Let Tofu be Squishy, for God’s sake
If crispy isn’t the end goal, there’s a huge world of textures: creamy silken tofu, springy firm tofu, springy extra firm tofu. Tofu comes in many forms and longs to become many things – and no, it doesn’t always have to be forced, wrung, or beaten into submission. Turn to these four techniques for tofu that’s not crispy but just as deserving of the spotlight.
For custard spoonable tofu:
Make Japanese hiyayakko for soft tofu that is soft and velvety. It’s a cooling, refreshing, dead-simple side that’s all about the jiggly delights of silken tofu. It’s as easy as searching your fridge and pantry for toppings like scallions, sesame paste, and roasted veggies, then piling them high on a cold block. It’s also endlessly adaptable and a textural delight, especially when paired with crunchy garnishes like sesame seeds or fried onions.
For creamy soft tofu:
When gently tossed into a pan of sizzling aromatics and veggies, the texture of silken tofu transforms into a soft scrambled egg curd like in this Ginger-Scallion Tofu Scramble With Spinach and Chili Oil. Gentle heat and gentle stirring are key here – you’re not cooking the tofu, just heating it through and you still want separate pieces. A silicone spatula is a great tool to have on hand: it’s flexible and soft enough not to overload the tofu into a mushy mash.
For springy, springy tofu:
In this cozy, comforting stewed tofu and chiles recipe, the extra-firm tofu texture is the main event. Keeping the cubes large and firm keeps the texture pleasantly bouncy with a little bite, without getting into soggy territory, which can happen when tofu releases its moisture and makes for a watery sauce.
For squeaky, chewy tofu:
In salads that could use a little texture, cut extra-firm tofu into thin sticks and toss them into the mix. Fresh tofu adds just the right amount of crumbly texture, similar to fresh cheese like halloumi or paneer. Try this Celery, Green Bean and Tofu Salad With Chili Crisp. And because tofu is a shape-shifter and takes on flavors from whatever it’s paired with, it’s versatile enough to be tossed into all kinds of salads.
Look for the good stuff:
Whatever recipe you’re making, high-quality tofu really makes all the difference. The fresher the tofu, the more pronounced the nutty, slightly sweet and milky flavors will be. Keep an eye out for local tofu shops and sources, but we’re also big fans of Hodo and Phoenix Bean.