July 09, 2022


Well, Friends, I have been vegan for almost six months now, and I decided it's time to try tofu--basically a rite of passage for vegans/vegetarians. I only say that because I grew up having no clue what tofu is and it always seemed at the top of the "weird foods" list to me; it's a very common ingredient for the most part, but it was completely new to me. But I was interested to try it!

After reading a ton of info about the best ways to prepare it, I ended up combining a prep method with someone else's recipe and then my own recipe, so this isn't really a review of one recipe like I normally do. This was more of an adventure in tofu.

First, I read on this site about how freezing and then thawing extra-firm tofu can give it a firmer, chewier texture that is closer to meat. I got this info from Plant Power Couple. I bought some extra-firm tofu, which looked like this:

I'd had it in the freezer for a couple of weeks (not necessary to freeze that long, but since I wasn't sure what to do with it yet, I just had it hanging out in the freezer). Then I thawed in the refrigerator overnight. When I opened it, there was no smell from it at all, which was a relief to me. The texture was just like a sponge--it was tempting to squeeze it hard to get all the water out!

Following the instructions from Plant Power Couple, I drained the tofu and then placed it between some paper towels and put "something heavy" on it. I used a Corningware dish and added some cans of beans to weigh it down more. The whole purpose of this is to remove as much liquid as possible from the tofu.

This is what it looked like right after setting the dish on top:

And about four hours later, after a couple of paper towel changes:

You can see how much it shrank from removing the excess liquid. From there, I cut it into cubes:

After this, per the same site, I made a marinade. For that, I followed the recipe for Sweet & Sour Marinade at Andi Anne.

It started looking really gross once it was in the marinade:

After about four hours, I started on the cooking process. From that point, I started following the recipe for Orange Tofu from Healthy Simple Yum. I wanted to make a batter for it to hopefully make the tofu more appealing to someone who has never eaten it (i.e. me). These ingredients are for the batter and the sauce:

The batter consists of flour, cornstarch, garlic powder, salt, and water. I messed this up a little by just coating it with the flour/cornstarch mixture and leaving out the water--I realized that just before I started cooking it, so I added a little water and tried to stir it in, but it just kind of made a goopy mess. I hoped it was good enough.

This was before adding the water

I didn't use all the oil called for (1/2 cup) to cook the tofu--I just used a couple of tablespoons. While I'm sure that much oil makes it very crispy and delicious, I just didn't feel good about pouring all that oil into the pan. Using the small amount I did actually worked very well:

It was really starting to look edible! I set the cooked tofu aside while I mixed the sauce ingredients and then brought it up to a simmer to thicken. The sauce was really good! I used less sugar than called for, though--the recipe said 1/3 to 1/2 cup, but I used 1/4 cup (and I wouldn't change that--I may use even less next time). This is the texture of the sauce before adding the tofu:

I dumped the tofu back into the pan with the sauce:

I was careful when stirring it together, because I was worried the tofu would crumble apart or something (it didn't). I cooked some basmati rice (yum!) and served the Orange Tofu on top of the rice.

Holy smokes--I have to say, tofu is the vegan ingredient that has surprised me the most so far! It was SO GOOD. It wasn't mushy at all--not the same texture as chicken, but very close--more like chicken nugget-type meat than chunks of chicken, if that makes sense.

The only thing I wished I could change was the amount of salt. It was right at my threshold of saltiness. I'm absolutely sure it's because I used the salty marinade followed by a salty sauce (I'm going to start using liquid coconut aminos instead of my usual tamari or liquid aminos to reduce the sodium in things like this). This was the "salty meal" that I was referring to on Wednesday when I said I knew my weight was going to be up for my weigh-in.

I have to say, though, that my family wasn't as crazy about the Orange Tofu as I was. They didn't dislike it, but they weren't raving about it either. The kids were comparing it to chicken, which I don't think is a fair comparison. They were saying that they liked the taste, but it's "not the same as chicken". Tofu and chicken couldn't be any different--tofu is made from soybeans while chicken is animal flesh--so trying to make one perfectly match the other just doesn't work.

When I said I wanted to get a meaty texture, it wasn't to try to match the texture of chicken, but to firm it up because soft tofu would gross me out. Regardless, I think if you eat it with the mindset that it's tofu and not chicken, it's easier to accept. Hopefully that makes sense!

Final thoughts:

A block of tofu is definitely going to be sitting in my freezer at all times. I will absolutely make it again using this cooking method.

In the future, I will use the advice of Plant Power Couple and use oil-based marinades rather than water-based ones. You're basically replacing the water you drained from the tofu with more water if you use a water-based marinade. While the texture wasn't what I would consider soft, I'd like to see if I can get an even firmer texture by using less liquid in the marinade. The marinade is important because it's what flavors the tofu itself.

I will definitely remember to add water to the batter before adding the tofu; it will be much easier to coat the pieces that way.

Again, at the advice of Plant Power Couple, I'll try baking it low and slow next time. (I'll use the convection oven, which is essentially an air fryer.)

Overall, I'm so glad that my first tofu adventure was a good one! I liked it so much that I'm marinating some more right now to make Lemon Pepper Tofu Cutlets from Plant Power Couple. I've never made tofu without freezing it first, but their freezer idea is perfect for me so I can just keep some in there all the time. The only problem is remembering to thaw it out by putting it in the fridge the day before.

Yay tofu! ;)

1 comment:

  1. You can actually just toss the tofu with some cornstarch, no need to make a batter. I've done that before. I have never marinated tofu, though. Sometimes I take extra firm tofu, cut it into triangles, dip them in liquid aminos and bake at 400, flipping once, until they're firm. My boys eat those up like cheese!


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