Tofu is a versatile ingredient often used in vegetarian and vegan cooking. It can be blended into smoothies, fried and served in salads and stir-fries or even turned into chunky veggie steaks. It is made by curdling fresh soya milk, pressing it into a solid block, then cooling it – in much the same way that traditional dairy cheese is made by curdling and solidifying milk. The liquid (whey) is discarded, and the curds are pressed to form a cohesive bond. A staple ingredient in Thai and Chinese cookery, it can be cooked in different ways to change its texture from smooth and soft to crisp and crunchy.
Types of tofu
These include silken tofu, firm tofu and marinated tofu:
Silken tofu contains lots of moisture so is perfect for recipes which require it to be blended, such as adding to smoothies or in this recipe for tofu brekkie pancakes where it is used as a substitute for eggs.
Firm tofu is a lot drier making it a good alternative to meat as it holds together much better. If shallow frying, wrap it in kitchen paper first, then place a weight on top such as a saucepan in order to squeeze out excess moisture. Coat it in your favourite spices, curry pastes, or marinades before frying. Try this technique with our spice-crusted tofu with kumquat salad recipe.
Marinated tofu has already been flavoured – try it in the following smoked tofu sandwich recipe:
How to cook tofu
- Fry 100g sliced smoked tofu for 2-3 mins each side in olive oil in a non-stick pan until lightly golden (tofu can also be eaten uncooked).
- To make the sandwich in the video above, fill a toasted bagel with 1 tbsp leftover mashed butternut squash and 1-2 baby gem lettuce leaves, then top with griddled slices of 1 baby courgette, 2 tsp tahini (mixed with enough water to create a smooth sauce), 1 tsp toasted pumpkin seeds, the fried tofu slices and 1 tsp aubergine pickle and serve.
Top tofu recipes
1. Satay tofu skewers
Serve up a summery treat with our satay tofu skewers with garlic & ginger pak choi. You can throw together this healthy vegan dish in just 25 minutes. They’re packed with flavour and ideal for a simple barbecue spread.
2. Next level pad Thai
Add crispy tofu, prawns, pickled turnip and tamarind to take this classic dish up a notch. Our next level pad Thai makes a decadent dinner for two, but it’s really simple to make. Spend just 10 minutes cooking up this delicious dish and serve with pride.
3. Tofu scramble
Switch up your standard breakfast fare with our tofu scramble. Add some curry spices, sweet cherry tomatoes and whip up this healthy plateful for two. If you’re looking for something egg-free or a simple vegan breakkie idea, give this super scramble a go.
4. Burmese tofu fritters (tohu jaw)
Serve up our Burmese-inspired tofu fritters with an addictive garlic dipping sauce for a simple starter or a tasty snack. They’re everything we want from a canapé – soft and fluffy on the inside, crispy and golden brown on the outside.
5. Smoked tofu vegan burger
Our smoked tofu vegan burger packs a punch. It takes a little more effort, but it’s well worth it. The crunchy veg slaw and spicy mayo is the perfect accompaniment to this brilliant burger. Come barbecue season, this terrific tofu creation will be top of our recipe list.
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