I agree it is pleasing. Andrea has at least one method for that in her book beyond the plain cornstarch coating.

  14. Pamela
    May 29, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    Emma, do not overlook H Mart on Parker in Aurora. Not only do they have some of the finest homemade tofu, but they make rice cakes right before you and have the best produce section of any place I have found. Fresh shitakes and more sauces than you can ever use.

  15. Emma
    May 29, 2012 at 9:05 am #

    I do love H Mart, Pamela, but it’s just far enough from where I live to be mildly annoying to get to….

  16. May 29, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    Michael,

    Thanks for championing tofu and my book! I blush at your saying that “Asian Tofu” is the *new definitive” work on the lil’ bean curd.

    Love that you point out the wealth of artisan tofu shops in Asian communities all over the US. You just have to look for these mom-and-pop places. Asian markets often stock local tofu because freshness is key to tofu lovers.

    When I interviewed tofu makers in Japan, Taiwan and China, they often said that their tofu shops are the equivalent of our local bakeries. People go daily for some tofu, take it home and cook it. It’s an everyday food. Only in supermarkets did I see tofu in tubs. It’s typically put into plastic bags and carried off.

    With regard to frying tofu, if you soak it in salted hot water for about 15 minutes, drain, then shallow-fry or deep-fry, it gets a gorgeous crust and is lightly seasoned. And, you can keep tofu that you’ve fried around for days! I often call for that in Asian Tofu as it makes a really nice fried tofu.

    • May 29, 2012 at 9:10 am #

      Thanks, Andrea! And I say your book is the new definitive work, because it absolutely is. The Book of Tofu was great for its time, but the English-speaking world was really for a modern overview of this subject. I hope it sparks a big revival in bean curd interest.

      I’m definitely going to try the soaking and microwaving things; I was dimly aware of them but I guess it never struck me as seeming like it would make a big difference. I’ll do a side-by-side comparison, should be a cool learning experience.

      • May 29, 2012 at 9:36 am #

        William Shurtleff and Akiko Ayogagi wrote a pivotal book in the “Book of Tofu”. They were on a mission in the 1970s. Much has changed and Bill loves “Asian Tofu”. He was the first person I interviewed for the book introduction.

        Tofu can be manipulated in a zillion (okay not a zillion, but many) ways, and there are different types too. Poke around at a market and you’ll see it in the refrigerated section, dry goods, jarred and frozen. It’s endlessly fascinating. I kid you not.

        • May 29, 2012 at 9:38 am #

          Absolutely! It is so cool that Bill and Akiko are still involved, several decades later. They have made a huge contribution.

        • Emma
          May 29, 2012 at 9:48 am #

          Yes, I absolutely still love my “BOT,” but I’m excited to get my hands on a copy of “Asian Tofu.” Quick question: I’ve ordered nigari from sources in Japan in the past. Is there any distributor closer to home? Gets kind of pricey when it comes from overseas….

          • May 31, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

            Hi Emma,

            You can order tofu coagulants — either food grade gypsum or refined nigari crystals — from this source: link to soymilkmaker.com

            Scroll on down! A home brewing supply shop will have the gypsum. I detail various kinds of coagulants in the Homemade Tofu Tutorial in Asian Tofu. There are types of tofu that you can make without starting from the bean! Check them out.

    • May 31, 2012 at 9:43 am #

      I tried a side-by-side test of the hot salt water soak last night. Took two slabs from the same block of high quality local firm tofu. Soaked one in salted water that I brought to a boil and poured over the tofu, left the other as is. Patted them both dry and pan-fried as described. Indeed! The soaked one got a significantly crisper, thicker crust that I really liked. I couldn’t noticeably taste the seasoning, but the the crust was a big improvement. Considering how easy this is to do, I’m going to add it as an optional step in the article. Thanks for suggesting it! I’m curious what is happening scientifically that creates the difference in crust.

      • May 31, 2012 at 10:24 pm #

        Glad you tried it out. It does wonders with deep-fried tofu. The flavor result depends on the firmness of your tofu. There are different ranges of firm. That said, the salted water is drawing out a bit of the natural umami in the tofu. Foods that I prepare with tofu that have been prepped that way taste better overall.

        I’m not 100% sure what the scientific explanation is for the better crust on the fried tofu. It’s as if it’s tightening up the outer layer.

      • taberarenai
        July 27, 2012 at 10:48 am #

        This tofu technique is genius. As a scientist (and vegan that lived in Japan), I can’t believe I never heard of it before! I suspect that due to osmosis, the water molecules leave the tofu (especially from the surface in direct contact with the salted water) in order to dilute the salted water. The hot water would speed up the process. This is great because your tofu shouldn’t get all salty which can happen if you try to use a salty marinade. I pretty much need to go try this right now but I don’t have any tofu /(>.<)\

  17. May 29, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    Crispy tofu is definitely where it’s at! Do you (or any reading these comments) know of any places to buy fresh tofu in the Salt Lake City area? Thanks!

  18. May 29, 2012 at 9:49 am #

    In many Asian restaurants tofu is pretty gross or at least meh. Either it’s really dry, often too chewy strips or just huge, bland, mushy lumps of tofuness. I don’t usually cook my tofu crisp, but I do want it firm and flavourful. Baking is the best if you really want to infuse it with flavour.

  19. Cindy Myers
    May 29, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    Thanks for the tips! I’ve tried the freezing method which makes the tofu a little too spongy for our taste and am realizing that marinating is a waste of time too, since it only absorbs into the thin outer layer and then you can’t get it crispy without burning the sauce. We like Wildwood organic super firm sproutofu, but never knew about homemade. I love learning new things! We have a H-Mart and Uwajimaya here in Portland Oregon. Can anyone recommend a fresh homemade brand or shop here in SW Portland?Thanks!

    • May 31, 2012 at 10:28 pm #

      Try one of the Vietnamese tofu shops, such as Thanh Son, 103 NE 82nd Ave, Portland, OR 97220. Thanks for your interest in Asian Tofu.

  20. May 29, 2012 at 11:24 am #

    Hi Michael, great post! In between steps 2 and 3, I sometimes salt the tofu lightly and dab it with a towel before adding to a hot prepared cast-iron. Then when the initial tofu goes in, I don’t touch it at all. Even when I’m tempted to move it around. I leave it for a few minutes until a small shake to the pan moves the tofu. This has prevented many “tofu sticks” to the bottom of the pan which can happen if it’s too watery (imo). I would echo the high quality extra-firm Asian tofus (and wow what awesome reader recs for where to buy). Abroad, I found the best tofu at, no surprise, Thai and Korean shops.
    Mmm I love tofu.

  21. Judy Enos Himmelman
    May 29, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    still soy, I avoid it ty

  22. Sondi
    May 29, 2012 at 11:57 am #

    Does anyone know a maker of Tofu in Utah? We live about 30 minutes south of SLC. I’m a new vegetarian and I’m struggling to like Tofu. So if fresher is better tasting, I’m for it. Utah is not very culturally diverse, but I’m hoping someone might be making tofu in Utah.

  23. Emma
    May 29, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    Hi Sondi. I don’t know any tofu-makers in Utah, but I can recommend a couple books for you that I think are especially good for new veggies: Madhur Jaffrey’s excellent “World Vegetarian” is great if, like me, you like diverse eats. Mark Bittman’s “Food Matters Cookbook” is good for people transitioning to vegetarianism, and lots of the recipes are very easy to make. And the excellent folks at Post-Punk Kitchen (link to theppk.com) have a great selection of cookbooks, my favorite of which is “Veganomicon.” I don’t have Michael’s book yet, but I’ve tried several of the recipes on this site, and they’re excellent, so check those out as well! Many vegetarian recipes are completely tofu-free.

  24. anne vaillancourt
    May 29, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

    I have been marinating tofu for years. You need use Soy sauce or Tamari in the marinade and let it sit for at least 2 hours.

  25. Theresa Prescott
    May 29, 2012 at 5:03 pm #

    Cut the tofu, dry it and dust it with cornstarch before pan frying it.

  26. May 29, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

    Waiting to pull a cookie sheet with baked tofu out the oven right now. I like to freeze, thaw, rinse, and pat between towels. Marinate for an hour and the results are always good. It helps to use smaller cubed tofu to get the marinade to soak up all the flavor. Thanks for this really informative blog.

  27. May 30, 2012 at 2:12 am #

    In Louisville, it’s Coco Tran’s Roots and Heart & Soy. Great restaurants, great fresh-made tofu.

  28. May 31, 2012 at 5:39 am #

    I love crispy tofu! My son also don’t want to eat tofu unless its fried. I’m always cooking it with sprouts.

  29. Sondi
    May 31, 2012 at 8:03 am #

    Emma, thanks… I already have Madhur Jaffrey’s excellent “World Vegetarian”. I think it is a GREAT cookbook. I think the Indian way of thinking about eating is much healthier than the American way. I’ll check the others out. :-)

  30. Betty Ann Besa-Quirino
    May 31, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    I love tofu. I grew up eating tofu. I’m going to try your cookbook’s recipe !

  31. May 31, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

    If there’s not a tofu shop near you, which is my situation, it’s relatively easy to make your own tofu from store-bought soy milk.

    500ml soy milk
    1tsp nigari OR 2tsp calcium sulfate dissolved in 8oz hot water

    Bring the soy milk to near scalding. Make the solution from nigari (or calcium sulfate) in 8oz water while the soy milk heats up. Once it’s hot, pour 3/4 of the coagulant solution into the pot, stirring gently. Allow to rest for two minutes. After resting, stir very gently, checking for any liquid, milky areas. If there are some, use the other 1/4 of the solution. If not, and if the soy milk has separated into small, white curds of tofu and an amber liquid (whey), you’re ready to put the curds into your tofu mold. Line the mold with cheesecloth, then pour the curd in. Place a weight on top (I use right around 5lbs.) and allow to sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, empty the resulting block into a tub of cold water, and allow to rest for one hour before storing in the fridge. Change the soaking water daily.

    Nigari is nearly impossible to find locally in the US, but it’s easily available on the internet. Best tofu ever.

  32. Cook
    June 1, 2012 at 11:58 am #

    OK, you’ve convinced me to at least try something with ‘plain’ tofu; fried enough to change the underlying texture just might be enough to change my mind. Heretofore my only regular use has been a super-firm, smoked variety, usually with pepper flakes that I small dice and add to some (Asian) soups. I am beginning to taste the fried firm tofu, perhaps with some black bean and garlic paste and a dash of sesame oil. Great post and recipe, thanks!! C.

  33. Annie Banani
    June 3, 2012 at 5:37 am #

    Thanks Ben! I am going to look into this myself. We have come across a GREAT recipe for tofu in peanut sauce… we’ve modified it to include extra spice and curry. Are you interested?

  34. Herbivoracious
    June 3, 2012 at 6:37 am #

    Annie Banani always love to hear a good recipe!

  35. Susan G.
    June 3, 2012 at 6:52 am #

    I am not a natural cook; that is, I am creative in lots of other ways, but not so much with food. I’ve been cooking for a long time, and I find that, although I’m not a “great cook”, I DO follow directions really well! The upshot is, if I have a great recipe, I cook a great dish. That said, I have a question which will sound ridiculously anal: When you say soak the tofu in “hot, salty water”, how salty are we talking?? How much salt should I add to say, 6 cups of near-boiling water?

    • June 3, 2012 at 7:13 am #

      Good question, Susan. I haven’t measured, but I’d say about 2 teaspoons – enough that it tastes about like ocean, same as you would for the water you boil pasta in.

  36. June 3, 2012 at 7:34 am #

    I’m glad so many folks are finding this article helpful! By all means, help me spread the word about good tofu – please share with your friends on twitter and facebook.

  37. Zebada Aleia Mohamed
    June 3, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    Awesome! Thank you! :)

  38. Crazy Raw Vegan
    June 3, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    funny – I found (and used) this last night!! it really works :)

  39. April Blankenship
    June 3, 2012 at 5:08 pm #

    i love tofu in restaurants, but have never been courageous enough to try cooking it at home – thanks!

  40. Daisy Lynn Austin
    June 3, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

    Just finished my review on amazon! I cook my tofu like you do about 90% of the time. I really like using coconut oil for frying it or sometimes I bake it and it turns out really crispy. The tofu comments ALWAYS come up when speaking to new clients. “Oh, we eat vegetarian dishes sometimes but we don’t eat like a vegetarian- like eating tofu at every meal. We don’t like it because its bland and rubbery.” It drives me nuts. Then I make it for them and they love it.

  41. Colby
    June 3, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

    Do you know any goof Tofu places in Oklahoma, in the OKC metro area and south?

    • Jeremy
      June 6, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

      In OKC, try the Asian district along Classen Ave north of 23rd St. The Cao Nguyen supermarket should have good quality tofu.

  42. Ben Kressel
    June 4, 2012 at 7:17 pm #

    It’s so good! I made it, for the first time, the day after the initial post and again tonight. My wife said i’d already mastered it. It’s so easy to make perfect tofu! Thanks!!

  43. Herbivoracious
    June 4, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

    Ben Kressel I love to hear that!

  44. Herbivoracious
    June 4, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

    Ben Kressel I love to hear that!

  45. Stef Jhala
    June 5, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    I’ve made it 3 times since I saw this post!! Such a great snack even between meals with some light soy / agave syrup / sriracha / japanese rice vinegar.

  46. AMac
    June 6, 2012 at 2:29 am #

    Yum-crispy, delicious tofu….I typically follow these steps (minus the salted water part…will try for sure!) but I’ve gotten into the habit of dusting my ‘fu with a mixture of cornstarch and garlic salt, then frying a bit of oil. I know, I know…not quite so healthy, but holy hanna, it’s tasty. 

  47. June 7, 2012 at 6:18 pm #

    Just finished dinner–that was goooood! Had the tofu as a side dish, dipped in a little mix of soy/sriracha/sesame oil. Great method; it’s a keeper!

  48. June 10, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

    Thanks so much for this. I already more or less follow this procedure, but I’ve never soaked with salt water. Will definitely try next time as I DO love that crispy crust. Yum.

  49. June 13, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

    I found out about your blog at the BlogHer 2012 Conference in Seattle last weekend. Saw this fabulous tofu post, headed right to Chuminh and happily bought my first ever fresh tofu. Can’t wait to try it. Thanks!

    • June 13, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

      Nice! I’m excited to hear whether you agree with me that there is a big difference vs. grocery store tofu.

  50. Laurie Smith
    June 15, 2012 at 5:28 pm #

    Just tried it, and I have to say that using the big iron pan and the brine made it great, but no matter how much I dried it I had a splattery mess all over the stove. Two questions arise:

    1. I think making large batches to use over time would be great. Have you tried freezing it AFTER frying? Frozen uncooked tofu has a changed texture, but after too much time in the freezer it gets dry and spongy. I’m thinking the absorbed oil might help that.

    2. Have you tried dusting it with a bit of cornstarch after brining and drying it? That might cut down on the splatter. I think I might try that next time.

    • June 15, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

      My guess is that freezing after frying wouldn’t work well, but I can’t say I’ve tried it. If you do, let me know what you find out. Cornstarch dusting can be a nice variation, gives it a little different crust. Not sure it will help that much with the spattering, but maybe. Would be a good experiment to try.

  51. M Simpson
    June 23, 2012 at 11:42 am #

    Hi! I just got your book as a present and it looks really interesting. I think I may venture into these more complicated recipes than I am used to. I’m curious why you did not include the nutritional info on the recipes? I’m sure there are at least thousands of us who need to count calories, or protein or carbs and I’m not sure I even know where to start using some esoteric components of your recipes. Many cookbooks and cooking magazines do this…It really makes cooking and eating these recipes a lot more difficult if I have to do this myself…

    Thanks,
    M.Simpson

    • June 23, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

      Hi M -

      I’m glad you are liking your first look at the book, and of course I’ll be thrilled if you decide to try a few recipes that take a bit more shopping or preparation than you are used to.

      As far as nutritional information goes, my personal approach is all about eating for pleasure and choosing a wide variety of foods, without being particularly focused on tracking protein, calories, etc. That said, I know there are many people who need to track those things, so I’m sorry I wasn’t able to offer it. One thing you could do is to use an online calculator like this one: link to recipes.sparkpeople.com – depending on which nutrients you are concerned about, you probably don’t need to enter every minor ingredient, just the main carb and fat ones. I was surprised at how comprehensive these tools can be though. As a test, I put in “kochujang”, which is a Korean chili paste, and the info came right up.

      Thanks,
      Michael

  52. June 26, 2012 at 8:32 am #

    I find adding a light weight – like a chopping board – at step 3 works well just to gently press some of the moisture out. I also find that when frying, fry for considerably longer than you would think was necessary, then just when the tofu is crisp and browning nicely, add a little honey and soy sauce. The honey caramelises adding a little flavour but a lot of colour.

    • June 26, 2012 at 8:39 am #

      Yes indeed, glazing with something sweet can add a whole layer of flavor – sometimes I use kecap manis (an Indonesian sweet soy sauce, which can be found at Asian markets.)

  53. July 4, 2012 at 7:34 am #

    Hi Michael!

    Thank you for sharing your expertise. I’m a complete newbie to cooking with tofu. I turned to the vegetarian side of life 7 months ago and it’s been awesome! I feel like I’m learning to cook all over again.

    In the Dallas, Texas area, the best tasting tofu I can get my hands on is Wildwood Sproutofu. I actually live in deep East Texas (cattle & poultry country). Finding good tofu is IMPOSSIBLE. Just the other day, I drove 160 miles roundtrip for tofu & organic produce. It’s crazy, but completely worth it. Anyhoo.

    Thanks again!

    • July 4, 2012 at 8:55 am #

      Wow, that is hard work! I’m guessing not a whole lot of CSAs delivering organic produce to your neighborhood, huh? I like that Wildwood Sprouttofu – one of my go-to choices when I can’t make it to the actual tofu store.

      • July 4, 2012 at 10:12 am #

        CSAs and family farms that grow pasture-raised meats fair pretty well here, so long as they have a Dallas market base. As for organic produce, or sustainable farms selling produce, the farmer cannot pay his bills selling to folks that shop Walmart. They too, must take their goods to Dallas.

        I’ve lived in East Texas for 10 years now, and have watched local farms go bankrupt around me. Our town does have a farmers market, where one to two serious gardeners bring true “locally grown” grub. Sadly, there’s just not enough to make a well rounded menu.
        I’m sorry to be a bummer. I’m just trying to share why I drive so far.

        • July 4, 2012 at 10:31 am #

          That’s sad to hear that vegetable farmers can’t make a go of it. It really is a systemic problem, as you say.

  54. July 4, 2012 at 10:26 am #

    Jill McKeever,
    No bummer but it is a truly sad state of affairs when people are so into their meat but forget about the importance of vegetables. I see them change their minds when they are overweight or obese and face serious health issues. It makes me a bit crazy that they wait that long.

    If you continue to consume a meat-based diet and lead a sedentary lifestyle, chances are the you will encounter some chronic (but preventable) illness, whether it be heart disease (the leading killer in the U.S.), cancer, stroke, diabetes and more. Or a number of them at once. That’s the bummer.

    We all have a choice. I hope that the tides change in Texas and other places where meat trumps vegetables, and we can support small farmers who do their best to keep people, and themselves, healthy in more ways than one.

  55. Anna K.
    July 5, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    I wanted to write and leave my appreciation for this technique. I am a longtime vegetarian married to a (tolerant) omnivore and even though one thing we both love is Asian food and stir fries, I’ve never been able to cook good tofu and tempeh. But this technique has thankfully changed all that and I am really truly grateful!

    For the benefit of others, here are some things that have worked for me:

    -A 7/10 is the perfect temp on my stove (which is NOT a Wolf or Viking or anything close to it).
    -Once you put the tofu in the hot oil, you HAVE to leave it alone for a couple minutes before turning or even checking. If you try to lift it before a crust has formed it will just tear off and stick to the pan and make a huge mess.
    -On that note, even though I don’t use a nonstick skillet much in general I have found that it worked better here than my Le Creuset dutch oven. Just extra insurance against sticking. That said, I don’t have my well-seasoned cast iron skillet with me this summer but I think it will work great and eliminate concerns about the nonstick pan.
    -Because I’ve been mainly been including this tofu in stir fries I’ve been cutting it in cubes and being pretty diligent about flipping every cube with a pair of tongs. That gets amazing results but is a lot of work, so I think I might switch to triangles.
    -Patting the cubes in cornstarch after drying and right before putting in the pan enhances the crust even further.

    A huge and sincere thank you to Michael and Andrea! I’d pretty much quit trying to cook tofu but now it’s the best thing on the menu. Next up is an exploration of tempeh…

    • July 5, 2012 at 9:44 am #

      I’m so glad this has made tofu work for you! And thanks for sharing your tips about how you’ve found it works best with your gear.

  56. July 18, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    Just found your blog today thanks to the NYT mention, congrats on all your success! I love pan-fried tofu but never knew a few of your tips like soaking the tofu in hot, salted water. I’ve never bought freshly made tofu, I suppose I should give that a try. I’m on the Seattle Eastside. I do shop at Uwajimaya sometimes, perhaps they have fresh tofu. Guess I’ve been a creature of routine and just picked up my tofu at Trader Joe’s or PCC.

    • July 18, 2012 at 10:57 am #

      Hey Mary – yes, Uwajimaya usually has at least a couple of the local brands of tofu. Not quite as fresh as when you get it at the shop, but very, very good.

  57. Emma
    July 18, 2012 at 11:06 am #

    I’ve just made my first batches of tofu from Andrea Nguyen’s excellent book, and let me tell you all, I am never going back! I think it’s every bit as good as what I used to get from the specialty tofu vendors in Japan, and the process isn’t hard at all. It is a little time-consuming, but most of that is hands-off time. I think the actual work takes somewhere in the neighborhood of half an hour– and it’s totally worth it.

  58. Jenny
    August 3, 2012 at 9:01 am #

    Don’t use peanut oil on high heat–the smoking point isn’t high enough and it will catch fire.

    • August 5, 2012 at 8:16 pm #

      That would definitely be true of unrefined peanut oil. Refined peanut oil is used in most of the wok cooking in China at very high temps, so I don’t think that would necessarily be a problem. (I don’t use it b/c my wife is allergic to peanuts, and though there should be no allergen protein left in refined oil, there is no real reason to add any risk at all.)

  59. Lee
    September 3, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    I tried this, and was inspired to brush it with a tiny bit of vegetarian oyster sauce and put blackening seasoning on the tofu before I fried it. OMG! My health food hating husband scarfed it down. (Told him it was fish.) I told him the reason it was square is that I bought frozen fillets. He said that was the best fish he’d ever had-amazing for frozen. Said the *fish* was so tender it melted in his mouth like butter. Ahem. Yes, that was some tender *fish*. LOL. He suggested we try it in fish tacos, so I guess we will. Blacken seasoning could probably make a flip flop taste good, though. Loved the prep tips you gave: they worked REALLY well!

  60. Janey Winter
    September 9, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

    Been searching high and low for this piece on tofu. I am currently in love with its nutritional value but not exactly on taste. Now, your post solves my problem and deserve my thanks.

  61. Chris of Stumptown
    October 12, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    In Portland, OR I would recommend either Bui Natural or Thanh Son. For softer tofu, Ota is very good.

  62. October 18, 2012 at 8:47 am #

    This is great advice! Often when I fry tofu, must crank up the oven on high in order to dry up all the water. Now, this will be the method used for frying nice crispy & tasty tofu! Thanks for sharing this!

  63. Gail
    November 11, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    If you are in Bellevue, Washington, you can get fresh tofu from Tofu 101 in Factoria. It’s delicious!

  64. Dan
    November 20, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    I find that pressing tofu gets significant water out of extra firm tofu, I get very good marinade absorption in my pressed tofu..it works quite well. Using a press like the EZ Tofu Press gets the water out in 15 minutes and marinade infuses quite easily…

  65. November 27, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

    Trying to go vegan and don’t like tofu but will try this one.

  66. November 30, 2012 at 3:30 am #

    Hi Michael,

    I’m late to the party but wanted to thank you especially for passing on the tip about soaking the tofu in salted water. I’ve been doing this and getting great results. I’ve also found it a good trick when baking. Sometimes, I love baking tofu until it is really dense. Other times, I want the tofu to be softer and the soaking helps a lot. I’ve just added a recipe to my own site for crispy tofu sticks, incorporating the method and I’ve credited you for this tip. Cheers Michael. Your recipes are as inspiring as ever… Emer

  67. Cheri
    December 31, 2012 at 8:06 am #

    Thanks for the tips! I haven’t tried the soaking in hot salted water, but I will now. Just wanted to share where the best tofu I’ve found in Champaign Urbana is — at the Co-Op at Lincoln Square. Buy the kind they package themselves in 4-lb blocks. Cut and freeze what you don’t use right away. The frozen part is great for baked tofu.

    Also wanted to say I talked to a professor of food science who studies soy, and when I remarked that long marinating seemed to hold no edge over short marinating (despite what I always read), she said that there seems to be some component in soy that diminishes other flavor compounds over time, so long marinating really doesn’t help. I have found that frozen sliced tofu, thawed and pressed (briefly, with my hands) absorbs marinade all the way through in no time. I just pour the marinade over and immediately bake it. Yum!

    • December 31, 2012 at 8:12 am #

      Thanks, Cheri! And quite right, if you freeze and thaw tofu it becomes very porous and will absorb the heck out of a marinade. It is a very different texture that has its own charm.

    • dan
      December 31, 2012 at 8:19 am #

      Cheri,

      Your professor is right, I usually marinate pressed tofu for only 15-20 minutes…I notice no difference when I get side tracked and marinate for an hour or more. I use the EZ Tofu Press so I get most of the water out and the marinate seems to infuse rather quickly.

  68. Terry
    January 5, 2013 at 7:25 am #

    Because I’m vegetarian and do a lot of backpacking, I make tofu jerky from the recipe in Lipsmakin’ Vegetarian Backpackin’ by Christine + Tim Conners. It’s a big treat in the wilderness when you’ve been sweating all day + crave something salty, and it’s a great protein source.
    You cut the block of tofu into 1/4″ thick pieces then marinate the tofu in Bragg’s Liquid Amino Soy Seasoning, garlic + ginger. I find the tofu absorbs the marinade well- too well if you leave it for the authors’ recommended 1-2 hours (waaay too salty). I marinate for 45 minutes to get the right amount of flavour + saltiness.
    Put the tofu in your dehydrator + dehydrate till chewy.
    Yum!

  69. Jenny
    January 20, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

    wow! i just made this and almost ate an entire pound of tofu! i can’t tell you how many times i’ve tried to like tofu now i LOVE IT!!! <3 thanks SO much!

  70. Ethyl
    January 29, 2013 at 6:10 am #

    I’m loving the brining method for getting extra-crispy tofu!

    Since we’re sharing where to get excellent, fresh tofu, I wanted to let folks in Upstate New York know to keep an eye out for Ithaca Soy tofu — you can find it at farmer’s markets and some local natural food stores and co-ops. It’s FANTASTIC, so much better than grocery store!

  71. Chistina
    February 8, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

    so awesome! I have been cooking tofu for years and this is the best way yet!!!!!

  72. March 9, 2013 at 2:37 am #

    I’m definitely going to try the hot water and salt method. I make a schezuan pepper and salt mix that I sprinkle on while I’m pan frying tofu and it is delicious. I marinate tofu for three or four hours if I’m going to barbecue it and find it does soak up the flavours.

  73. March 19, 2013 at 5:44 am #

    I was planning on making a stir fry later with tofu I’ll have to try to soaking it in hot water. I noticed you said that marinade doesn’t permeate the tofu. The drier it is the more it will absorb any marinade that its soaking in. i have gotten some freeze-dried tofu before that absorbed quite a bit of sauce. If you know of any fresh tofu makers in the toronto area let me know please.

    • March 19, 2013 at 5:47 am #

      For sure, freezing or freeze-drying tofu makes it very porous so lots of marinade will soak in in that case. It is a very different texture in that case, but it can certainly be appealing.

    • March 24, 2013 at 4:24 am #

      There are many places that sell fresh tofu in the GTA. Ying Ying in the St Lawrence Market. There are other places, too, like Chodang Soon Tofu, but I can’t vouch for them myself.

      link to torontoist.com

  74. Ilene
    April 7, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

    I just made this and although it’s a lot of steps, the tofu is terrific! crispy on the outside and still a bit creamy on the inside.

  75. Tammi
    April 7, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

    After the smoke cleared in my kitchen and well, entire loft and I finally got the fire alarms to stop screaming at me, I’ve come to several conclusions: 1) This blog entry would have been more appropriately titled, “How to Make Tofu Really Freaking Crispy”. The texture? Great. As Ilene states, it’s nice and crispy on the outside but still soft in the inside. 2) They are still bland. I figured they would be flavorful due to the salt soaking in so I didn’t prepare any sauces. Not the case. So either I didn’t use enough salt in the boiling water (about 1 tsp) or you didn’t mean to say “freaking delicious”. 3) I need to find a place with fresh tofu, as you mentioned to see if this would even make a difference. Till then, I continue to marinate and dredge in my flour/nutritional yeast/bread crumb combo and fry/bake as usual. Regardless, thanks for the tip on how to make it crispy! I will look around your site for tasty sauce recipes. Bon apetit!

    • April 7, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

      Thanks for the note, Tammi! I find the well-browned crust to be flavorful, but I do indeed always serve it with sauces. You can find some ideas scrolling through here: link to herbivoracious.com

  76. Lori
    April 16, 2013 at 11:07 am #

    I heard a great tip recently to *broil* extra-firm tofu to get a crispy texture. I needed a way to make fried tofu without deep-frying. It’s my favorite appetizer at Thai restaurants. One of the cooks suggested I try just using my broiler. Broiling has worked out great for me, instead of pan-frying which eliminates some oil and I have a glass-top stove and nonstick pans that make it hard to get right, like Michael explains here at the top. I buy Trader Joe’s extra firm sprouted tofu twin-pack and slice it 3/8″ thick like Michael described , but slice again into little squares or rectangles. I lay the pieces on a lightly oiled -aluminum- baker’s quarter sheet. A little sesame oil across the tops and place under the broiler for 5 mins on each side. They turn out a little curled and dried -but crispy!-, but that is all I was going for. It’s great on salad or with thai chili sauce.

  77. April 18, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

    My family recently did a vegan challenge, and while blogging about it, I told everyone my deepest fear. I was afraid of tofu. It was intimidating. I’m not a novice cook, either. But there was something about tofu that made it the one ingredient I was afraid to tackle.

    I had a few people tell me it wasn’t so bad, I shouldn’t be afraid. Then Tofu Mom gave me the link to this page. After reading your post I felt like I could do that!

    I went to (the right) store and picked up my tofu and followed your instructions to the letter. I added it to my cauliflower and chick pea coconut curry. It was delicious. I love the texture it added and it gave the curry just the depth that was needed.

    Thank you so much!

    • April 18, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

      So glad you liked it! Another tofu lover in the fold :)

  78. constance
    April 21, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

    The new BLACK tofu is quite good and is anti-oxidant rich. I think nasoya is the brad I have seen and tried but it might become trendier and other tofu makers might adopt it. It has a fresh quality.

    • April 21, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

      I haven’t run into that yet; will definitely keep my eyes open!

  79. Linda
    April 23, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

    This was DELICIOUS. I never eat plain, pan-fried tofu, simply because it is so bland. I always use it in recipes where it absorbs other flavors, like in lasagne or salad dressings.

    Now I have an easy way to enjoy tofu without “making something.” My husband said it was good, too, but he didn’t RAVE over it like I did. I will DEFINITELY do this again.

    The hot, salty water is a must, to flavor the tofu. I think the salt also draws water out of the tofu making it firmer. I used Firm (not Extra Firm) tofu, and I could tell a difference in firmness when I took it out of the water to pat it dry.

    The only oil I had besides olive oil was coconut oil. Don’t know about the smoke point, but I know it can take higher heats than olive oil. It DID start smoking about 3/4 of the way through. My kitchen was a smoky mess and I had to open windows and doors, but it was WORTH IT. The tofu was delicious!!!!

    Thank you!! So glad I tried this!

  80. Linda
    April 23, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

    I noticed another poster said the tofu was still bland after soaking with 1 tsp of salt. The directions I read say “well-salted” water. (Maybe the directions were changed at some point). I WELL-salted my water. I didn’t even measure, but dumped in some Celtic salt (maybe a couple TBS or more???), and my tofu needed NOTHING else to be absolutely fantastic.

  81. Brixe
    May 1, 2013 at 11:59 pm #

    In Berlin / Germany: The huge Asian supermarket at the Trainstation Hackescher Markt has fresh Tofu every day – and it’s delicious!

  82. bevedawn
    May 5, 2013 at 7:43 pm #

    it tast like fried eggs

    • Margo
      September 5, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

      Yeah, it does taste a little like eggs!

  83. Meah2O
    May 20, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

    I live in Houston. There are lots of Asian supermarkets and restaurants – but does anyone have a specific ecommendation for where I would find fresh tofu?

  84. Lili
    May 24, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

    This was my first time making tofu and I followed your instructions to the letter! The color was exactly like in your picture and you were right, it stays really creamy on the inside and is so beautifully golden brown on the outside. We made it with a stir fry type of sauce with soy sauce, green beans cooked in the oven then briefly fried, roasted orange pepper, mushrooms and a little ginger. Delicious!

  85. Andrea
    June 16, 2013 at 4:03 pm #

    My favorite way to prep tofu is to simply brush it with a little sesame oil & soy sauce and then bake it for about 20 minutes @ 350, turning it half way through. No need to dry it since it’s being baked instead of fried. Soooo easy!

    I’m looking forward to trying the “soak in salted water method” as an alternative to using soy sauce. Thanks for the idea!

  86. Janet
    July 15, 2013 at 4:27 am #

    The first time I had tofu, I’m sure it wasn’t cooked the right way….not good! Recently though, a friend made some for me, and it was very tasty. I want to try this recipe, and have noted some sauces etc mentioned here that I want to try. Asian is one type of food that I really have little experience making, but I love it so much! I would love to see more recipes using tofu!

  87. lilly
    July 23, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

    link to yelp.com
    Thanh Son Tofu sells fresh tofu and soy milk in Seattle , sometimes it is still warm when you get it.

  88. Phoebe
    July 26, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

    I pan fried medium firm sliced tofu dusted with cornstarch, then quick braised in a fresh tomato sauce (chopped onion & diced peeled tomatoes) with great result, not bland at all.

  89. Margo
    September 5, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

    Yup. You nailed it. Crispy, crunchy on the outside. Creamy inside. Heaven!

  90. October 7, 2013 at 9:13 am #

    I buy a marinated tofu that is dense in texture (similar to small picture of the cut tofu).

    I do lots of inventive dishes but one I would like to share that I have created is a take on

    japanese tastes that I love. Very simple.

    SESAME FRIED TOFU and HIZIKI

    (Actually, I don’t do any patting dry to be honest :-( and it turns out perfect)

    I begin by using sesame oil, such a wonderful nutty taste to the tofu. Fry the tofu so that it

    comes out golden brown on each side. Set aside.

    I slice and fry Shitake mushroom also in sesame oil (not too much). Set aside.

    Hiziki, a japanese seaweed is prepared by first soaking in water until double in size, preferably over night. But an hour will do.

    In olive oil, (quite plentiful) fry fresh garlic cloves (depending on the amount of Hiziki being prepared, the amount of garlic added depends on taste, at least 1 – 2 medium cloves. . Hiziki should be simmered at a low temperature so as not to burn. The idea is to let each strand of seaweed be caressed by the olive oil. When this has been done approximately 10 – 15 minutes. Shoyu soya is added and the Hiziki is simmered at low heat for at least 30 minutes. Until the Shoyu soya has soaked into the seaweed.

    Delicious warm or room temperature

    Serving, as desired. On its own! With or without bread.
    On a piece of sour dough bread alternatively hard Swedish bread place the tofu first, secondly place Shitake, top with Hiziki …. and finally top with finely chopped parsley. Absolutlely DELICIOUS!

    I eat this for breakfast!

  91. October 13, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

    For years I followed the standard method of pressing, but after travels around various Asian countries I found that to be a very Western practise. I also noticed many people commenting on the amazing texture of tofu in Thai restaurants, one they could not recreate at home. Once I figured out the trick, I realised that’s no surprise since it was (and is still) a method virtually unheard of outside of Asian communities.

    Great blog, by the way. It’s very well presented and quite clear you put a lot of thought and work into each post!

  92. Ashley
    October 16, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

    This turned out perfectly, the kids and I loved it. Thank you so much for the clear instructions!

  93. Gloucesterina
    October 29, 2013 at 8:30 pm #

    Andrea Nguyen’s brine soaking suggestion worked brilliantly for me – no scary spattering in the pan, and a beautiful firm-crisp golden crust! I look forward to trying the pre-cooking in the microwave.

  94. Erin
    October 31, 2013 at 8:43 pm #

    I often marinate tofu, with great, saturated results. After cutting up the tofu, I press out the liquid, or leave it under a weight with towels. Then on low I Slowly draw out more liquid in a frying pan, making sure not to actually cook the tofu. After that I marinate it anywhere from an hour to over night, then it’s good to bake or bbq or fry.

    Makes great tofu “steaks”

  95. December 16, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    Thank you SO MUCH for the tofu tips! The first time I made this successfully, using this method, I was dancing around my kitchen. I used to dread having to fry tofu, but I’m making it again tonight and can’t wait! :-)

  96. yss
    January 13, 2014 at 6:18 am #

    What I found was really good & I used to hate tofu is :
    French Onion Pie – The Vegan Table: 200 Unforgettable Recipes for Entertaining Every Guest at Every Occasion by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
    (p. 128)
    you can preview the recipe on Google Books,its also on a blog online somewhere

  97. yss
    January 13, 2014 at 6:21 am #

    the best part is that the recipe can be made oil free by sauteing the onions in water

  98. yss
    January 13, 2014 at 6:44 am #

    Sorry for making so many comments I Think its worth mentioning that Tofu that is prepared with calcium sulfate will contain more calcium than tofu made with nigari,check ingredient label for more info.

  99. Allana
    February 4, 2014 at 2:14 am #

    Thanks for the tips! I go to a Cambodian restaurant in Newmarket, Ontario for their vegetarian tofu soup. I don’t know how they do it, but their tofu cubes are puffy and crispy! Absolutely delicious! I’ve tried to fry it, but it just isn’t the same! And smile and tell me “we just fry it” haha, I literally crave this soup! Any idea’s to get puffy crispy tofu? And, just a heads up, I’m still kinda new to the whole tofu world! And to say the least, my tofu isn’t that great “yet”! :)

    • February 4, 2014 at 6:43 am #

      I haven’t tried it, but I believe that texture might be achieved by freezing extra firm tofu, then thawing it, and then deep frying it. If you give it a go, let me know.

  100. Phoebe Jones
    February 4, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

    Asian has many way to treat tofu, what is important is cooking/eating tofu as ‘tofu’, not a substitute of something else. Here is the question: is the tofu puff in the soup actually crispy? how can anything still be crispy after being in the soup? if your tofu is only puffy but crispy is only in appearance, I can offer a suggestion. In cities like Toronto & Vancouver (in Canada) with huge Chinese markets, they sell tofu in dozens forms. One form is simply called tofu puff, which was deep-fried, with almost all skin with very little inside. Cut up/diced/sliced and braised in soup will provide the texture of meat. Could that be what you are looking for?
    Deep fry soft tofu in high temperature briefly will give you a crispy exterior and silky interior, Sprinkle seasoning of your choice, enjoy the best cheap snack.

  101. wle
    February 11, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

    atlanta location for fresh tofu:
    buford highway farmers market

    the best FRIED tofu ever, made every day fresh:
    VN tofu, 2 locations
    buford highway
    jimmy carter blvd
    DIRT CHEAP
    $1 for a HUGE block, at least 24oz
    1.50 for flavors
    lemongrass/chili
    mushroom/beef
    some others

    wle

  102. DD
    February 12, 2014 at 11:37 am #

    Hello! Thank you for the tofu ideas. But would you happen to know why my tofu doesn’t get all nice and spongy when I freeze it? I’ve had it like this in restaurants, and I’ve read hundreds of times on the Internet that one should freeze tofu to make it spongy. But whenever I try this, the defrosted tofu has exactly the same texture as it had before freezing. Does it need to be frozen for some minimum amount of time in order to become spongy?

    • February 12, 2014 at 11:41 am #

      Are you using firm or extra firm? I’ve definitely gotten spongy results doing that. Just freezing overnight, then thawing out the next day and gently expressing the water.

  103. DD
    February 12, 2014 at 11:47 am #

    Many thanks for the quick response! I always use firm or extra firm tofu. After freezing I thaw and express the liquid just as you say. Hmmm…..maybe I just have such a great freezer that the ice crystals don’t form properly…? Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to enjoy my tofu unspongy. :-) Thanks anyway!

  104. Phoebe Jones
    February 12, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

    When boil/simmer tofu for a long time (1/2 hour and up) in water/soup stock, will turn spongy as well if your freezer fails to freeze it solid.

  105. Oops
    February 24, 2014 at 7:27 pm #

    Side Note: Don’t let the cast iron skillet heat for too long or the oil will immediately start a fire upon contact…Not that that happened to me or anything….

  106. March 10, 2014 at 10:18 am #

    THANK YOU – can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to get crispy tofu and been rewarded with a smoky kitchen and rubbery tofu. That soak really works and they cook up so quickly.

  107. Tammy
    April 6, 2014 at 6:41 am #

    I’m a little confused. It says “How to make tofu really frickin delicious”. The only thing used is brine water. No spices, no nothing. Am I the only seeing that all you do is fry it plain and it will be the best tofu ever….In order to make something better is how you spice it up and cook it..

    • April 6, 2014 at 7:22 am #

      This post shows you how to make the tofu *itself* have a delicious, crispy, Maillardized crust. Good tofu itself has a mild, sweet soy flavor in the interior that tastes great with this crust. And then, yes, absolutely, you’ll want to use this as a component in a dish with a wider set of flavors. I’ve got lots of ideas for you, just keep scrolling.

  108. Debbie
    April 6, 2014 at 10:43 pm #

    What are some good dipping sauces for crispy tofu?

    • April 7, 2014 at 6:39 am #

      I tend to use fried tofu more in Southeast Asian curries and stir-fries than for dipping, but that can be good too. Here are a couple of ideas for sauces that can be used for dipping though: link to herbivoracious.com, link to herbivoracious.com . Also, a mixture to taste of soy sauce, chili paste, mirin or rice vinegar, and sesame oil is always good.

  109. Amanda
    April 19, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    I just made this tonight – amazing! I’ve never been able to get a good crust until now – thank you!

  110. Maria
    April 24, 2014 at 8:01 am #

    Followed this method last night and it was a marked improvement. So much so that my husband, who didn’t know I was trying something different, remarked: “What did you do the tofu?! It’s so much better!” And this from a die-hard carnivore who just went veggie two months ago. Thank you!

  111. annabeth
    June 12, 2014 at 8:35 am #

    When i put my stove on any more than low heat the tofu started to pop out of the pan. Anyone else have this experience?

    • June 12, 2014 at 8:48 am #

      The only reason I can imagine it popping out of the pan is if you have a lot of moisture causing steam bubbles. Be sure and dry the tofu very thoroughly and let us know if that helps.

  112. Cathy
    July 27, 2014 at 6:17 pm #

    This made any absolutely delish cripy fried tofu! And adding the sauce at the end (rather than marinating) made it oh so yummy! I don’t think I’ll be making tofu any other way moving forward lol

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