Tofu, or pressed soybean
curd, gets a bad rap from non-believers. "It's
so bland!" they cry. "It tastes like nothing!"
That, my dear friends, is precisely the point. Tofu tastes like nothing,
so it can be induced into tasting like anything. It's one of the most
amazingly versatile and moldable foods ever invented. Stick it in your
favorite marinade and you'll soon understand the value of these little
And as much as tofu plays the role of kitchen chameleon in terms of
flavor, its texture is another element of its versatility that is not
to be overlooked. In fact, even before you take it home from the store,
tofu offers a variety of textural options. If you want a good substitute
for sour cream or yogurt, select silken tofu . With
its high water content and creamy feel, silken tofu easily whips up in
the blender as a base for salad dressings and smoothies. Go with firm or extra-firm
tofu , and you'll get a denser, sliceable curd that can stand
up to stir-frying, pan frying, and grilling.
Once you've chosen your style, you can still morph the tofu texture.
Freeze and thaw it and you'll get a coarser, denser version that can
be crumbled into chili. And to make your firm tofu even firmer, and thus,
a better sop for marinade, you'll want to press it. Place your block
of firm or extra firm tofu on a large plate, cover it with another plate,
and weigh the top plate down with a large can or jar (a pasta sauce jar
works nicely). Press for 30 minutes, pour off the water that's drained
out, and your tofu is ready to use.
And if you don't feel like going through all that fuss, you can also
purchase pre-marinated and even pre-seasoned and baked tofu at specialty
gourmet and health food stores.