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What Can I Do With Tofu?

The way I see it, there are two types of tofu recipes:

  • Recipes in which tofu is a mystery ingredient – you might not even know it's in there.
  • Recipes that feature tofu, unapologetically, in all its glory.

I tend to favor the latter types of tofu recipes, but there are times when the gel-like texture of tofu can be blended in to add creaminess and thickness to a dish. There are also times when tofu can act as a filler to extend other, more expensive ingredients, like ground sirloin in a meatloaf.

The tofu recipes below include both kinds of tofu dishes. Try them and see which you prefer.

What Kind of Tofu Should I Buy?

When standing at the refrigerated produce section of your grocery store, you might be surprised to see how many types of tofu there are: "extra firm," "firm," "soft," and "silken." You’ll want to stick with the type your recipe calls for since there is a major texture difference between the two extremes.

Basically, you want to buy the extra firm or firm tofu if you want the tofu to hold its shape – if you plan to marinate and broil or bake your tofu in slices, or if you are dicing and stir-frying it. If you're blending the tofu with other ingredients to make a smoothie, creamy filling, or spread, or you're using it as a fat replacement in batter or a ground meat dish, you'll want to use the softer or silken tofu.

Here's a primer on the various types of tofu:

  • Silken. Use this as a creamy, thickening ingredient in smoothies, soups, pasta dishes, dressings and sauces, or as a substitute for mayonnaise or sour cream in some recipes. You'll need a blender or food processor.        
  • Soft. This is halfway between "silken" and "firm" tofu. Crumble it and use in recipes as an extender or substitute for scrambled eggs, cream cheese, ricotta cheese, or cottage cheese.
  • Firm or Extra-Firm. This type of tofu holds its shape well. It's great for grilling, baking, sauteing or stir-frying.

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