Pressing Tofu

One of the biggest mistakes people make with tofu is to open the package, drain it, and use it. One of the bazillions of things I learned from watching Alton Brown is that you will like your tofu more if you press it first.

To press tofu, you'll need a pound block of firm or extra firm tofu, at least four paper towels, two plates, a couple of heavy cans, and about 20-30 minutes at a minimum.


Halve the tofu lengthwise. Just bisect it through the short parts of the rectangle, taking care to cut evenly.


Place the tofu, cut-side down, on 2-3 paper towels on one of the plates. Place another couple of paper towels on top of the tofu. Place the second plate on top of those paper towels. Weigh the whole thing down with the cans.


Kill 20-30 minutes. At this point, a bunch of water will have moved from the tofu into the paper towels. This will firm up the tofu even more, and make it even more receptive to sauces and marinades.


If you have the time, and you want the tofu to be even firmer and drier, you can repeat the whole process with fresh paper towels one more time.



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Wrong about the tofu!

Sorry, but your advice about tofu is wrong, wrong, wrong!
First: *never* use firm tofu. It's an abomination created for idiot americans who think that tofu is supposed to be a meat replacement. The ingredient that hardens tofu is, basically, plaster of paris, and it tastes awful. The firmness of the tofu is determined by how much of it is added to the soy milk - so firm has lots of the bad-tasting stuff.
Second: don't press it for a long time. If you're using a good-quality tofu, it's got a natural texture and flavor which you don't want to wreck. Pressing it to get all of the water out just trashes the texture, and will make it *over*absorb flavors. If you're using lousy tofu, you want to cover up its flavor as much as possible. But if you're using *good* tofu, you want the flavor of the marinade/sauce to *combine with* the natural flavor of the tofu, not replace it.
Third and most important: buy good tofu. The tofu from American grocery stores (natoya and friends) is *terrible*. I can't even begin to quantify how much damage those grocery store bricks have done to the reputation of tofu. Most people who claim to hate tofu have never actually tasted a good one. It's like if the only beef you ever got to taste was a stale reheated McDonald's hamburger. Go to an asian grocery store, and they've got great big tubs of water with fresh tofu floating in it. Get *that* stuff. Not only does it taste 100 times better, it costs 1/4th the price.
(Sorry to be so negative in my first comment, but I'm married to a *huge* tofu fan, and she's managed to convert me to the wonders of tofu. And so now I love tofu with the zeal of a convert!)

Negative is fine.

But keep in mind that yesterday's article was largely aimed at "idiot Americans" who want to use tofu as a meat replacement. Partly because I was covering a casual, everyday type of dish, and partly because my actual cooking experience with tofu is limited, and I'm not trying to provide the definitive viewpoint on anything here, just my current viewpoint.
So you may well be right. But consider that you also came rolling in on a wave of foodie snobbery that alienates more than it converts. Fact of the matter is, nobody's first experience with tofu is going to be fresh out of a fucking bucket in an Asian grocery. Hell, we have several very good Asian groceries in the Twin Cities, and I don't recall ever seeing buckets of fresh tofu in United Noodle.
With any food, people's entry point is going to be different from their exit point. And odds are, that entry point is going to be one of convenience. I was buying phosphate-brined pork loin from the supermarket long before I decided to buy half a pig. There is value in being able to make the best out of a mediocre ingredient when the good stuff is difficult to obtain.

Now, that said...

Making a good Korean soup demands a nice tube of soft tofu from an Asian market.  Drop that beauty out into a steaming pot with broth, mushrooms, egg, greens, and other delicious Koreo-bits, and you've got goodness.
But that's further down the road.  Past the Rectangular Solid Onramp.

From what I've seen, the

From what I've seen, the Asian supermarkets here in the Seattle area mostly sell the same basic tofu as in regular supermarkets, albeit at a lower price.  The tubs full of water are generally reserved for selling live seafood. ;)

Surely it depends  on what

Surely it depends  on what the tofu is being used for?  I mostly do stir-fries, usually on a grill wok, and soft tofu just doesn't hold together under that kind of treatment.

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