How To Marinade Your Tofu: Tips and Tricks

<This is a contributed post> Aah, tofu. What a strange dish. Who would have thought that condensed soy milk pressed into a block would have limitless uses? On its own, it may not be considered the most exciting ingredient, this vegan, protein packed-packed, low-carb, versatile component of hundreds of dishes worldwide deserves to be treated properly.

From smoothies to stir-fries, from mousses to curries, many dishes incorporate tofu. However, if you want to really accentuate this ingredient or even serve it as the main course, there are a few tips to do it right.

Tofu is essentially an edible sponge. When first unpacked, it will full of water. When this water is drained, it is then free to absorb the flavors of whatever it is combined with. With this in mind, it is logical why marinating the tofu is one of the essential steps to preparing a flavorful dish.

We often think of marinating meats and fish, but why not tofu? Tofu is literally built to absorb. This is a commonly missed step by many, yet perhaps one of the most crucial. So here are some other common mistakes made when preparing tofu and instructions on how to marinate properly.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

Selecting the tofu

The wrong way

Believe it or not, not all tofu is the same. There are 4 types of tofu: silken, soft, firm, extra-firm. Inexperienced chefs may think these are interchangeable, but this could not be more wrong. The main difference between the 4 types of tofu is their water content – silken having the highest and extra-firm having the lowest.

The right way

Be sure to select the right tofu for your dish. If you need it to blend into a paste or almost liquid form, silken is your best bet. If you need it to hold its shape through dicing and frying, the firmer, the better.

Preparing the tofu

The wrong way

There are many mistakes made here; perhaps the biggest is leaving the tofu full of liquid and simply adding it to the dish. As mentioned above, tofu is a sponge. Imagine trying to add dish soap to a sponge that is already soaked? This is not a very effective approach.

The right way

It is not hard to simply press your tofu before beginning the preparation for your cooking. This can be done very quickly and conveniently using a tofu press, or in a pinch, by using some paper towels and some heavy plates.

This is the best way to prepare your tofu for whatever is the next step in the process. You squeeze out all that liquid to get it ready to soak up any sauces or flavors thrown its way.

Cooking the tofu

The wrong way

Tofu in some cases is a lot like cheese. In fact, it is even produced by a similar process. Tofu can be eaten raw and often is, but it is important to follow the proper cooking methods if that is not the goal.

The right way

Tofu should be cooked at decently high heat for about 5 minutes on each side. Don’t be afraid of the heat or keeping the tofu cooking a little longer. This should also be done in a non-stick pan to avoid losing any of the crispy outer layer in the process.

How to marinate: the only way

  • Pick the right type. In this case, extra-firm.
  • Press! Grab your tofu press and let it sit for 15-20 minutes to get all that excess liquid out of there.
  • Prepare the marinade. While it’s pressing is the perfect time to get your marinade ready.
  • Dice. While this is not a necessary step, the smaller the pieces, the better they will absorb the marinade.
  • Leave it. The tofu should now be left for at least 24 hours. Let that sponge do its thing!
  • Cook it up. Bake, fry, saute, whatever your means, follow these first 5 steps and proper cooking directions for the most flavorful tofu you have served.

Final word

Who says healthy eating has to be boring? Follow these steps, and there are countless applications for your tofu. Try experimenting with different marinades and spices or combining the tofu with different ingredients or side dishes. The combinations and possibilities are endless.

There is a reason this is a staple in international cuisine for centuries. Time to bring it to your kitchen table in all its glory!


BakingBar was launched in 2010 to provide simple and straightforward baking guides and recipes. BakingBar are currently recipe developers for Neills Flour and MyProtein.

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