08 May 2010

How to Cook Tofu

















I know that many of my regular readers will be expert at cooking with tofu, but for me it is quite a new experience, so I thought I would document my efforts as I go.

Tofu is something I have avoided like the plague for years. I think I may have had it once and disliked it so much I decided it just wasn't for me. So what has made me change my mind, I hear you ask? Cooper, my baby. Still puzzled? It will soon make sense.

Cooper is now 18 weeks old, which means we will soon be starting on the whole weaning process. The Department of Health recommend breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months. This is not a hard and fast rule and this baby of ours is growing fast as well as watching every bite we eat. I think he may be ready before the 6 month mark.

In anticipation of the big event, I purchased Top 100 Baby Purees by Annabel Karmel, who is a bit of a legend when it comes to advice on feeding children.

So, I was toodling through the book very happily, enjoying all the recipes and colourful pictures (it is a recipe book after all), when I came to the section on introducing protein.

This baby of ours is going to be a vegetarian baby and so the recommended protein to introduce to his diet is tofu, which is high iron, potassium and calcium. Apparently babies are born with an store of iron that lasts approximately 6 months, after which the baby needs iron introduced into his diet. Between 6 months and 2 years is a vital time for brain development, so iron-rich food are very important.

Thinking it would be a bit hypocritical to introduce tofu to Cooper's diet when we avoid it like the plague, I decided to start sampling tofu when I was eating out. My first try was on my birthday, when we enjoyed a meal with friends at the Metro Brasserie in Dundee, one of our favourite places to eat. Graham and I both chose the Soba Noodles with Teriyaki Stir-Fry & Spiced Tofu. It was delicious, but Graham didn't enjoy the tofu and I thought it might have been better. I think the reason for this, was it was soft and a bit bland.

My second attempt on my quest to enjoy tofu, was one late night, when we were starving and the thought of cooking just didn't appeal. We took, a very rare trip to a local Chinese take-away and there on the menu I spotted dishes with tofu. Aha! I jiggled the menu around a bit and ordered sweet and sour vegetables with tofu and rice and it was just the ticket. Mmmmmmmmm! Gorgeous. This is exactly what I wanted from my tofu. Flavoursome and slightly chewy, much more appealing.

A visit to Matthew's Foods, (the oriental supermarket) later and I had all I needed for a Teriyaki Vegetable Stir-Fry with Tofu and Noodles.

I did a bit of research online to see how other people were cooking their tofu and came up with this technique and marinade.

Cooking Tofu

1. Open your packet of tofu and drain away any excess liquid.

2. Slice the tofu into strips and then cut into triangles.

3. Place the triangles onto a clean, dry tea towel and gently squeeze out the moisture.

4. Fry the tofu in a dry pan until each side is golden brown.

5. Soak in a marinade for a few hours.

6. Add to stir-fry along with your choice of vegetables and sauce.

7. Enjoy.

Teriyaki Marinade

1 clove garlic, minced
2 cm piece fresh ginger, finely grated
2 tbsp brown sugar
½ cup teriyaki sauce
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup apple juice


Mix all the ingredients together and leave to rest for half an hour before adding the tofu. Leave the dry-fried tofu in the marinade for a few hours. You may use the tofu after half an hour, but it won't have as much flavour as it would if left to soak longer.

I then use this marinade as a dressing for my stir-fry and noodles. Very tasty.

30 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. Have you tried baking it? It's lovely. I love the stuff in any form though. :) Shall post the recipe soon.

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  3. Well done, Jac, good for you for trying something you thought you'd maybe hate. It's true - it's a lost cause to try and make a kid eat something Mama and Daddy won't! Eventually, you'll get brave enough to do seared tofu "steaks" and eat them in a sandwich smothered with avocado and Gouda, or mash up soft tofu with raw eggs and scramble them with a bit of cheese and peppers -- but starting with an Asian-type treatment is where most people start. You're so creative, I look forward to seeing what else you do with it.

    I'm laughing at the thought of Cooper lusting after your meals. He's a foodie's baby, all right!

    Glad you guys are all so happy.

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  4. I haven't tried that yet Wendy, but I will look out for your recipe :)

    Smoothered with avocado & gouda does sound good Tanita :)

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  5. Press and marinate is my tofu mantra.

    You can also make a good fake ricotta but blitzing it in the food processor with nuts or seeds.

    And making your own is dead easy, fresh still warm tofu is a thing of real beauty. I blogged about it a good year or so back.

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  6. Hi Helen, I just know I have a lot to learn yet about tofu :)

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  7. Don't forget there's always there's always cheesecake. (You'll have to scroll down for the recipe, but it's tasty.)

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  8. Cooper sounds like a good lad - eating beyond his age!!!

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  9. I've never been a fan of tofu either, Jacqueline, but have tried it several times when I was out to dinner. Once I thought it was terrible but the other times it was delicious. Always fried and always with some sort of marinade.
    Still, I don't think I would make it regularly at home. But I give you kudos for trying to give your darling Cooper the best nutrition possible.

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  10. He's a good baby Barbara :)

    Marinated does seem the way to go Barbara :)

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  11. Delicious - and that's just Cooper! :) This Tofu looks great - really lovely to see the care you are taking over Cooper's diet. Best of luck with the weaning xx

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  12. In my veggie phase I tried Tofu - once! Don't know what I did but it could of bounced from here to Australia and back again so it kinda put me off tryign it again. Your photo's look fab though so maybe ....
    Cooper is growing up so fast!

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  13. i myself do not feel very at ease with tofu but maybe this is mn my head I should give a try !! Cheers de Paris Pierre

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  14. I've never made anything with Tofu!Thanks for the tutorial though - I might now try!

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  15. Good for you for going outside your comfort zone! I do love tofu and the way you describe cooking it is spot on. Getting the moisture out will allow it to brown and a flavorful marinade or sauce is crucial since the stuff doesn't have much flavor on its own. Looks delicious!

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  16. Adding apple juice to the teriyaki sauce sounds amazing!

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  17. I used to think I didn't like tofu... I definitely prefer it crispy. I don't cook with it very often but will enjoy it in Chinese restaurants.

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  18. Hi Lucie, I am looking forward to introducing him to different foods, it will be fun finding out what he likes.

    He is Chele, he changes a little every day :)

    I always felt like that too Pierre, but it was most enjoyable in a stir-fry.

    Glad the post is useful to someone else and not just a record for me Alex :)

    Thanks Dana :)

    It was very tasty Pam :)

    I will order it from now on too Rachel :)

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  19. I hope you can find other ways to eat tofu that you like. =) I've never seen it pan fried and then marinated. Usually marinated first then baked. Very interesting! These are my favourite tofu recipes: http://www.eatmedelicious.com/2009/07/honey-mustard-marinated-tofu.html, http://www.eatmedelicious.com/2007/06/tofu-magic.html, http://www.eatmedelicious.com/2007/06/im-in-love-with-luscious-beets.html

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  20. Thanks Ashley, I think I will try the mustard recipe :)

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  21. We just slice the brick in half, slap it into a pan with some hot oil, sprinkle on some seasonings and that's that. Flip it once it's fried on one side, repeat the seasoning addition, maybe throw on some cheese. Put it onto an open-faced sandwich with some avocado & lettuce & mustard & mayo, yum! Seasonings to add: onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, oregano, thyme, sage.

    It's our major protein source.

    For breakfast, we'll take a box of silken tofu & smash it up, season it similarly to above, and fry it like scrambled eggs. Fabulous! If you add some turmeric it'll even look like scrambled eggs. T. has fooled people (carnivores) even. :)

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  22. Glad to see you embracing tofu! I love it myself. There's a particular tofu quiche that has been stealing most of my tofu-attention lately. One of my favorite ways to prepare it is to toss it with a bit of tamari (or soy sauce) and sesame oil and bake it at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Baking really gives a great texture, give it a try sometime!

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  23. Thank you David and Sarah, it is great to have some more techniques to try out. Baking has been mentioned to me a few times now Sarah, so I will give it a go and the spices you mentioned sounded ideal David :)

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  24. There are actually a lot of ways to cook tofu and they are all delicious.

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  25. Have you tried tempeh? Not as easy to get hold of, but is meant to be more easy to digest than tofu and therefore we can absorb more of the protein and other nutrients. It's also a lot tastier - in my humble opinion anyway.

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  26. will be interested to hear how you go - sylvia loves tofu though like everything else she is hot and cold on it and took a while to like it - it is a wonderfully versatile ingredient for both babies and adults - sounds from this like you prefer a firmer tofu - I am not so keen on silken tofu but it is useful occasionally for creaminess - good luck! I have quite a few recipes for tofu in the fridge section of my Index by ingredient highly recommend these

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  27. Kids LOVE tofu, even just raw in cubes.

    It's soft, bland, and easy to pick up with fingers or fork. It can also be dipped in sauces (which makes every food good if you are a preschooler).

    Red lentil dahl is a good first protein. Quick, easy, and you can easily make a combo recipe -- save some plain for Cooper and turn the rest into tasty soup with (you guessed it) tinned tomatoes, etc.

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  28. I've heard of it Choclette, but I have never tried it. Must look out for it :)

    Hey Johanna, I haven't tried soft tofu in a dish yet, it is good for puddings, isn't it? Well tell a lie, I have tried it at David & Tanita's house in cheesecake, but I never even knew it was in there. Haven't baked with it yet though. Thanks for the link :)

    Hi Anon, thank you for the tip :)

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  29. tofu is tricky, i agree, and even if it's quite nice when cooked properly it has tasted of yukky yeast too many times for me to be quite convinced about its edibility... great read! and nice tips for me too! love the notion and commitment of raising a vegetarian baby:)

    ps i have the same chinese bowl, here there and everywhere it has been spread...:) ds

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I love reading comments, so thank you for taking the time to leave one. Unfortunately, I'm bombarded with spam, so I've turned on comment moderation. I'll publish your comments as soon as I can and respond to them. Don't panic, they will disappear when you hit publish. Jac x

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