Tofu is best known in Canada for its use in curries and stir-fries but this extremely versatile ingredient has an impressive range of uses including everything from grilling to super creamy desserts. Tofu is mostly sold under three main levels of firmness, each with their own specific use.
Soft or silken tofu has a texture similar to custard and is best used for creamy desserts, salad dressing, smoothies, and dips.
Medium tofu can hold its shape when cut and it has a denser texture although it is still fairly creamy. Use medium tofu in soups and chilled noodle and Asian-inspired salads.
Firm tofu is the tofu many Canadians are familiar with. Dense with a pleasantly chewy texture, firm tofu is best used for stir-frying, curries, grilling, and scrambles.
Make a tofu scramble
Scrambled tofu is a tasty vegan alternative to your eggs that doesn’t sacrifice flavour or texture. Crumble tofu into scrambled egg-sized pieces and sauté in a small amount of olive or vegetable oil, letting the tofu get crispy in parts by only stirring occasionally. Add some or all of the following to the hot pan and scramble into the tofu:
- Red onions
- Bell peppers
- Spinach or kale
- Turmeric (which gives the scrambled tofu a sunny yellow colour)
- Smoked paprika
- Nooch (nutritional yeast)
Serve scrambled tofu with salsa and toast (vegan breakfast sausages are optional).
Medium to extra firm tofu makes an ideal neutral base for all kinds of marinades and sauces. For optimal absorption press the tofu between two plates or cutting boards lined with paper towel for 20 minutes, using two or three cans for extra weight. Once the tofu has been drained of excess water it’s ready to be cut into slabs and marinated. Experiment with bold flavours such as:
- Peanut satay sauce (homemade or store bought)
- Soy sauce, fresh ginger, and sesame oil
- Gochujang and thinly sliced scallions
- Chili sauce and sesame seeds
- Coconut milk and green or red curry paste
Tofu can handle a long marinade time so go ahead and let it sit for 24 hours if you’d like (and on the opposite end of the spectrum, tofu will also have a great taste if it’s only been in the marinade 15 minutes). Grill, sear, bake or slowly braise the tofu for best results.
Grilling tofu gives it a fantastic smoky flavour as well as picture-perfect grill marks. Use firm or extra firm tofu that has been pressed to remove extra moisture for easier handling and to prevent breakage while grilling. Use a light marinade when grilling and stay away from overly sweet ingredients as they’re more likely to burn prematurely. Lighter marinades that work well include:
- Soy sauce, lime and cilantro
- Coconut milk, curry powder, and thinly sliced lemongrass
- Olive oil mixed with finely minced garlic, fresh parsley, and basil
- Dijon mustard, lemon juice, and a small squeeze of honey
To prevent tofu from sticking brush the grill with a small amount of vegetable oil before grilling. Serve grilled tofu with a big green salad, corn on the cob, over rice or quinoa or tucked into pita pockets.