How to press tofu

Find out when and how to press tofu and why it’s important for certain dishes. Once you've mastered the basic technique, try our favourite tofu recipes.
 

Tofu with green veg on plate

Tofu, also referred to as bean curd or soya bean curd is often used in vegetarian dishes as it’s a good source of meat-free protein. Learn more about the health benefits of tofu and even more key nutritional highlights.  

Pressing is a technique used to remove some of the moisture and make it easier to cook with. In some recipes, if the tofu is too wet, it can break up during cooking, which may not be what you wanted. Once you've mastered the technique of pressing tofu, try our best ever tofu recipes for tasty dinners you prepare in a flash. 

How long does it take to press tofu? 

It takes around half an hour to press the tofu in preparation for cooking. It’s simple to do and requires very little effort. You only need a plate, some absorbent fabric or paper, such as clean tea-towels or kitchen paper, and a weight – we often use a frying pan. 

Do you need to press tofu?

Pressing can be important but it depends on the recipe. It can make a lot of difference, particularly where the tofu is being pan-fried or baked and you want the slices or pieces of tofu to hold their shape. This is because the excess liquid can make the tofu quite delicate and could cause it to break up when you move it – turning your nice neat pieces into a lumpy, soggy mess. Pressing will improve the texture of the tofu, making it more robust and satisfying. It may also improve the absorption of flavour such as seasonings and marinades. 

Does all tofu need pressing?

Types of tofu
Some brands of firm tofu, particularly smoked or flavoured ones that are vacuum packed, may not need pressing. If you’re not sure, dab the surface with a clean tea towel and see if it picks up moisture. If it’s dry then it’s fine to use without pressing. 

Pressing won’t work with any type of silken tofu as silken tofu is too soft and the process will crush it completely. Silken tofu is best used in dishes where it is lightly cooked or blended, like in our vegan mayonnaise.

For any recipes where firm tofu is sliced or cut into cubes, you should press it to get the best from it. Most recipes will tell you to do this at the start. If the recipe uses silken tofu like this recipe for tofu brekkie pancakes, or the tofu doesn’t need to be in defined pieces, such as this tofu scramble, then you won’t need to press it first. 

How to press tofu

Tofu with brown rice and spring onions on plate
You will need

  • 400g tofu 
  1. Wrap the block of tofu in a clean tea towel then put it on a large plate with a lip. 
  2. Put something heavy such as a frying pan on top, weight it down further with cans and jars, and leave for 30 mins. 
  3. The tofu will be about two-thirds its original thickness, and up to 100ml water will have been removed. 
  4. You can do this the day before you’re going to use it, then keep the tofu in an airtight container in the fridge.

Top 5 tofu recipes

1. Spice crusted tofu with kumquat and radish salad

Spiced tofu with green salad on plate
The pressed tofu is coated in Japanese spice mix and served with a colourful and flavour-packed kumquat and green vegetable salad.
 

2. Tofu steaks

Tofu steaks with noodle salad on plate
After pressing, this tofu is cooked in a rich miso and soy marinade giving it an intense savoury flavour.  
 

3. Salt & pepper tofu

Tofu with vegetables on plate
Use both black and Sichuan peppercorns in our salt & pepper tofu for a tongue-tingling kick and a spicy warmth. Plus the cornflour gives the tofu a light crisp coating.
 

4. Tofu fritters

Fritters with dipping sauce in bowl
Serve these Burmese-inspired fritters with a garlic dipping sauce as a starter, canapé or simple snack. They're crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.
 

5. Tofu escalopes 

Tofu escalopes with salad on plate
Pressed tofu makes a delicious vegetarian alternative to chicken Milanese, with a crisp mustard and vegetarian parmesan breadcrumb coating.
 

Enjoyed these suggestions? Check out our other cookery tips...

Tofu recipes - 7 new serving ideas
How to make seitan
The best sources of protein for vegetarians
Video: how to cook tofu

What's your favourite way to serve tofu? Leae a comment below...

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