Banish bland tofu by giving it the freeze. As the water-rich tofu freezes, ice crystals form and swell. When you thaw and press it, much of the water drains away, leaving space for marinades and a meatier texture. I thought this was a vintage hippy technique, but it turns out that Japanese and Chinese cooks have been freezing tofu for centuries.
How can you use frozen and pressed tofu?
- Grill slabs for a main dish
- Bake cubes to top a main-dish salad or grains bowl
- Crumble and cook in a skillet with onions and peppers to tuck into tacos
See my recipe for tofu marinated in barbecue sauce. Or skip the marinade and stir crumbles right into stews and chili, where they will soak up the surrounding sauce.
What’s so great about frozen and pressed tofu?
- Thrifty ($2.08 a pound organic or about 42 cents a serving)
- Convenient (freeze it today, use it within a year)
- Meaty but not meat
- Very few ingredients
- Good source of protein, calcium, iron, and fiber
- Weirdly enough, a serving of tofu probably has less soy than a serving of beef.
- Slice tofu crossways into six slabs and put them in a single layer in a freezer-safe container or baking pan. Cover and freeze until frozen through, at least four hours. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or for about two hours on a counter.
- Fold a smooth, clean kitchen towel in half and put it on a plate. Press thawed tofu gently with your fingers to remove some liquid, then arrange in a single layer on the towel. Fold the towel edges up to cover the tofu. Top with a heavy weight. I use a cast-iron skillet filled with jars full of dried beans, with a layer of foil between the towel and the cast-iron pan, so it doesn't rust. Let the weight press liquid out of the tofu for about two hours, replacing the towel with a fresh dry one after about an hour.
- Your tofu is ready to cube, crumble, or marinate as is! If you don't plan to use it right away, refrigerate for up to five days.