On Searing Tofu

I didn’t talk much about the tofu in the stir fry I posted about earlier this week and another one of its vices: its fragile form. Tofu falls apart really easy, even when working the extra firm kind. This stuff does not take a beating well and the stirring and tossing of making a stir fry will cause it to crumble. (Interesting Fact! Did you know the main difference between soft and firm tofu is simply the amount of water? Now you do!) There are a couple ways (that I know of) to make tofu more resilient, pressing more water out and giving it a quick sear. I decided to revisit this week’s stir fry with a seared tofu and then pressed & seared tofu.

Tofu Browning Tofu Tofu and Tamari

The searing was pretty straight forward. After taking half a block of tofu and cutting it into quarter inch pieces, I threw them in a pan under medium-high heat with a bit of oil. Thanks to the high water content of tofu there was quite a bit of spitting. I let it sit for a bit, checking occasionally for browning on the bottom as a sign that it was becoming a bit more stable, then tossed it with a tablespoon of tamari. I then continued to cook till browned on all sides. Between the tamari and browning, the tofu took on a nice flavor and was much firmer.

Quicker Browning

While I was working on the first half of tofu the second half was sitting in a colinder with a mid-size pot full of water resting on top. This was to press water out for about 45 minutes. Then I pretty much did the same thing as above. Still plenty of water for for spitting, but the browning was much quicker and deeper. In fact, I stepped away to wash a few dishes and got some burning very quickly!

Pressed Tofu Browned

Overall, I liked the second method for a stronger structure as well as a more significant taste. Both worked well and I may consider the first method for depending on what ingredients I’m adding it to and where I want it as a dominant ingredient or not.

A Bit Burnt

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3 Responses to “On Searing Tofu”

  1. Hello, tofu friend. You remember that chocolate tofu pie I’ve made a few times? When i beat the tofu it never gets completely smooth – I can always see little clumps and grains and I don’t like it!! Any suggestions?

  2. Chef Edwin says:

    You know, I actually bought some tofu for just that recipe this weekend. I’ll see how it turns out.

  3. Mmmm I love tofu. And it doesn’t surprise me at all that the watery tofu would take longer, because when you think about it, anytime you sear a protein they tell you to blot the top with a paper towel to get the excess moisture off in order to create that beautiful GBD (Golden, Brown and Delicious) exterior. Tofu is a protein, so it makes sense that getting rid of some of the moisture would help with browning.

    I’ve also heard that adding hoisin sauce can help with browning, because of the sugar content. But of course, using that with your tofu depends on what you plan on doing with it (i.e. tossing it in with Pad Thai would work well).

    You could probably use one of those wire mesh splatter guards to help with the spitting. I use it whenever I make fried green tomatoes. Yummmmmmm.

    Thanks for the post! Love your stuff!