Easy Tofu Dishes

Image by hanul choi from Pixabay

Since I started a healthy diet regime about ten years ago, I’ve always been on the look out for new recipes. One of my friends told me that healthy and tasty can not be used to describe the same food. I don’t agree with this, but I have to admit that if one wants to eat healthily, one’s choice of food is rather limited, and it is not easy to have tasty food if one insist on low fat, low calorie, low salt, low cholesterol ingredients. Beans are one of the few food items that fit in this restrictive diet regime. Among them, tofu is often used. However tofu has some intrinsic weaknesses according to my own experience with it: it doesn’t have a ready texture; it doesn’t have much taste by itself; it doesn’t absorb the flavor as readily as other food items. Due to these commonly perceived defects, tofu is disliked by many.

Another reason people dislike it is because there’s a learning curve involved in cooking tofu. When I was growing up, we didn’t eat tofu at all since my mother disliked it. When I started to cook for myself, I spent a long time experimenting different methods of cooking it to make it more flavorful. I failed many times. Since I am a person who refuses to throw away food, I end up eating my own awful experimental results. Needless to say, such a method of forcing tofu down one’s own throat is not the best way to promote endearing feelings. So after each failed experiment, there’s always a period of tofu avoidance, usually about two or three months. Then my spirit perks up again and a new round of tofu adventure starts.

So far I have accumulated several easy tofu recipes. My favorite recipes are always easy recipes. I know several tofu experts who would always tell me that the ideal way to cook tofu is simmering it in your favorite sauce for a long period of time–overnight preferred. However my life is not ideal and I opt for quicker procedures.

Also I forgot to mention that some tofu experts insist that tofu needs to be pre-cooked or pre-processed before the real cooking starts. Usually it is in the form of throwing tofu into a pot of boiling water, or roll it in a thin layer of batter, which is made of flour and egg. I actually tried these pre-cooking methods, but I don’t see the difference in taste. There’s probably a difference, but not too much difference. So I have decided to skip the pre-cooking steps to keep things quick and easy.

Another thing that the tofu experts often tell me is that homemade tofu is the best, but I haven’t been able to do it after trying it ten times in the last ten years. One or two of my friends highly recommend the brand “House Foods”, but I prefer Trader Joe’s organic tofu. Trader Joe’s has several kinds of tofu. The one in a plastic container with a red cover is the best.

Here are my easy recipes:

Sloppy Joe Tofu

Cut tofu into small cubes. I usually do 1/3 inch cubes (about 1 cm) or even smaller. Then I put it on a flat dish and microwave on high for two to three minutes. There will be water coming out of tofu. Discard the water and add dark soy sauce–it has to be the really dark soy sauce that can almost stain your hands. Here you can add any sauce you desire as long as it has a strong flavor. For example, the teriyaki sauce or oyster sauce or the Korean obok chunjang sauce. If the sauce is too thick, you want to dilute it with a little bit of chicken stock or water first. After mixing tofu with the sauce, return it to the microwave for three to four minutes on high. That’s done. So easy.

Tofu Sandwich

This is not really a slice of tofu between two pieces of bread. That’s not it. It’s actually adding a slice of pan fried tofu into one’s favorite sandwich to replace half of the meat content. This way one can eat less meat and more beans. The way to prepare this slice of tofu is easy. One can just cut tofu into flat pieces about 1/3 of inch thick and pan fry it. One can add a little soy sauce after the pan frying.

Tofu Jelly

There are several ways of doing the tofu jelly. The most traditional way is using gypsum or nigari, both are available from Amazon. However the fat and protein content in most of the commercial brand of soymilk is not high enough to make the procedure successful. After trying it half a dozen times without any success, I have given it up. Now I use two methods with no nigari or gypsum.

The first method is just like the process of making jello–instead of using fruit juice, one uses soymilk. It is very easy to make.

The second method is using soymilk and eggs. I usually use 250ml of soymilk. Heat it until it is still OK to put your figure in the soymilk without getting burned. That’s about 50 degree Celsius. I take two large eggs. Since eating two yolks a day is unhealthy, I usually just use one yolk. Whisk the eggs until the yolk and whites are combined. Add half a teaspoon of salt. Here the salt is necessary for the coagulation and without it, it is not going to work. Add the salt and whisk the eggs more before mixing it with the soymilk. Put the mixture in a ceramic ball and steam it. However steam should be very low and the boiling water should be hardly boiling. If the steam is too much, it is not going to work. Steam for twenty minutes on very low steam–the water should be hardly bubbling.

53 thoughts on “Easy Tofu Dishes

  1. I love tofu but it can be tricky to cook. I had a hard time when I first started eating tofu and thought it was bland and disgusting but now that I know how to cook it I love it. My favourite way to eat it right now is to cover it in jerk sauce and stir fry it till it’s crispy and then add a bit more sauce. It’s so delicious.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true. Tofu is not the love in the first sight. I didn’t eat tofu growing up because my mother didn’t like it and never cooked it. Thankfully I have friends who love it and always encourage me… Yes, one has to get a little bit inventive and have to be willing to try multiple times to get it into a taste one likes.

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      1. My parents hated it too so I never ate it till I was older but now my parents also like it especially my dad. I think with tofu you have to first figure out how you like it cooked because it tastes so different depending on how you cook it. Some people also enjoy it completely raw with no seasoning but I could never eat it like that.

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  2. I have tried to go vegetarian on two separate occasions, to no avail. I never made tasty tofu dishes myself, but I used to eat at a Thai restaurant and their tofu dishes were just as good as meat!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true. Tofu has its own intricacies–almost like a relationship. LOL. One has to have patient to experiment, to taste, to get used to. It is not a love in first encounter… I totally agree with you.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m a vegetarian and have had tofu in the past. It does have a particular flavor and not everyone may like it. I like the recipes you have shared. They sound like they should be delicious. Practice makes perfect. Haha! Where’s there’s a will, there’s a way. 🙂

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    1. Wow, I am on my way to become a vegetarian, but it is hard. I can’t completely go without meat and have to eat one chicken leg a day. However that’s the limit of my meat intake every day. Wish I can be a vegetarian like you. Someday I may get there.

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  4. I love your sloppy Joe tofu recipe, I have made it a few times!! So easy and good.
    Oh the other day I made fried tofu like fried chicken. I cut in cubes and breaded with seasoned flour, egg, panko. Yummy but I don’t think it’s very healthy 😅 Too much oil.

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    1. I sometimes bake it instead of frying it and you can still get that crispy texture if you coat it well! It’s a good alternative on days when you don’t want to eat something too greasy.

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  5. Truly enjoyed this post. Such innovative dishes. Tofu sandwich is delicious, I’ve tried it before. Tofu Jelly is quite new to me. Loved all the ideas you’ve presented here. Yep, it’s hard to get the flavours on tofu, unlike its non-vegan counterpart, Paneer! Paneer is made of milk fat and it’s nommm!!! 👌

    Liked by 2 people

      1. 🤩 Palak paneer is nom!
        But your ranking amongst paneer dishes will change if you taste panner butter Masala!
        (I don’t know if you foreigners will like it enough though, as it can feel quite “heavy” and fatty as opposed to the pleasant and light Palak paneer).

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I just love masala and I used to eat a lot of it. However I have since become more low fat and low spice kind of person and I don’t eat flavorful food as before. I understand how much you would enjoy it. My mouth is watering.

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        2. Masala is actually not high fat but it’s indeed not low spice. It’s wonderful that you’ve been turning towards healthy food. I agree with your friend who said that food cannot be tasty and healthy at the same time 😉 If you’ve been able to surpass the devilish desires of ur tongue, you are an inspiration! 💖

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        3. Haha, so true. Right now it is hard for foot to stay both tasty and healthy. Hopefully science can help our food become better and tastier and healthier. Yes, a healthy diet can be dispiriting. This is why many people opt to eat junk food and live dangerously.

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      2. Yes, I think you probably want to try tofu jelly first in Asian stores to see if you like it. This way you don’t waste your time to make something you won’t enjoy. It is not like regular jello, which I fall in love instantly. Tofu needs more time to get used to.

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    1. So true. So true. You bring up such a great point. Actually I think tofu is best to be simmered with the flavorful Indian sauce like curry, Masala, or any kind of chutney. Tofu doesn’t have much flavor itself and it enjoys being simmered with strong flavors. The longer the better. Actually I should have included the curry tofu since it is so easy to do…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, you are so right about it. Tofu is not like cheese or ice cream that one can fall in love with at the first bite. I gave up on tofu many times. However due to the fact that I often meet people who love tofu and who enjoy telling me how to improve my tofu cooking, I end up making many efforts to like tofu. It is a long process.

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  6. Tofu is an acquired taste and it really depends on how the cook makes it. I love this Chinese dish called, “Jia Chang Doufu” which is tofu with mixed vegetables. Usually the tofu is fried, but I boil the tofu instead which is easier for me. Mapo tofu is also easy but very spicy. In Korea there is this dish called dubu-kimchi which is boiled tofu mixed with stir-fried kimchi, very easy and very delicious.

    Anyways, enough about me, thanks for the recipes. I am very interested in trying out the sloppy joe tofu. I left some teriyaki sauce at my office’s fridge so I wouldn’t mind trying this out.

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    1. Wow, want to reduce my meat intake. We have tofurkey here too, and now there are many other brands too. They are a little on the expensive side and i hope the price can go down in the future.

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