If you plan to make tofu steaks, tofu cutlets, tofu Parmesan, or any other dish that requires the tofu to be "toothy," you will need firm tofu. Either pressing or freezing tofu will make it firmer. Pressing tofu expels water from the curd, making it firmer. Pressing tofu also helps it absorb marinades better. Freezing tofu also expels water. When the water in tofu freezes, it separates from the curd. When it thaws, it drains off. Freezing tofu also makes it chewier, something most people find desirable if they are using tofu to replace meat in a recipe.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Dinner plates
- Towels, either paper or cloth
- Freezer bags
- Aluminium foil
Drain the tofu. Slice it into slabs. Make the slabs about half again as thick as you'd like your tofu cutlet to be.
Wrap the tofu slabs in towels. You can use several layers of paper towels or a couple of layers of a clean muslin dish towel or tea towel.
Place the tofu in the towels on a dinner plate. Place another dinner plate on top.
Press the tofu by placing something heavy on top of the top dinner plate. Some possibilities are a pot full of water, a heavy cast iron skillet, a rock, or a couple of large books.
Let the tofu sit for 15 minutes. Pour off any liquid in the plate and unwrap the tofu. The towels should be very wet and the tofu thinner and firmer.
Drain the tofu. Cut the tofu into slabs if you are going to make cutlets. If you are going to crumble the tofu, it can be frozen as one large chunk.
Wrap the tofu in something freezer-proof. You can use aluminium foil, or you can use freezer bags.
Put the tofu in the freezer overnight. You can leave it there longer if you wish, but make sure to leave it at least eight hours.
Thaw the tofu in the refrigerator. If you need it immediately, you can thaw it in the microwave on a gentle setting. To avoid unwanted bacteria growth, don't thaw it on the counter at room temperature.
Wrap the thawed tofu in a towel or paper towels and press it gently with your hands to push the water out of the curd. Once you've got most of the water out, you can crumble the tofu and then dab it a bit more with towels.
Tips and warnings
- Though pressing tofu can make it firmer, buying extra firm tofu in the first place is a more reliable method of getting a good quality product.
- Check your pressed tofu halfway through the pressing process. If you see it standing in water, you may need to remove the weight, change the towels, and replace the weight for the second half of the press.
- "Custard tofu" is not suitable for pressing. It is used as a base for soups, sauces, drinks, or anything else with a creamy texture. You can press firm, or extra firm tofu, but you can't press silken or custard. Be careful when buying "soft" tofu. Sometimes tofu labelled "soft" is a slightly softer regular tofu; sometimes it's custard tofu.
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