Whether you’re a seasoned tofu maker or introduced to the simple yet versatile soybean curd recently, you’ve probably been wondering how to press tofu. The pressing is an essential part of the tofu-making process, allowing excess moisture and whey to drain out. Of course, if you’re like most people, you’d rather spend that time doing something else, whether it’s sleeping or doing laundry. Worry no more – here’s how to press tofu.
What is Tofu?
Tofu, also called bean curd, is a food made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into soft white blocks. It is of Chinese origin and is a traditional ingredient in East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines. There are many different varieties of tofu, including fresh tofu and tofu that have been processed in some way. Tofu has a subtle flavor and can be used in savory and sweet dishes. It is often seasoned or marinated to suit the dish.
Tofu originated in ancient China during the Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). The tofu was introduced to Japan during the Nara period (710-794 AD). It was probably eaten by Buddhist monks as early as the time of the Three Kingdoms (220-265 AD) as a meat substitute.
How to Press Tofu
Tofu is a great protein and super versatile, but if you don’t know how to press tofu, you’re missing out on all its potential. Pressing the tofu will help it achieve the texture you are looking for and allow it to soak up more flavor.
Step 1: Drain and Cut Tofu
If you have soft tofu, make sure to drain the liquid before pressing. If you have a firm or extra-firm tofu, cut it into the size that you want to press.
Step 2: Press Tofu
Place your tofu on a plate, then place another plate on top of the tofu. Place something heavy on the top plate (a heavy can of food works well). Let’s sit for 10-30 minutes. The longer you let it press, the firmer your tofu will be. Transfer to a container, cover with water and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
How Long to Press Tofu
Unlike other cuts of meat, tofu doesn’t have a lot of fat. The less fat the product has, the faster it cooks. Therefore, pressing tofu is crucial because it helps remove excess moisture and speeds up the cooking process.
How long to press tofu depends on several factors
The first one is the size of your tofu block. Larger blocks take longer to press than smaller blocks do. A 1-block of tofu should take about 20 minutes to press while a 2-block takes about 30 minutes.
The second factor is the firmness you desire in your finished dish. If you like your tofu soft and spongy, you might want to reduce pressing time by 5 minutes or so. However, if you like your tofu with a bit more chew, you may want to extend the pressing time by 5 minutes.
The last factor is how much weight you’re using to press your tofu. Usually, we recommend placing your tofu between two plates and then placing heavy books on top of that stack. However, if your books are small or light, pressing time will need to be increased by 5 minutes or so.
Why Do You Need To Press The Tofu Before Using It?
If you’ve ever eaten tofu before, you know that it has no flavor on its own and can be pretty spongy. In order for tofu to absorb the flavors of whatever you’re cooking, you want to press out as much liquid as possible. This allows the delicious sauce or marinade to penetrate all of the nooks and crannies rather than just sitting on top in one big puddle. It also helps firm up the tofu so that it becomes denser, making it easier to cut into cubes or slices without breaking apart or crumbling. If you’re looking for crispy baked tofu, pressing is mandatory!
Why Should You Eat Tofu?
Tofu is a great source of protein, iron, and calcium, and contains all nine essential amino acids. It can be used in a wide variety of dishes and is great for marinating as it soaks up flavor. You can also use it instead of meat or fish to add protein to your meals.
Favorite Tofu Recipes:
1. Sautéed Tofu With Ginger and Scallions
This is my go-to tofu dish — it’s easy, quick, and delicious. You can use it as a vegetarian main dish or as part of a multi-course Chinese meal. I like to serve it with a dipping sauce, but that’s optional.
2. Easy BBQ Tofu
This recipe is one of our favorite ways to enjoy tofu. The real secret to great BBQ tofu is to press the moisture out of it ahead of time. This makes it easier to marinate and gives it a better texture when it’s cooked up.
3. Vegan Bibimbap With Crispy Sesame Tofu
This Vegan Bibimbap recipe is absolutely delicious! Inspired by Korean cuisine and made with crispy sesame tofu, this dish is so easy to make and only requires one skillet! It’s served with a flavorful combination of sautéed mushrooms, spring onions, spinach, and carrot ribbons. The perfect healthy vegetarian option!
4. Spicy Vegan Tofu Chili With Sour Cream
African cuisine is one of the most vegan-friendly in the world. It’s also one of the most flavorful and varied, with a wealth of ingredients to draw upon and an emphasis on foods that are both filling and nutritious. South African cuisine is no exception. It becomes even more vegan-friendly when you consider that many of its traditional dishes incorporate a fair amount of vegetables. These are two of my favorite veganized South African recipes: a braised lentil dish called Moyo and a stewed vegetable dish known as bobotie, which is often made with meat but tastes just as good without it.
5. Afghan Cauliflower And Tofu Tikka Kebab Skewers
Spiced with curry and turmeric, these vegan chickpea and cauliflower kebabs are a flavorful weeknight meal that can be on your table in 30 minutes. This Indian-inspired recipe is made with just a few affordable ingredients. Serve it as a main dish or side salad with rice or naan bread.
Now you know How to Press Tofu! Hopefully, this guide has given you some valuable insight into various methods of tofu pressing. Plus, we gave our own careful approach to the procedure and provided a host of helpful tips and tricks to follow when pressing tofu at home. Time to get to work!