Navigating the Tofu Aisle
The gelatinous block of white curd pressed from coagulated soymilk is emblematic among vegetarian foodies, and despite facing stark opposition tofu has accelerated in popularity as a versatile meatless protein option. A closer look at the tofu section of the grocery store reveals that that not all of those white soy blocks are alike; the plastic wrappers describe their contents with words like silken, firm, and extra-firm, leaving many tofu-rookies scratching their heads. But hang in there! Here’s some clarification for future tofu endeavors:
"Regular" or “Block” Tofu
The most common type of tofu used in cooking is physically pressed into blocks; the amount of pressure and duration of pressing time coincide with the density of the tofu. Soft blocks lend luxurious texture to desserts and pureed sauces, but break easily when stir-fried and have too high a water content for safe deep-frying. Medium and Firm blocks are more versatile as they can stand up to a rigorous sauté or deep fryer dip, while toothsome Extra-Firm tofu, with its low water content, is particularly suited to be baked to ideal crispness.
This Japanese-style tofu is neither pressed nor drained, leaving it with a much higher water content than block tofu and a more delicate texture. The density of silken tofu depends on its composition of soy protein, and described in the same way to block tofu as Soft, Firm and Extra-Firm. Soft silken tofu has a particularly creamy texture, similar to yogurt or soft-cooked egg, and is best suited for sauces and smoothies. Firm and Extra-Firm silken tofu, while still soft and velvety, is more apt to retain its shape when boiled or lightly fried.
Want to try our seasonal Curried Chicken Breast with Bok Choy and Jasmine Rice but have a vegetarian at the dinner table? Tofu seamlessly takes chicken's place for savory meatless meal and a happy family all around!