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What is tofu?

Tofu is naturally plant-based and is a great option for those who want extra plant points in their meals. Find out more about what tofu is and how to cook it, and explore our delicious recipe inspiration for all mealtime occasions, including a fun vegan dessert idea!

All you need to know about tofu

What is tofu made from?

Tofu, sometimes referred to as bean curd, is made from dried soybeans which are mixed with water and salt to form curds – these hold their shape and are pressed into blocks. Applying different amounts of pressure to the blocks allows the creation of tofu that’s either silky-soft or firm and meaty in texture. Silken tofu is softer because it has a higher water content than the firmer varieties.

What is tofu used for?

Tofu is a staple in East Asian cooking for dishes like curries and stir-fries. It is a wonderful option for vegetarian or vegan diets because it makes a great alternative to meat, being naturally plant-based and high in protein. You might see it as a replacement for scrambled eggs in an English breakfast or as a meat alternative in dishes like these wraps.

Where can I buy tofu?

You can find tofu in store or online. Silken tofu can be found in the dry goods aisle by the rice and noodles or the international section of a supermarket, whereas firmer tofu will be refrigerated.

Is tofu vegan?

Plain tofu is naturally vegan, but it is always best to read the labels of the packaging for different branded products (Tesco own-brand is 100% vegan).

Is tofu gluten-free?

Tofu is gluten-free, as the bean curds used to make it do not contain glutenous grains, so it is safe to consume if you have a gluten intolerance. However, some tofu products are marinated with ingredients such as soy sauce, which can contain gluten – as always, it is best to read the labels to be sure.

How long does tofu last in the fridge?

Once firm tofu has been opened it is best kept in the refrigerator and used within two days of opening or by the use-by date. Silken tofu is best stored in a cool, dry place in your kitchen cupboards. Once opened, it needs to be refrigerated and used within 1-2 days as per packet instructions. As always, we suggest reading the packaging, as each manufacturer’s instructions will differ.

Can you freeze tofu?

Some brands suggest firm and silken tofu can be frozen, however guidelines are that it may change the texture of the tofu once defrosted.

How to use tofu

While it is completely safe to eat raw tofu, its texture improves once cooked. Tofu is incredibly versatile and there are many ways you can cook with it. Not only is it a great replacement for meat, but you can also blend it into desserts or smoothies; cube it, slice it, crumble it, its unique texture allows for many ways of cooking to make tasty tofu dishes.

How to prepare tofu for cooking?

For some recipes, tofu needs to be pressed to drain all the liquid it holds, which helps when using seasonings or marinades as it has room to absorb the flavours. To press it, you can use a dedicated tofu press or, for a DIY version, wrap the tofu in kitchen roll and stack heavy items on top (tofu needs to be pressed for at least 30 minutes to have any effect). You can avoid having to press tofu by purchasing firmer varieties.

Try marinating tofu

When it comes to cooking with tofu, marinades are your best friend. The marinated tofu in this lettuce cups recipe is made with ginger, chili and garlic – the tofu tastes at its best left overnight to absorb those spicy flavours. And the tofu marinade in these wraps is made from a gently spiced tikka paste – leaving it overnight allows the tofu to soak up all the delicious flavour.

Try tofu dishes your family will love

Your family’s favourite dinners can be meat-free and still taste delicious. This baked tofu with ginger rice is a great stir-fry option – the tofu is coated in breadcrumbs for a moreish crispy crunch. Scrambled tofu at breakfast makes great leftovers to use in this Tex-Mex bowl recipe. Pimp it with spices and mix with beans for a quick weeknight dish.

Try tofu on the BBQ

There’s no need to miss out during the summer season, as barbecued tofu tastes delicious. Its firm texture holds its shape well and is a great veggie alternative for burgers and kebabs. Try something a little different and fire up the barbecue for these tofu and vegetable skewers or this barbecued tofu noodle salad, which has big smoky, charred flavours.

Give tofu desserts a try

A tofu dessert is perfect for a dairy- and egg-free sweet treat, as it can be blended to form a creamy texture. This chocolate and coconut torte has a velvety, chocolatey filling made from silken tofu, making it a gorgeous summer showstopper. Tofu is also a hidden ingredient in these speedy cheesecake pots. It’s mixed with melted chocolate and coconut yogurt for a smooth pudding that takes only 15 minutes to prep.

More amazing tofu recipes

Ready to start cooking up a storm with tofu? In these easy breakfast bagels, tofu is used as an alternative to bacon with a sweet and smoky marinade. Or try your hand at Southeast Asian cooking with this spicy vegan Thai green curry, which is a great source of protein.

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