The Biggest Mistake You're Making With Tofu

Tofu is a staple protein for many vegetarians and vegans, but the soy product often gets an unnecessarily-bad rap. If tofu is not cooked properly, it usually turns out bland, soft, and soggy. But, when cooked right, tofu can also explode with flavor and be delightfully crispy. It just takes a bit of practice and the right techniques.

How the tofu is initially prepared and cooked is very important. One of the most common mistakes when preparing tofu is failing to press out the water in it. Before the tofu can be seasoned or cooked, it must be wrapped in a kitchen towel or paper towel, and pressed with something heavy (like a book or pan) for up to half an hour to remove any excess water that the tofu is packaged with (via All Recipes).

Another key to preparing tofu well is to season it with spices or a marinade. Another way to maximize the seasoning potential of your tofu is to cut it properly. Slicing the tofu into 1- or 2-inch cubes creates more surface area for the seasoning to stick to, or for the marinade to seep into. And that's how you keep tofu from tasting bland and boring.

How you should be cooking tofu to make it delicious

Another mistake people often make when cooking tofu: Using flour to coat it with the goal of making the tofu cook crisply. Flour gets soggy easily though, so you should be using starch. Think corn, potato, and tapioca starch to cook up tofu magic. It's also important to use enough starch and oil to fry the tofu crisply enough to enjoy. Tofu tends to absorb some of the oil, so it will likely need more than you think.

Meanwhile, you don't want to use oil in a marinade. Even after pressing out as much water as you can, there will always be some water left inside the tofu. So, if oil is in a marinade, the combination with the water will form a barrier and keep the marinade from fully seeping into the tofu (via Taste of Home). Remember that even with marinades that do not include oil, it is important for the tofu to sit in the marinade for at least half an hour. Ideally, tofu should marinate for a few hours, or even overnight to produce a maximum flavor.

Ready to try your hand at tofu prep again? Good luck!