April 09, 2021
For all the years I've been cooking with tofu I've always been disappointed that I could never get that crunchy, chewy texture that restaurants seemed to have a monopoly on. I tried baking, frying in oil, breading...I seriously tried everything I could think of and never got the result I was looking for until I tried freezing the tofu.
The trick to getting a great consistency from tofu is to get as much water out as possible, if you don't get the water out it stays squishy and won't take any type of marinade. In the past I have simply pressed the tofu for an hour or so until I thought I had gotten out as much moisture as I could. It was a good but not great solution.
This week I decided to try freezing the tofu since I had heard it was a much better method of removing any water. I popped open the package and drained off as much water as I could, after that I sealed the tofu in an air tight container and left it in the freezer overnight. The next morning when I removed the tofu from the freezer I thought I had done something wrong. What came out of the container was a gross, frozen, yellow block of something that didn't look very appetizing. I was already halfway through so I had no choice but to finish what I had started. I let the tofu thaw all day on a cookie rack so the ice could melt without getting the tofu wet again. Once the tofu had thawed totally I finally got to take a good look at it's new consistency. What was once a solid block of mush now looked like a fluffy sponge, their were a million air pockets where the water had frozen.
I decided the best thing to try with my block of swiss cheese looking tofu was a sandwich. You can mask the consistency of tofu in a lot of dishes, a squishy sandwich is a squishy sandwich and there is nothing you can do to hide it. In a bowl I mixed together 3 tablespoons of corn starch, two teaspoons of smoked paprika, a teaspoon of a white pepper and garlic mixture and a couple pinches of Himalayan salt. Powdered ingredients stick very well to tofu so I didn't need to dip the slices in anything before putting them in the breading mixture.
To fry the tofu I used a toasted sesame infused olive oil but any oil would do I'm sure. I cooked the slices on medium heat until they were nice and crispy and them flipped them over, it took about 5 minutes per side to get the right texture. Once the tofu was done cooking I tossed it on some wholegrain bread and topped it with vegan mayo, avocado, green leaf lettuce and a couple of slices of ripe tomato. What I ended up with was one of the best tofu sandwiches I had ever had! Slightly crispy on the on the outside, chewy and tender on the inside.
After a decade of trying and failing I think I have finally figure out how to make decent tofu. I feel a bit silly now that I know I had the answer in front of me the whole time, live and learn I guess.
Have any of you tried freezing your tofu? Do you have any other tips on how to make a great tofu dish? Give us a shout, we would love to hear what your secrets are.
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