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Tofu Braising Method - How To Braise Tofu

There are many tofu braising methods and Ďhow tosí on how to braise tofu. In this article you will learn:

What tofu is
How itís used
How to infuse maximum flavor by braising

Iíve worked with tofu for well over 20 years. Iíve had my moments when Iíve wanted to eat nothing but tofu and times when Iíve avoided it like the plague. I do that with most things I enjoy. It kind of resets my palate and appreciation for an ingredient. Try it out... I think youíll like the results.

Tofu is something thatís shrouded in mystery. Many look at that pale rectangular block and a huge question mark appears on their faces. I think mainly because theyíve tasted the tofus out there and have been sorely disappointed or they only know how to work with it in one form. Cubes! Personally, Iím not into many geometric shapes in my food. I like my dishes to look somewhat familiar and not like they were left over from the last pyramid construction project. So letís take a look at our three points.

What is tofu
Tofu is quite literally bean curd; but, what in the world does that mean?! Well, bean curd is similar to the curds that are made from milk in the cheese making process. The only differences are the foundational ingredients, the processing and the curing/ageing. Whereas cheese is traditionally made from milk [usually dairy: cow, goat, sheep, etc.], tofu is made from the Ďmilkí of the soybean. The soybean is soaked, ground, cooked, strained, curdled, separated from its whey and pressed/strained into a form or block for later use. The addition of enzymes/fermenters, aging, etc. doesnít play a role in traditional tofu processing. Tofu is packed full of protein, extremely versatile, a bit controversial, at times, and has many textures and uses from everything from your savory dishes to your sweet desserts.

For those put on restrictive diets where they have to remove meats from their lifestyles, tofu has become a welcomed alternative.

How itís used
Tofu can be used to mimic meat, eggs, poultry, in pretty much every way texture as well as flavor. Some of the uses are a little more labor intensive than others, but when you get your desired results, you really donít mind. Hereís a list of how Iíve used tofu over the years:

How to infuse maximum flavor by braising
When youíre braising tofu you always want to prep it first to develop the texture and nuances to fit your desired dish. If youíre making a succulent beefy-style braised tofu dish, you have to first develop that beefy texture before finishing off with your braising. I wrote an article about getting your tofu ready for your cooking process in the link below.

Braising your tofu is nothing more than simmering your tofu down in just enough liquid/sauce with, hopefully, other flavor and textural components to impart the maximum amounts of flavor and contrast. Things like onion, garlic, tomato, pre-roasted carrots, turnips, peppers, fresh herbs and spices... you get the picture.

Personally, I like to use stocks/juices when Iím creating my braising liquids. Keep in mind this is only if I donít get enough liquid out of my base ingredients. I go with stocks instead of water, mainly because it adds more depth to the flavor profile whereas water tends to dilute.

I love bold flavor.

Braising is a simple technique with many sub-methods like: long-braising & short -braising and can be done with pretty much any of your favorite sauces, gravies, liquids... You can even use double and triple braising methods to really drive home the complementary themes in your tofu dishes. Weíll have to explore that down the line. Itís way more time consuming, but trust me... itís well worth it!

Hereís what youíre gonna do...

Season, and cook your tofu to your desired texture then put it aside. Make up your favorite sauce/gravy/partial reduction and slightly thin it out and add your choice of fresh herbs, spices, roots, fruits, veggies and or nuts/seeds and simmer. [This will prevent the braising liquid from becoming too intense as it reduces in volume. You want to make sure when you simmer them down and evaporate some of their liquid they donít become too salty, sweet, pungent, etc. and ruin your tofu. This can easily happen.] Add your tofu to the simmering pot and simmer for a minimum of 30 minutes up to 2 1/2+ hours depending on what else is in your pot needing the tenderization of time and gentle, constant heat. [Note: Your braising liquid will not completely cover your tofu; itíll come up to about its halfway mark.]

Youíre good to go!

Now for the big question: What do you want your tofu to taste like?

As always, itís been my pleasure sharing these techniques with you. Until next time...

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