Help the tofu newby

I like to cook, and I’m a pretty good cook, but I’m a rather basic cook - meat and potatoes, nothing too gourmet. Once in a while I’ll impulsively buy a new ingredient and experiment.

The other day I bought an 8-ounce package of firm organic nigari tofu. I have no idea what to do with it.

My previous experiences with tofu involved whipping it up with sweet things for desserts - I made a pretty good chocolate pie with silken tofu once. Since this is presumably salted tofu (according to the package, nigari is “a natural component of sea water”) I probably can’t do that. What do you foodie dopers think? Got any good nigari tofu recipes for me?

I commonly dice it up and use it like chicken in stirfry. Or stirfry it up and use it like chicken in salads and pasta salad.

I prefer the texture of fried tofu in most stir-fries. Either dice it into cubes (3/4 -1") or cut into triangles and fry gently in a little oil until golden brown. I just think it compliments the sauces and vegetables better with a little crustiness. Then use it in stir fries as you would chicken. I think it goes well with oyster sauce or black bean sauce.

Alternatively you can use it as an easy substitute for paneer (fresh cheese cubes) in Indian curries.

“Nigari” just puts the curd in bean curd: it’s a curdling agent, not a flavoring agent. Your tofu is bland as the day it was born, trust me :).

An ex-girlfriend taught me the lazy tofu marination technique: schlep your cubed tofu in a glass bowl along with some soy sauce (tamari, preferably), some garlic, some fresh grated ginger, and red pepper flakes. Add enough water so that the tofu is just barely covered, stir it around, and microwave it for seven or eight minutes. It gets the marinade deep enough into the tofu that the flavor is there.

My favorite tofu recipe involves treating the tofu like that, boiling up some brown rice, and then:

-Drain the tofu, reserving the marinade.
-Heat a couple tablespoons oil up real hot, then add the drained tofu. Fry it up until you start to get a layer of crust on the bottom side of the pan or wok.
-meanwhile, stir a huge spoonful of natural peanut butter into the marinade. Don’t ask questions, just do it.
-When the tofu starts getting that crust on the pan, deglaze it with the peanutty spicy marinade. Pour it in, scrape the bottom of the pan to get that yummy roasted flavor in there.
-Turn the heat to medium low and simmer the tofu until the sauce is getting very thick, stirring occasionally.
-Meanwhile, chop up a bunch of kale into bite-sized pieces. When the sauce is thick, add the kale to the pot, stir it up a bit, and throw the lid on. The liquid from the kale will thin the sauce as it cooks.
-Once the kale is done to your liking, spoon the mixture over the brown rice. It’s spicy, rich, and delicious.


I’ve only got a minute but I wanna subscribe to this, here’s my offering:

Dice, coat in cornflour and stir-fry. Marinade if you have time.

The texture improves if it’s been frozen and thawed.

Hi Opal (did I get that right?)

Personally, I think this gives it approximately the texture of a rotted kitchen sponge. :slight_smile: I prefer my tofu unfrozen.


I love cubed tofu in spicy soups.
It’s also great rubbed with spices and grilled like a steak (the extra firm is best for that.)
Yummy in stir-frys and just the bestest when it’s deep-fried and eaten with a sweet and hot dipping sauce.

Since Left Hand Of Dorkness dispelled any concern about saltiness, I recommend making smoothies with it. I have a hard time eating when I first get up and whizzing some tofu with soy milk (or reg. milk) and a banana in the blender gives me a healthy breakfast without making me queasy. You can add OJ too, but I personally find it too tart. Blueberries are good. God bless P.C. for selling that frozen-blueberries in a margarine container thingy! That’s just brilliant.

Thanks to everyone who’s replied so far! Especially to **Left Hand of Dorkness ** for explaining the nigari factor. I will print out all of your suggestions and try them. The thing with peanut butter and kale sounds awesome, as do the fruit smoothies.

I’d love to have more tofu recipes, if anyone has them. I’ve been wanting to add this ingredient to my repertoire for a long time.

I only know one way to cook tofu: scrambled. I buy the “scrambled tofu mix” at the store and folow the directions. (typically, you crumble the tofu and brown it in a skillet with a couple of tablespoons of oil and then add the mix) And then I usually mix in a can of beans when it’s done. Not a really excitng recipe but tofu is really good scrambled.

Actually it can even be baked. It comes out as a respectable nosh in its own right.

Marinate it overnight in sumpin’ to your tastes, e.g. Left Hand ofD’s recipe, bouillion w/ a tsp. of Liquid Smoke, etc. Go for something distinctly flavorful, though. Tofu doesn’t have really any taste on its own so you’re imparting your flavor of choice.
Just make sure the liquid covers the tofu block.
Drain it well, then put in something flat (w/ a lip, to catch liquid drain off) and bake for about an hour at low heat, say 275-300.
Cool and then cut. It’ll be distinctly solid, and maybe somewhat rubbery, but so’s cheese. I like it diced into bits over salads, or to nosh with crackers.

One of my favourite tofu dishes is done ganmodoki-style - very yummy! Many Chinese restaurants here have their own unique style of making a “signature” tofu dish in this way.

One day I’ll have to try making these chocolate tofu desserts I hear so much about. :cool:

Normally what I do with tofu is to freeze it overnight (as some other posters have already suggested) , thatw it out, then press it under something heavy to compress the water out of itt and give it a denser texture. Then proceed with frying, stir-frying, or barbecue (after a proper marinade). I like soy, garlic and ginger, but have had good results with barbecue sauce thinned with water or broth (for a veggie friend when I had a barbecue a few months back).

The most delicious tofu that I have ever had was cut in large thick rectangles and deep fried to a crunchy golden brown and then simmered slowly in a chinese clay pot. It absorbed all of the wonderful flavors and had a really satisfying meaty texture.
It was similar to this recipe, but the one I had contained meat and other veggies, mushrooms too. (I’m sure a regular cooking pot or casserole dish would substitute for a traditional chinese sand pot.)

A nod to gravity, this Japanese Yaki-dofu (grilled tofu) sounds pretty damn good (if you like miso, that is).

2 blocks of regular firm tofu
3/4 cup of white dengaku miso
6 tablespoons of red dengaku miso
1 teaspoon of very finely grated orange or lemon peel
1/3 cup of lightly steamed spinach leaves

Remove the excess moisture from the tofu by wrapping it in a clean towel and placing it between 2 cutting boards, let stand for 30 minutes. Now cut the tofu into slabs about a 1/2 inch thick and two inches long.

Prepare the miso toppings. To make the white miso topping mix 6 tablespoons of the white dengaku miso with the grated citrus peel and set aside. To make the green topping, puree the cooked spinach leaves and then mix thoroughly with 6 tablespoons of white dengaku miso. The red dengaku miso is ready as it is and will need no further preparation.

You can grill the tofu in one of two ways, in an oven broiler or on the stove top marshmallow style! If you choose the oven broiler, place the tofu on aluminum foil and broil each side until nicely browned… If you choose the stove top method, skewer the tofu with a long metal fork or bamboo skewer and hold just above the flames until the tofu is browned… Now, spread each of the tofu slabs with one of the three colored dengaku miso toppings and grill again until lightly browned. Serve hot.
Here are 26 “westernized” Tofu recipes, if more traditional Asian techniques and flavors aren’t your cup of tea.

Here are some recipe links you might like. I think the vegweb site has a lot of good tofu recipes (and reasonably diverse to accomodate different tastes in cuisine).

Enjoy discovering tofu. Like Daniel, I do not recommend freezing it. Tried it once and it turned into a crumbling mess.

Just trying to subscribe to this thread. Is there no way to do that anymore without posting? Can’t find the button if there is…

Fairguy and I are talking about reducing the amount of meat we eat (which is basically mostly turkey and chicken right now anyway) and of course trying out tofu came up, so I wanted to check out the links and all when I have a little more time to look them over.


I dice it small, stir fry it in olive oil until its light brown on the outside, salt it, and eat it like popcorn.

Pressing out the water will leave more room for soaking up marinades as well as helping keep it in shape. I put it between two wood cutting boards with a couple paper towels.

Yesterday I was inspired by this thread to make my very first tofu dish. The tofu I bought had a firm and pleasant texture, somewhat like room-temperature Swiss cheese, so I avoided the whole freezing/pressing/blotting issue. I marinated cubes in ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, and peanut butter, and then fried it and served it with the reserved marinade, carrots, and scallions over soba noodles. It was really good. I’m going to have the cold leftovers for lunch today. I couldn’t have done it without you.

Next I’m going to have to try the fried/simmered approach described by devilsknew. That sounds awesome.

Thanks to all, and keep 'em coming!

peanut butter?

echo peanut butter? Sounds intriguing!
Did you deep-fry or stir-fry the tofu?