How To: Cook Tofu

A plate of gorgeously brown simple seared tofu cubes

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There are so many nights where we’re extra hungry and I want to add something more to the meal. When that happens, I usually turn to this simple seared Tofu which never fails me. It is crispy on the outside while remaining creamy on the inside. My favorite way to enjoy it is simply – with rice, steam/sautéed veggies, and a ton of toppings like soy sauce, sesame oil, cilantro, scallions, and chili crisp.

Moisture is the enemy of crispness

Pressing the water out of the tofu is a critical first step when you cook tofu. Moisture is the enemy of crispness! For many, many years I placed the tofu on a paper-towel lined plate, covered it with another paper towel, and then put something heavy on top like a pot with a couple cans inside it. It worked well enough, but several times I heard a crashing noise and returned to the kitchen to find the pot and cans on the kitchen floor. I also wanted to stop using paper towels!

Invest in a tofu press

Once I found myself eating tofu several times a week, I decided to invest in a good tofu press. While this one is on the pricier side (about $40), it is by far the best I have ever used.  Removing 1/2 cup of water from a block of tofu in less than 10 minutes, this press is tofu’s BFF. It’s efficacy ensures that tofu gets crispy on the outside while remaining creamy on the inside. I am obsessed with my Tofu Xpress and would venture to say it is one of my most beloved kitchen gadgets.

High heat to avoid sticking when you cook tofu

Many people I have spoken want to love tofu but struggle with it sticking to the pan. The most likely culprit for this unfortunate situation is that the pan and oil are not hot enough when to tofu are added. Your pan should have wisps of smoke rising from it before you add the tofu. If you are, like me, a little impatient and your tofu does stick to the pan – let it cook longer, it will eventually release once all the moisture evaporates.

A plate of crispy brown seared tofu cubes

How To: Cook Tofu

Yield: 4 people

Recipe Notes

If you can find Chinese rice wine, use it in place of the sherry. We prefer cream or sweet sherry—the extra sweetness helps with browning— but if you only have dry sherry, it works too.

Ingredients

  • 1 block (14-16 oz) firm or extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into medium-large cubes (see photo)
  • 1 tablespoon each: soy sauce and sherry (cream, sweet, or dry) or Chinese rice wine
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil (such as canola or grapeseed)

Instructions

  • Toss tofu cubes with soy and sherry. Let marinate as time allows, 10 minutes up to overnight. When ready to cook, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; drain tofu, pat dry, and toss with oil. When wisps of smoke start to rise from the pan, add tofu and cook, turning only once, until impressively brown on 2 sides, 7 to 8 minutes total.

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