Sunday, June 17, 2007

That jiggly stuff called “tofu”

Okay, so maybe tofu as usually represented by the uninitiated should be called “tof-ewww,” but really, if you prepare it right, it’s delish. (It’s also expensive for this lazy vegan’s price range, so I don’t use it much, only as an occasional treat, but anyway.)

If you really, really don’t even want to try it, it’s okay. You have plenty of options out there, like TVP, that taste much more like meat without any preparation or at best minimal preparation. But if you’re just curious and do want to try it, don’t be put off if you don’t like it as it is right out of the package by itself. I don’t, either. So what’s it good for?

If you want to use it as a meat substitute in something like a stirfry or casserole, take the block of tofu you got from the store and stick it in the freezer overnight, in its original packaging. Then take it out, thaw it completely (usually takes a few hours, depending on the size of the block), rinse it thoroughly, and squeeze the extra water out. This will change its consistency from that of cream cheese to a chewy, meat-like texture. When I’ve used it in casseroles sometimes, people have thought it was chicken, for example, and didn’t even know it was tofu.

If you want a soft creamy tofu to use in something like a cheesecake (which tofu works wonderfully in as a complete sub or partial replacement for cream cheese), you’ll need to use it as is. (If you freeze it, its texture will change to a chewy one and won’t work.) In that case, take it out of the package and give it a gentle rinse, then just substitute equal amounts of tofu for cream cheese, etc.

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