If you recently discovered tofu and want some ideas about ways to cook it, this post is definitely for you. If you think you dislike tofu, this post is also for you. After all, it used to be the case for me until this year… It’s never too late to change your mind. And if you’re a tofu lover and already an expert, keep reading… You might still be inspired, who knows!
First of all, it’s important to keep an open mind when you try something new (especially when it comes to food). I used to really dislike tofu, but it plays a huge part in a plant-based diet. I had to ignore my childhood’s memories and at least give it another go as an adult. The first time I cooked with it was a complete fail… It took me 2 or 3 attempts before I mastered it. But I persisted, and now I’m glad I didn’t give up so easily.
What is tofu?
Tofu is made from dried soybeans that are soaked in water, crushed, and boiled. Then the curdled fresh soya milk is pressed into a solid block and cooled… It’s not far from the process used for dairy cheese, made by curdling and solidifying milk. Except it’s healthier for you! This solid white block comes in varying softness: it can be silken, soft, firm, or extra firm.
It’s a great source of protein, probably one of the main reasons why it’s such a staple in a vegetarian / vegan diet. It also contains all nine essential amino acids, as well as magnesium, copper and zinc. In addition to this, tofu is a valuable plant source of iron and calcium. Can we say it’s healthier than meat? Yes, because just like meat, soy provides an excellent source of protein, vitamins and minerals – but without the cholesterol and saturated fat. Not to mention it’s a lot lower in calories. Basically, it can replace foods that may compromise your health.
Cooking with tofu
Tofu is pretty bland on its own, which makes it a very versatile ingredient. It will soak in any flavours you want to give it. But it could be a bit intimidating for beginners: how do you learn how to cook with it? Trying with my own ingredients didn’t work well, I had no idea what sauce and/or spice to add with it. So I decided to try a recipe box to give me a good basic knowledge, using Mindful Chef. They have a good range of recipes and you get delivered the exact quantities you need for each ingredient. It’s really convenient when you’re not sure what you’re doing at the beginning.
Below are 3 ways to cook tofu I recently learnt, thanks to them. I have to say I was really impressed with the results. Maybe it tasted even better because I put the effort in… For the 3 recipes below, indicated quantities are always for 2 people. I used the organic super-firm tofu from Dragonfly (300g) each time, which is really easy to find in any supermarket.
1. Tofu & apricot harissa tagine with quinoa
Here, it’s the apricot harissa that gives the main flavour to the dish. The method is simple: cut the tofu in cubes and add to a pan on medium-high heat with 1/2 tbsp oil. Cook for 3-4 minutes to briefly colour all sides. Then you can add the sauce you mixed beforehand: 2 large diced tomatoes, 2 tbsp tomato puree, 2 tbsp apricot harissa paste and 50ml boiled water. It melts in the mouth and the after taste is the right mix of tomato and spice.
Add a bit of coriander if you like, and 20g of flaked almonds for the presentation. For the sides: 180g of green beans and 250g of quinoa are a good option. Total calories per person: 586.
2. Mexican-style beans with scrambled tofu & avocado
Eggs are not part of a plant-based diet, so I was really excited to try the tofu version. You just have to scramble it into small pieces with your fingers. Then cook it in a pan on medium heat with 1/2 tbsp oil. Stir for 10 minutes with a pinch of black pepper and 1/2 tsp turmeric, until it turns golden. Then add in 1 tbsp nutritional yeast and a pinch of chilli flakes. It tastes amazing!
The other ingredients added many colours on the plate and made the entire meal very appealing. You need 1 avocado and 120g baby plum tomatoes mixed with a handful of fresh coriander. For the Mexican-style beans: 240g kidney beans, 1 tbsp Mexican spice, 4 tbsp tomato puree and 40g baby spinach. Total calories per person: 573.
3. Sesame tofu & rice bowl
Finally, if you fancy a salad-type meal, this recipe is great and doesn’t require much cooking. Tofu is cooked like in the first recipe but cut in triangles instead (or whatever shape you fancy, after all). For the dressing: peel and grate 4cm fresh ginger and add 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp maple syrup and 1 tbsp rice vinegar. Mix well and add in the saucepan once the tofu has turned golden in colour.
Simply cook 250g brown basmati rice for the base. And for the rest of the salad: grate 100g carrot, thinly slice 1 baby cucumber and 60g radishes. You could also add some kimchi or anything else you want. Sprinkle some sesame seeds for the final touch. That’s it! Total calories per person: 481.
Do any of these 3 recipes take your fancy?
Big Girl x