How to Prepare Tofu

There are so many ways to prepare nutritious, versatile tofu. Learn techniques from parboiling to squeezing.

| November/December 1976

The following procedures are used regularly in cooking with tofu. Try to master them from the outset, since each gives the tofu a unique consistency and texture. The eight techniques listed below are in order of the amount of water each allows to remain in the tofu. Thus parboiling, the first technique, expels very little water, while crumbling rids the tofu of more than 65 percent of its moisture, leaving it very firm and containing more than 20 percent protein. The chart with this sidebar shows the effect of each technique on the weight, protein, and moisture content of a 12-ounce cake of tofu originally containing 7.8 percent protein and 84.9 percent water.

When fresh tofu is mashed or blended, 9 ounces yield 1 cup, and 12 ounces yield approximately 1-1/2 cups.


This technique is used with both regular tofu and kinugoshi (a smooth-textured tofu made from thick soymilk) for at least four different purposes: [1] to warm the tofu before serving it topped with hot sauces, [2] to freshen stored tofu that shows signs of spoiling, [3] to make the tofu slightly firmer so that when simmered in seasoned broths it absorbs flavors without diluting the cooking medium, [4] to impart to the tofu a slight cohesiveness desired when preparing aemono (Japanese-style tofu salads).

The addition of a small amount of salt to the water seasons the tofu slightly, imparts to it a somewhat firmer texture, and makes possible longer parboiling without the tofu developing an undesirably porous structure.

Because parboiling causes a slight loss in some of the tofu's delicate flavors, it should be used only when necessary.

REGULAR PARBOILING: Bring 1 quart water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to low and drop in tofu. Cover and heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until tofu is well warmed. (For a firmer texture, cut tofu into 4 equal pieces before parboiling.) Lift out finished pieces with a slotted spoon.

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