Besides beans, lentils and nuts, tofu is one of the key protein ingredients used in many of the recipes at Zen River. How to prepare tofu is a big factor in getting it right. It doesn’t really taste much of anything in its pure form. So the trick is to prepare it in such a way that it has both texture and taste!
This basic recipe shows how to prepare firm tofu which can substitute many recipes that use stir-fried pieces of meat. When cooking for a large crowd, I’ll stir-fry it in small batches to not crowd the frying pan. Sometimes, if there is too much else to do in the kitchen and am feeling rushed, I might toss the diced tofu with oil and soy sauce, scatter them over an oiled baking sheet and bake them in a hot oven for 25-30 minutes. Voila!
This recipe explains how to stir-fry tofu in a frying pan. But be sure to use a non-stick frying pan for best results.
300 g (1¾ cups) plain firm tofu
2 tablespoons soy sauce (low-sodium Kikkoman brand is good)
1–2 tablespoons sunflower, or other frying oil
Pinch cloves (optional)
- Optional: this will give the tofu a stronger texture with small bubbles that will absorb more flavour. Freeze the tofu for 48 hours. After freezing and before using, remove the packaging, place in a heat-proof bowl and cover with hot water to speed up the thawing process. Allow to thaw completely before slicing. (Tip: We usually store all our tofu in the freezer and defrost the night before.)
- Gently press out any excess moisture from the firm tofu. Be careful, as it needs to stay in shape. Press too hard, and it will crumble.
- Cut the tofu into medium-sized squares. Place in a colander to drip-dry for a few more minutes.
- Heat 1–2 tablespoons of sunflower oil in a nonstick frying pan on a medium flame. Put in the tofu and stir-fry until it turns golden on the edges. Next, sear the tofu with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing the soy sauce to evaporate before adding the next tablespoon. Turn down the flame and toss the tofu occasionally until crisp and golden, about 10 minutes.
- Optional: sprinkle with a little ground cloves to give it a stronger flavour.
- Stir carefully through your favourite recipe – being careful not to break them as they are fragile – either just before serving to keep their crispness, or add to sauces straight away so they can absorb some of the other flavours.