Tofu Braising Method - How To Braise Tofu

Tofu Braising Method - How To Braise Tofu
There are many tofu braising methods and ‘how tos’ on how to braise tofu. In this article you will learn:

What tofu is
How it’s used
How to infuse maximum flavor by braising

I’ve worked with tofu for well over 20 years. I’ve had my moments when I’ve wanted to eat nothing but tofu and times when I’ve 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 you’ll like the results.

Tofu is something that’s shrouded in mystery. Many look at that pale rectangular block and a huge question mark appears on their faces. I think mainly because they’ve tasted the tofus out there and have been sorely disappointed or they only know how to work with it in one form. Cubes! Personally, I’m 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 let’s 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 ‘milk’ 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. doesn’t 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 it’s 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 don’t mind. Here’s a list of how I’ve used tofu over the years:
  • Italian-Style Sausage
    Scrambled ‘Eggs’
    Stir Fry
    Vegetarian Ribs
    Dairy-Free Ice Cream
    Pot Pies
    Meatless Stews
    Meatless Balls

How to infuse maximum flavor by braising
When you’re braising tofu you always want to prep it first to develop the texture and nuances to fit your desired dish. If you’re 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 I’m creating my braising liquids. Keep in mind this is only if I don’t 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. We’ll have to explore that down the line. It’s way more time consuming, but trust me... it’s well worth it!

Here’s what you’re 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 don’t 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; it’ll come up to about its halfway mark.]

You’re good to go!

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

As always, it’s been my pleasure sharing these techniques with you. Until next time...

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You Should Also Read:
Getting your tofu ready for your cooking process

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