Readers request: tofu


Question: I’ve seen you prepare tofu, but it doesn’t appear you cook it and you just use it as a smear on bread or something – is it okay to do that with tofu (not cook before eating)?

I am one of those weird people who thinks tofu tastes good plain.  But most people like it baked, fried, or cooked in some way. 

However, to answer your question, no, you don’t need to cook tofu.  When you buy it, technically it’s already been cooked.  Tofu is made by coagulating soy milk and pressing the resulting curds. 

The aseptically packaged tofu doesn’t have to be refrigerated until it’s opened, but all other forms of tofu should be refrigerated in their container.  Once opened, all types should be refrigerated.  You can keep them in water, but you should change it daily (it will keep for up to one week that way).

You can also freeze tofu (it should keep for up to five months this way), but this process will alter its texture and color.  It makes it more spongy, more absorbent, and more yellowish. 

I like to use silken tofu (in it’s uncooked form) when I make puddings, smoothies, faux egg salads, or spreads.  I probably use it this way the most frequently because it’s the quickest and easiest method (and I enjoy the flavor of tofu). 

I opt for baked tofu in salads or by itself.  When I go this route, I usually pre-marinate it, even if it’s simply with sesame oil or soy sauce.  I have various tutorials if you want more info on that, but it’s the same method as veggies (350 degrees for 30 minutes).

Another method I’m a fan of is sautéing tofu.  Like uncooked tofu, this is a quick option.  It only takes 10 minutes with a little oil on high heat to start to bronze.  It’s important to choose the right texture depending on what you want though.  In a stir-fry, you’ll want extra firm if you’re looking for it to hold it’s form.  If you cook it with veggies, they take almost the same amount of time to cook.  Add some kind of sauce or marinade in at the end and voila, your meal is done.

If you want to make a mock egg scramble, you can still sauté the tofu, but you should choose a less firm variety. 

Silken tofu is also a good stand in for eggs in vegan baking.

As you can see, tofu is like the Meryl Streep of ingredients.  It works well in each and every role! 

Here are a few tofu recipes for you:

sweet tofu & squash quinoa (v, gf)  <— baking tutorial post

perfect puddin’ (v, gf)

vegan cheesecake (v, gf)

caprese caesar pasta salad (v)

tofu Thai stir-fry (v, gf)

egg-less “egg” salad (v)

More recipes here

Hope that helps!  Now go get your ‘fu on!!

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Comments (21)

  1. Amanda

    I’m a relatively new reader of your blog, and I love it! I am concerned, however, about tofu in the first place. And don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy tofu, especially when organic, healthy, meat, produced in the most earth- and animal-friendly way isn’t possible. However, I was wondering what you think about all the negative claims about tofu that have been around for years. I am not anti-soy; I believe tempeh and edamame are great for you, but I’ve just been hearing so many really dangerous possible side-effects from eating too much processed soy, such as in tofu and soy milk. Thoughts?


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  3. Caity @ Moi Contre La Vie

    Good post, thanks for all of the ideas. Your BBQ tofu is one of my favorite ways to eat it!

  4. Sarah B @ Bake + Bike

    So many tofu ideas! I occasionally eat it plain too…even though my roommates make fun of me.

  5. Katie

    So versatile! Thanks for all the good ideas!

  6. Juliane @ C'est moi à Paris

    Haha, love the Meryl Streep comparison!

  7. Kaitlyn

    I was at Whole Foods yesterday and they had a mulled apple cider tofu. They used mulling spices along with some additional ingredients – it was so good!

  8. Katie @ Peace Love & Oats

    This makes me miss tofu! I love it but I found out I can’t eat soy…

  9. Mimi

    Love the ‘fu! Some people think it is difficult to prepare but it really is not! It is so simple and so versatile! Thanks for the recipes!

  10. Lou

    tofu = love

  11. sophia

    I’m an Asian who has little love for tofu…but when cooked right, it can seriously be SO good. Have you tried bean curd desserts before? It’s just fresh silky bean curd doused in a syrup that is eaten as breakfast or snack.

  12. Emily

    Yeeee! Tofu and tempeh are such staples in my diet. Thank you for the information and the new recipe ideas. 🙂

  13. Elaine

    just made a tofu stir fry last night – YUM! thanks for answering another one of my Qs 🙂 i didn’t know you could freeze tofu – i’ll have to try that the next time it’s on sale. thanks again!!

  14. mom

    As Elise knows, silken tofu is a perfect baby food. She grew up eating it all the time. Loved it as a main course when mixed with veggie baby food (Elise’s fav was spinach) and as a snack when mixed with mashed fruit (Elise loved peach and plum).

  15. Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli

    “Tofu is made by coagulating soy milk and pressing the resulting curds.” <- Mmm, sounds appetizing, no? 😉

    I actually just tried uncooked tofu the other day when I was sauteeing up some coating in BBQ seasoning (you know, for my PB&J oddities) and I thought it was pretty good! But I love sauteeing since it gets that light crust on the outside! Mmm!

  16. Elise (Post author)

    im not too concerned. ive heard the arguments, but i think thats more for the processed forms. corn and soy ingredients have infiltrated all processed packaged goods, so i think thats where the main arguments could be made…but i personally have no problems with any soy in a pure form, including tofu.

  17. Elise (Post author)

    sounds so good!! i bet i would love it.

  18. Sandy

    Hi Elise,
    I am completely new to FODMAPS and basically also very confused as all the FODMAP lists I found on the net seem to be contradictive with what is classed as good or bad. Unfortunately Soya / Tofu has appeared also on the bad side of the list but I am a vegan and have recently discovered that what I thought was a carbohydrate intolerance is far mor complex e.g. all sugars, also glucose. Do you have a list that is more scientifically and has all the important foods for vegans on? Love your side by the way. I have still got a long way to go before I can even run again. I put on 30 kg as I didn’t knwo for over 8 years what was causing all my problems even to a point were I got diagnosed with ME and nearly landed in a wheel chair. I started self medicating with thyroid tabletts just to be able to cope with a full week of work. But I now think with the right diet plan I will be able to turn my life around. Thanks, Sandy

  19. Elise (Post author)

    hi sandy. i first have to say (as a nurse) that you should never self diagnose w thyroid meds. they can seriously affect your heart rate and definitely arent to be tweaked without an MD.

    as far as fodmaps are concerned. i have a list here:

    but there was recently a new monash booklet published. its more current but doesnt have specific amounts of the fodmaps in each carb listed. i posted a site that can help w that on the post i linked to above though.

    hope that helps.

  20. Katelin

    As a nurse, how often do you recommend soy product consumption in a duration of a week? I’ve noticed a difference in my moods (and with other areas) when I eat soy often. I know it has a small amount of estrogen, but I’m under a 120 pounds… and I was wondering if the natural soy estrogen was something to consume once a week or less.

  21. Elise (Post author)

    honestly, my knowledge about dietary / nutrition related matters is unrelated to my nursing degree. i learned the very basics (but nothing in depth) from various courses in nursing school but i’d definitely defer to an RD in terms of professional opinion. that said, I’ve done a ton of research on my own that gives me confidence that my knowledge is substantial enough to back my own decisions. i hesitate giving advice to others though.
    i eat soy and i have never found a reliable study that linked soy consumption to hormonal imbalances. i like tofu, tempeh, edamame, and other (minimally processed) forms of soy regularly. i don’t see a problem with it. there’s a big difference between those forms of soy and the crap hidden in processed food. i feel like thats the kind of soy that could affect hormones – but maybe its not the soy but the other crap in processed food.
    for the record, when i was pregnant i asked my MD about soy and its effect on estrogen and my little fetus and he said there was nothing to worry about and i didn’t have to monitor my soy whatsoever. hope that helps.

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