All About Tofu
Not all tofu is created equal, and it's more versatile than you think. Here are the types you'll find and how to use them.
Tofu is made by skimming the curds from soy milk, and the texture is controlled by the amount of water that is pressed and removed from the curds.
Extra-firm tofu, a Chinese-style tofu, is pressed to remove as much liquid as possible, leaving firm, ready-to-eat cakes that hold their shape. These cakes can be treated much like meat and can be marinated, sautéed, grilled, and more. Because extra-firm tofu is sold immersed in water, press the cakes again before using to remove any additional liquid. This helps the tofu absorb maximum flavor.
Firm tofu, a cross between Japanese-style tofu and Chinese-style pressed tofu, holds its shape during slicing and stir-frying. But, because it's softer than extra-firm, it works well in dips, spreads, sauces, and soups. Before using, blot away any excess surface liquid, but do so with a light hand — heavy pressing will cause it to crumble.
Silken tofu, or Japanese-style tofu, isn't pressed at all, so it's softer, whiter, and more delicate in flavor than Chinese-style. It's typically pasteurized and then sold in aseptic packaging so it's shelf stable. Because of its soft texture, it works well in creamy dishes.