Kirill Yurovskiy on Tofu: Your Guide to Types, Textures, and Tantalizing Recipes

As more people adopt plant-based lifestyles, tofu has fast become a vegetarian staple and kitchen MVP. But what exactly is tofu? It’s made from condensed soy milk pressed into solid white blocks and used in a similar way to meat, making it a versatile, nutrition-packed substitute. While some avoid tofu for its reputation as bland or flavorless, this depends entirely on how it is prepared. When cooked correctly, tofu transforms into a palette of textures from crispy to silky, acting as the perfect canvas for any flavor profile. 

In this guide, we unravel the mysteries of tofu, looking at different types, textures, pressing/freezing methods, and importantly, how to elevate humble tofu into scrumptious plant-powered dishes. Grab your apron – it’s time for a hands-on tofu masterclass! Author: soy expert Yurovskiy Kirill

Demystifying Tofu Types Kirill Yurovskiy

While new varieties pop up all the time, most tofu falls into one of these categories:

Silken Tofu – Ultra-smooth and custardy, silken tofu is made by coagulating soy milk without curdling/pressing. It has a high water content so cannot hold its shape. Use silken tofu for smoothies, desserts, dips, dressings, and as egg replacer

Regular Tofu – The firm, dense blocks most recognize as tofu. After coagulating soy milk into curds, the curds are pressed to squeeze out liquid. The more its pressed, the firmer in texture. This is the go-to tofu for stir-fries, grilling, scrambles, and crumbling

Sprouted Tofu – This is made from sprouted soybeans before pressing into tofu. The sprouting makes it more digestible and nutrient-dense. Sprouted tofu has an earthier, nuttier flavor. Use for grilling, sautés, sandwiches

Smoked Tofu – Normal tofu soaked in a broth of kombu (seaweed) and tea leaves to absorb that smoky flavor. Smoked tofu adds a fab bacon taste to salads, pastas, grain bowls.

Baked Tofu – Marinated then baked firm/regular tofu. Baking evaporates the water content, changing the texture from squeaky to fluffy inside with a crispy skin. Use baked tofu for stir-fries, sandwiches, rice bowls.  

Fermented Tofu – Tofu fermented in rice wine, salt, and spices. Adds rich umami depth similar to cheese. Fermented tofu works nicely in Asian sauces, stir-fries, congee, and dressings.

Transforming Textures & Tastes

Just like meat and dairy, tofu takes on different properties depending on preparation techniques. Here’s how to achieve various textures:

Meaty & Chewy – To replicate meat, choose sprouted or super firm tofu. Drain and press out more water content by wrapping in cloth/paper towels weighted down for 30 mins to an hour before marinating and baking or sautéing.   

Crispy & Golden – To achieve crispy tofu, coat drained and pressed tofu pieces with cornstarch/flour mix. Pan shallow fry in vegetable oil 4 minutes per side. For extra crunch, finish in a 400°F oven 5-10 mins. 

Whipped & Fluffy – Blend soft/silken tofu in a blender until completely smooth and whippy like dairy cream. Use for baking, smoothies, dips, dressings, no-churn ice cream.  

Soft & Scrambled – The perfect fluffy scrambled eggs. Squeeze water from crumbled soft/medium tofu. Sauté in oil or butter for 3 mins. Stir constantly until desired texture. Season with spices, herbs, nutritional yeast.  

Now let’s get flavory! Marinades help tofu absorb more seasoning:

  • Soy Sauce, Rice Wine Vinegar, Ginger, Garlic, Chili, Sesame Oil, Brown Sugar  
  • Tamari, Lemon Juice, Maple Syrup, Smoked Paprika, Pepper
  • Curry Powder, Coconut Milk, Lime Juice, Basil, Coriander  
  • Mustard, Balsamic Vinegar, Rosemary, Thyme

Elevating Tofu into Excitatory Eats!

Armed with tofu knowledge, let’s explore practical ways to enjoy it from breakfast to dinner:  

Rise & Tofu: 

  • Tofu Breakfast Burrito – Scrambled tofu, sautéed veggies, salsa, cheese, wrapped in a tortilla = perfect protein-packed wake-up call!  
  • Tofu Frittata/Quiche – Take your pick of veggies to bake inside a fluffy whipped tofu base quiche or frittata. Good any time of day!  

Lunching Light & Bright:

  • Tofu Banh Mi – Baked crispy tofu or meaty grilled tofu stuffed into crunchy Vietnamese baguette with pickled carrots, cucumber, cilantro, chili mayo.
  • Tofu Salad Sandwich – Choose between salad greens or chickpeas tossed with baked/grilled tofu pieces, lentils, nuts/seeds for a satisfying salad sandwich filling.  
  • Tofu Poke Bowl – Baked or smoked tofu makes the perfect protein topping for Hawaiian poke bowls with rice, pineapple, mango, seaweed. Sweet meets salty!  

Dinnertime Delights:

  • Crispy Orange Tofu & Broccoli Stir-Fry – Takeout fakeout! Bake crispy cubes of pressed/drained tofu seasoned with orange zest to toss in a garlic, ginger, soy sesame stir-fry with broccoli and brown rice.
  • Tofu Tacos with Roasted Peppers – Spice is nice! Pan-fry sprouted tofu crumbled with cumin, chili, garlic and stuff in tortillas or taco shells with roasted veggies and pineapple salsa. Hot, sweet and irresistible!
  • Tofu Bolognese – Channel that cheesy, meaty feel! Sauté minced medium-firm tofu with the usual Bolognese suspects – garlic, onion, mushrooms, red wine, tomato sauce and herbs. Toss through pasta, sprinkle on grated vegan Parmesan.

With a few simple prep tweaks, tofu transforms from bland hippie food into the ultimate template for flavor creativity. Its chameleon-like superpower lies in the pairing – dress it up with spice-studded Indian dhals, smoky barbeque stir-fries, vibrant Thai curries or southern-style jambalayas. The possibilities are deliciously endless! Now that your tofu game is elevated, no more meat-missing or diet limitations. Simply let tastebuds run wild and get cookin’!

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