Tofu are soft cheese-like curds derived from the processing of soya milk with a coagulant, which are then pressed down into white blocks. They are usually sold in stores water-packed in sealed containers or aseptic cartons.
A staple in Asian cookery, tofu are a very affordable yet delicious and versatile protein source. They have a bland, neutral taste and come with a range of texture (silken, soft and firm), making them easy to incorporate in both sweet and savory applications. Below are my favorite ways to use tofu:
- Ginisang Togi at Tokwa-a light yet satisfying veggie stir-fry made with tofu cubes and crisp bean sprouts
- Lugaw at Tokwa-crunchy tofu make a delightful topping for congee
- Tokwa’t Baboy-succulent pork pieces and freshly-fried tofu are tossed in a tangy, spicy vinaigrette dressing
Here are a few tips on how to fry tofu:
- For better frying, make sure to drain tofu well from the packing liquid. I usually wrap the tofu block in a thick layer of paper towels, set it over a wire rack and weigh it down with a saucer or bowl for about 15 to 20 minutes to extract moisture.
- Cut tofu in uniform size to ensure even cooking.
- Depending on the recipe, tofu can be pan- or deep-fried. If pan-frying, swirl oil to fully coat bottom of pan. Heat until oil begins to shimmer and add tofu pieces in a single layer. Allow to lightly brown before turning to prevent tofu from falling apart. If deep-frying, make sure the frying oil is of proper temperature to prevent tofu from sticking and absorbing too much grease. Oil should be very hot but not smoking or tofu will burn before fully crisping. Use enough oil so the tofu floats in the oil. Do not overcrowd pan and allow enough room to easily toss the tofu in the oil to evenly brown.
- 1 (12 ounces) package tofu
- Remove tofu from packaging and drain from packing liquid. Wrap in paper towels, set over a wire rack or colander and weigh down with a saucer or cup for about 15 to 20 minutes to extract moisture. Cut into 1-inch cubes.
- In a pan over medium heat, add about 2 tablespoons of oil and swirl to fully coat bottom of pan. Heat until oil begins to shimmer but not smoking. Add tofu in a single layer and cook until it begins to crisp, then turn. to brown other side. WAIT until tofu begins to brown before turning or they will stick to pan and fall apart. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
- Alternatively, in deep, wide pan, heat about 2-inches deep of oil until very hot but not smoking. Add tofu in batches and cook, turning as needed, until golden and crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove from pan and drain on paper towels.