Vegi-Dopers! Help prevent a second occurance of The Terror of Tofu Trauma!

Well…ok…not trauma, really, but it was really, really yukky.

Here’s the upshot: I’ve been trying to eat a couple of meatless meals a week for a while now. No ethical concerns, but health/weight and the desire to try some new recipes were my two motivating factors.

So…I find a recipe for grilled Tofu. “Tastes just like steak!” it claimed.

It lied.

What it tasted like was sort of steak-flavored scrambled eggs. The texture was just yuk. (Basic technique: sliced a block of the firmest tofu I could get into 4 strips. Squooshed out the Tofu-Juice by putting it on some paper towels and putting a skillet on it. Then marinated the drained tofu in worschiester(sp) sauce, soy-sauce, sherry, etc and redrained. Rolled the tofu in bread crumbs and put in a skillet. Grill/fry about 2 minutes a side. Result? Flavor good, crunchy outside, scrambled-eggs inside.)

That’s not what it’s supposed to be like, right?

Anyway, any suggestions would be appreciated. I’d also be interested in other recipes for main courses that are meatless, but still…er…meaty (Do you know what I mean by this??) recipes.



Well, they didn’t lie to you, insofar as they made no promises concerning texture.

Tofu doesn’t have, and isn’t going to acquire, the texture of steak. You would probably do better emulating the texture of a dish based on ground beef, substituting tofu; or shredded chicken, perhaps.
Oh, and it makes pretty good breakfast food when you fry it like that, too! :slight_smile:

The texture you got is about the best you’re going to get out of tofu, unless you marinate it, put it in your broiler, and leave it for about 8-10 minutes. Then you’ll get somewhere between chewy and crunchy, but not “scrambled eggs.”

A better solution, if you aren’t keen on tofu, is to buy some other soy-derived nonmeat product such as tempeh or seitan. Tempeh, especially, has a more “meaty” texture, and can either be marinated or bought in a variety of flavors. Leigh-Anne and I use it to make beefless stroganoff quite often, and it’s pretty good.

pl: recipe please!

Gotta give tha mad props and shout out (OMG, I can’t believe I just said that) to “Recipe Crumblers”[sup]TM[/sup]. It’s a TVP product that has the look, taste and consistency of ground beef. It also takes seasoning very well.

While on a Diving/Camping weekend I made two batches of chili. One with ground beef and one with RC. The RC batch went first! This with a bunch of beer swillin’ fire fighter types.

As far as tofu, I use extra firm and cut it into pieces which I either fry in a bit of oil to brown, or use “as is”, depending on how much time I want to spend. I stir fry some veggies, add tofu, and make a simple sauce of:

~1 C water
~1 T chicken stock powder (telma cube/ Kosher Matzoh Ball Soup seasoning)
~1 t dark soy sauce
~1 t light soy sauce (optional)
~1 T Corn starch.

Mix together and pour over veggies. Let boil to thicken.

You can sprinkle toasted sesame seeds if you wish, and/or add a bit of sesame oil to simple sauce for flavor.

Happy eating!

If the consistancy of tofu bugs you, you can also get baked tofu. It’s much firmer.

The meatiest meat substitute is Quorn. It has a meat like texture. Most meat eaters I know are happy to eat it, and in some recipes, can’t tell that it isn’t meat.
It’s made life a lot easier when visiting relatives, there’s no need to cook a different meal for me, they can just substitute this in place of say, chicken.

I don’t know whether it’s available internationally, but here’s the web site

Shoot . . . I almost forgot, you definitely should try Veat, which comes in several forms. There are the nuggets, which definitely have a beefy consistency and flavor and can be used in a ton of recipes. There are also the “breasts,” which look just like little chicken breasts, and taste pretty damned close too. I usually slather them with BBQ sauce and just cook them in the pan for a few minutes per side. You can also marinate them, cut them into strips and use them in stir-fry or similar recipes.

I can’t cook worth a damn, so when I want veggie I go out to eat.

Maybe I’m biased, but the best veggie meals are Asian. I went to this rather strange restaurant run by followers of some female guru who saw herself as a mixture of Buddha and Christ. Anyway, they had a GREAT dish made of gluten. This sounds gross, but it was kinda chewy, had a good texture and the sauce was great. Maybe you can try gluten as a meat substitute?

In a health food store I go to (Whole Foods - I don’t know if there is one in your area) has these great pre-packaged Indian meals. I can’t remember the brand, but they were in the ethnic foods section (naturally) and were packaged in foil envelopes in small boxes. There’s things like lentils and beans (great), a spinach dish, an eggplant dish, etc etc. Just eat them with some basmati rice.

Or, try buying an Asian cookbook.

Um, I meant


It’s a mushroom based rather than soy based product.

Fenris, try this website. .

If you type recipes in at their search engine, it will give you a bunch of choices.

I had printed off this GREAT .pdf recipe book off a soybean site and I’m trying hard to figure out where it is (the link). I’ll post it here when I find it. It had all sorts of recipes and tips on how to prepare different types of soybean products: soymilk, endame (sp), tofu, seitan, etc. REally cool. ::going to search::

Okay, found it: Link to recipe book is on front page.


In addition to all the other good meat substitute suggestions, may I suggest that you learn to like tofu for what it is?

If you go in expecting faux-steak, you’re going to be disappointed, of course. Tofu really can’t be the center of the meal the way meat is for non-vegetarians. It’s better to think of it more as a vehicle for the flavor of sauces (in stir frys) or as something to add a little more substance to a dish (such as hot and sour soup).

When I do a tofu stir fry I try to use the most flavorful sauces or add a really rich vegetable, like black mushrooms.

Don’t give up on it. It’s a healthy food and much cheaper than most of the other faux-meat products.

Oh, man. “Tofu tastes just like steak!” Reading the OP blasted me back to the 70s so fast I got dizzy, and when I opened my eyes I had to look down to make sure I wasn’t wearing one of those polyester blouses with the narrow shoulders and the pointy collars.

Tofu? There’s lots of protein in it, so just close your eyes and swallow.


Tasty Bite? I buy those at Trader Joe’s. My favorites are the spinach one (can’t remember the name), the Punjab Eggplant, the Bombay Potatoes and the Madras Lentils. Yummy! I get some strange looks when I’m in thebreak room at work squeezing a gooeygreen mess out of a foil envelope into a microwave-safe bowl, though. I shouldn’t be surprised at the reaction, since there are quite a few “meat-n-potatoes” folks here at work, but sometimes I get annoyed anyway.

BTW: How long would one have to soak TSP in order to make chili or the like? Would you have to soak it at all? I have about 2 cups of it at home, which I bought on a whim, but am now not sure what to do with it.
(I had my hand slapped for calling it TVP recently. Apparently TVP is a registered trademark of some corporation. Harumph!)

The real trick with tofu is to freeze it solid and then thaw it out before you cook with it. That’ll greatly improve the texture.

Also, IMO, you have to marinade it overnight, not for just a few hours (not sure how long you marinaded your faux steak.)

I agree with cher3, though: you should not expect tofu to taste like meat. It doesn’t. But it can taste good, if it’s prepared correctly. The exception to the “it doesn’t taste like meat” rule is the tofu hotdog. I’m a meat-eater, and as far as I’m concerned, once you cook the tofu dog, smother it with sauerkraut, fried onions, and mustard, it actually tastes better than a meat hot dog. I miss those chunks of snout, though.

For the record, I was raised by a vegetarian (my Mother quit eating meat in the 1940s) and I’m currently married to a vegetarian, and I like tofu better than either of them.

Alton Brown (Food TV: Good Eats) recently did a show on the miracle food–tofu. Tofu is magical because it takes on so well the flavors with which it is combined. The texture is unique and straight tofu can have an after taste.

Here are a few good recipes to experiment with:

Shanghai Grilled Tofu
Marinated Tofu Kabobs (The marinade is good even if you don’t make kabobs out of your tofu!)
Tofu Cacciatore
Katie’s Tofu Pasta Sauce
Gingered Greens & Tofu (This one made us to like kale as well as tofu!)

And, slightly off the meat’en path…from London_Calling’s thread “Recipe Corner - Liquidising Fruits,” a recipe for Tofu-Fruit Smoothies

(If I have some more time later, I’ll type up my recipe for Tempeh Stroganoff; it’s a basic stroganoff recipe minus the meat with braised or sauted tempeh in it’s place, but I’ll provide more details when I have a chance…that is, if anyone is REALLY interested.)

<snicker> That’s where I got the recipe, except that I didn’t fry it, I pan-grilled it. Alton Brown rocks, but he LIED about the tofu texture :frowning:

Thanks for the recipes, most of 'em look great (and I’ll be trying the Tofu Pasta Sauce soon).

Can you by Tempeh in a regular supermarket? A health-food store? Would it be with the tofu? Like I said, the taste of tofu didn’t bother me, but I hated the texture and Tempeh sounds like a much better substitute.



Mmmmm…Tasty Bites! Japanese food packageing technology from heaven!

But seriously Fenris, I think you are making a mistake that a lot of people trying to cut down on (or eliminate) meat consumption make. Forget tofu, my friend. It’s wierd and slimy and take mad magic skills to cook. I’ve had good tofu, but I have never managed to cook good tofu. A lot of new and prospective veggies have come up to me distressed, wondering what they were going to eat. I am sure that images of gelatonous tofu cubes and dirt covered sprout salads were marching in their heads. The truth is that cutting down on meat is not the massive diet paradigm shift that people make it out to be.

What do veggies eat? The same things that everyone else eats. I eat burritos and lasagne (and pasta of all kinds), Thai food, Indian food, all kinds of stir-fry, sandwiches, pizza, lots of bean dishes and nearly everything else that meat eaters eat, except for the slabs of steak. Don’t worry about fake meat yet. It is just going to disappoint you. Instead focus on cooking meatless (or meatless versions of) dishes that you already enjoy. could recomend some good cookbooks out there, but truthfully most of the recipes I use come from normal omnivorous cookbooks.

Don’t worry too much about protein and other health scares. As long as you eat a reasonably varied diet you should get all the nutrients you need. If you are really concerned, make an extra effort to eat beans. Now veganism is a whole other story, one I don’t want to get into…but if you are simply making a few meatless meals a week, you should be fine.

Perhaps one day you will find meat subsitutes that you like (like chik patties…mmmmm chik patties). On the whole, however, they are expensive, grotty and entirely unmeat like. Fortunately there is a whole yummy world of naturally meatless dishes to enjoy. Have fun!

Making tofu can be difficult for the uninitiated. That said, here’s a recipe that always turns out well for me.

Make yourself a good mixed vegetable stir fry in one pan. While you are cutting up the vegetables for the stir fry process the tofu thusly:[ul][li]Be sure to use firm tofu. Medium and soft curds will break up too quickly and often have a less than pleasing texture.[/li]
[li]Heat some vegetable oil in a skillet.[/li]
[li]Slice the tofu into ¼"-½" thick slabs.[/li]
[li]Pan fry over medium heat.[/li]
[li]When the tofu begins to brown, add some roasted sesame oil.[/li]
[li]Turn the pieces carefully and continue browning.[/li]
[li]When both sides are a golden brown add some tamari or dark soy sauce.[/li]
[li]Quickly finish and place on top of your vegetable stir fry.[/li]
[li]Serve immediately.[/ul][/li]Try a mushroom flavored soy or teriyaki for a change-up. Garnish with chopped green onions. Try and find some aji oil which is made with roasted sesame oil and hot chilis. Avoid any that are cut with cottenseed or soy oils. Caramelized onions go nicely with the fried tofu as well.

Please do, I’ve got a pack in the freezer and I’m not sure what to do with it.