Guest Author - Jason Hodge
Tofu is an amazingly versatile food product. It's somewhat of a chameleon of the vegetarian world; but for some reason many of the places I've been seem to be only offering the same flavors and textures. From the scrambled egg, gelatinous or custard-like texture with very little flavor to the the fried, spongy texture wherein the surface has gleaned a hint of the circulating flavors of the dish it's applied to and the insides remain as bland as the unseasoned whites of a fried egg, tofu in mainstream living has not been brought to its potential. Today we'll discuss five of the many ways to pre-prep your tofu to make your end results pleasurable.
Today's Methods include: Freeze & Thaw; Frozen Marinade; Re-batch / Hand-mill; Layering; & Post-Marinade.
Freeze & Thaw Method:
This method is the simplest of all. All you need is your tofu and a freezer. Directly after purchasing your tofu place it into your freezer and freeze until solid and when you're ready for it thaw it out [usually in the fridge for 2-3 days or under running water until completely thawed], squeeze out all excess liquid, which makes room for the seasonings you impose to be absorbed and crumble into just slightly larger than your desired sizes. This allows for the slight shrinkage as it cooks down.
Frozen Marinade Method:
There are three directions you can approach this method from: The Drain & Marinade Method; Drain & Dice Method; and Drain & Crumble Method.
* Drain & Marinade Method: Drain the excess liquids from your tofu and in a new container cover your tofu with your marinading liquid or sauce and freeze. This will impart a bit more than a hint of the flavor from the marinade to your tofu. It's great when you want to take just the edge off of your tofu and giving it some character as a foundation.
* Drain & Dice Method: Drain the excess liquids from your tofu and in a new container cover your tofu with your marinating liquid or sauce and freeze. This will impart even more character, flavor and texture to your tofu than the Drain & Marinade Method.
* Drain & Crumble Method: Drain the excess liquids from your tofu an in a new container add enough marinade to cover the bottom of the container by 1/2" [inch] and crumble the tofu into the container adding more marinade to completely cover tofu. Agitate and freeze. This will give the most texture, flavor and organic look and feel in your end product.
Re-batch / Hand-mill Method:
Take your tofu out of its original package, place into a food processor and process until smooth and mix in your desired seasonings [without the salt] place in a cheesecloth lined strainer with enough cheesecloth to gather the ends together and tie closed and twist together to gently squeeze out excess liquid and to set re-batched tofu into your desired form. Place in refrigerator, in cheesecloth, elevated in a covered container until set and ready to use [usually 1 day].
Take your tofu out of its original package and slice thick or thin. Take your desired seasonings and layer by dusting each layer with your seasonings and put back together in the refrigerator in a new container under a weight. This imparts great flavor without altering the texture of the tofu as in freezing.
Take the tofu that you've cooked and toss it with your desired sauce and seasonings and let sit in the refrigerator for a few days. Use it in your dishes requiring that flavorful meaty texture.
As you use these pre-prep methods a whole new dimension will open up to you in your healthy, fast and gourmet cooking experiences. You'll discover more flavor and ease of use and a definite increase in the quality of your end results. Tofu is only as amazing as you make it.
For more tips and information get yourself a copy of my Vegetarian Resource Newsletter. You'll be happy you did!
As always... It's been great sharing with you. Until next time... Bye for now.