What Does Tofu Taste Like? | A Chef's Guide
Have you never tried tofu? Are you wondering what tofu tastes like? Tofu is tasteless, the tasteless nature of the product is what makes it uniquely versatile. You can drain out the water and season it to any flavor you desire (link).
While some stick out their tongues in repulsion at the mention of the name, others keep browsing the web to discover the latest recipes to delight their taste buds.
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Tofu is typically used in Asian cuisine, it is made using coagulated soy milk packaged in the form of white solid blocks that vary in terms of texture and softness. Tofu comes in different shapes and sizes and is packaged in dripping water. The product can be refrigerated but only lasts for between 3 and 5 days after it has been removed from its original packaging. You can slice this produce into slices or cubes and cook it in a variety of ways such that it will absorb maximum flavor.
5 Types Of Tofu
1. Silken Tofu
What does it taste like?
Silken tofu has a creamy taste along with a fatty flavor since it's made using dense soy milk.
Silken tofu can also be referred to as Japanese style tofu. This type of tofu is silky creamy and has the highest water content. It can be described as more curdy compared to other varieties. Silken tofu comes packaged in a semi-solid form, kind of gelatinous custardy material that you can easily scoop out.
It's the least strong and most delicate of all tofu varieties and due to its high moisture content. When you pick silken tofu with a fork, it will fall into several pieces. Therefore, it's not ideal for baking or pan frying. That said its best suited for creamy desserts along with dressings. You can also blend the tofu into a smoothie. This tofu can be used as fresh cream cheese, thick cream, ravioli fillings, and dips.
Regular tofu comes in a variety of firmnesses. Below are the 3 firmest types of tofu: Firm, extra firm, and super firm. Each perfect for different recipes.
2. Firm Tofu
What does it taste like?
It has a bland taste and can taste slightly beany.
It is somewhat compact and packaged soaked in liquid. This tofu holds its shape well and doesn't crumble when you pick it up. It can keep the most flavor types and marinades. It's also easy to chop. This tofu is very versatile and can be deep-fried, used to make spreads, stir-fried, used as a filling, and put in a stew. If you desire, you can season or smoke it. Ensure you dry the tofu thoroughly, so it soaks up the marinade better and doesn't splatter too much on the pan.
3. Extra Firm Tofu
What does it taste like?
It has a bland and slightly beany taste. It is ideal for frying.
Extra-firm tofu is quite similar to firm tofu only that it holds less water. The versatility in terms of keeping flavors is also identical to that of firm tofu just that it doesn't absorb marinades well. The upper side of this option is that you can quickly pan fry, stir fry and deep fry it.
4. Super Firm Tofu
What does it taste like?
It is very dense, it can be cooked to produce a meaty flavor.
It is extraordinarily dense and has high protein content making it look almost similar to meat. It contains the least water of the types above and doesn't fall apart when you hold it. It's best suited as a stand-in for feta cheese. It absorbs flavors and increases texture when crumbled in stews. Chop it into cubes or cuts, pan fry, stir fry, and deep fry it and blend with a hot marinade.
5. Stinky Tofu
What does it take like?
Despite the strong pungent smell, it tastes bland; remove the pungent smell by spraying soy sauce and chili sauce.
Stinky tofu is a trendy type of tofu, especially in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. This is a type of soft tofu fermented using vegetable together with fish brine. Stinky tofu has a strong cheese smell and can be likened to rotting food. To make it more pungent, the brine should be kept for weeks and even months. Despite the pungent smell, it has a delightful taste.
It is great fried and can be served with soy sauce, hot sauce, and sweet sauce. When deep fried, stinky tofu is considered as a premium dish. It's served in small slices skewered on a plate and layered with pickles. Stinky tofu is an excellent alternative to protein-based meals that have high levels of saturated fats. The fermented tofu enhances the growth of healthy bacteria known as probiotics that help better your digestion. It also has antioxidant properties that help keep away free radicals in the body that bring about diseases.
5 Ways To Change The Taste Of Tofu
Marinate the tofu for around thirty minutes. You can also marinate the tofu overnight in very strongly flavored marinades such as the ones based on garlic, ginger, or other heavily spiced mixtures. This allows enough time for the tofu to absorb delicious flavors and make your dish much tastier.
Most recipes will instruct you to press the tofu first. Pressing facilitates the removal of excess water in the tofu so that it can absorb much more flavor. Always press the tofu, especially when you plan to fry it in hot oil so that it doesn't scramble in the hot oil.
Instructions to press tofu:
1. Once you open the tofu packaging, drain off the water.
2. Slice the tofu by width into slices.
3. On a sheet pan, put down paper towel and spread the tofu slices.
4. Add more paper towels over the tofu and cover them with another sheet pan.
5. Look for a heavy object and place it over the sheet pan.
6. Leave the tofu for about 30 minutes. If you are not in such a hurry, you can even leave it to press overnight.
Boiling the tofu first can significantly help you to obtain a much more robust texture and improve the seasoning of the tofu.
Instructions to boil tofu:
1. Boil the tofu cubes in well-salted water for about 5-10 minutes.
2. You can then drain the water from the tofu and squeeze using a kitchen roll to remove as much water as possible.
The extra firm tofu variety is best for grilling.
Instructions to grill tofu:
1. Brush using your favorite marinade or sauce.
2. Keep turning the tofu and adding the extra marinade.
3. Before you place the cubes on the grill, apply oil on the grill surface to ensure that the tofu doesn't stick and crumble.
5. Crisp and Coat
To make you tofu delightfully crunchy, crisp it without oil and grease.
Instruction to crisp tofu:
1. Drain, press and cut the tofu into cubes.
2. Marinate with your favorite flavors. You can coat the tofu to incorporate more flavor as well as texture. Use dustings, batter, or bread crumbs along with herbs and spices. If you want to achieve a sweet crispy flavor, you can coat the firm tofu with cornflour.
3. Cook tofu in a non-stick pan until you achieve a beautiful golden brown look for about 5 minutes.
What does tofu feel like?
When you remove a block of tofu from its original package, it's covered in water, mushy and spongy.
Freezing makes the tofu denser. Tofu comes in super firm, firm, extra firm, and soft textures; Always buy the right tofu texture ideal for your recipe. Firmer varieties are suitable for replacing meat in almost any recipe. On the other hand, softer types are appropriate for more delicate recipes to improve the texture.
Does tofu taste like chicken?
No, tofu doesn't taste like chicken, but you can flavor it to make it taste like chicken. Tofu itself is tasteless unless you are super sensitive when it comes to low amounts of glutamates. Because Tofu has a bland taste, you can flavor it in as many ways as you want, including a chicken flavor.
Does tofu taste like cheese?
Tofu doesn't taste like cheese. It has a blank taste. If you desire a cheesy flavor, you can make vegan feta cheese that tastes like feta cheese using extra-firm tofu. Check this recipe out from Simple Vegan Blog if you’re interested in making your own (link).
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