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Ingredients & Flavours

August 30, 2004

How to cook tofu in a stir-fry

Today's question is from Rajesh Krishnamurthy, who is having problems with handling tofu. He writes:

I have always had problem with tofu, in that it crumbled or was too soft. I've tried frying it in a wok for a few minutes but not too happy with the results. Do you have any tips for that?

I have not one, but more tips for that. You're not the first person to ask me about that either. The first time I tried making tofu, I got the tofu equivalent of overcooked scrambled eggs. It took me a fair bit of research to figure out how to tame the darn thing.

Rajesh, I have no idea where you live, so I don't know what type of tofu you get in your part of the world. There are a fair few varieties of tofu you can find in the east. The most common varieties you'll find in shops here are the soft, silken tofu and the firm pressed tofu.

The silken tofu has a higher water content, is very fragile, and is best used in soups and salads. It has a mushy, creamy texture and has the consistency of a soft custard. It it totally unsuitable for stir-frying and will readily disintegrate if you stir-fry it. Are you sure this isn't the type you're buying? Ask if your shop has "firm tofu" or "pressed tofu".

The firm tofu feels fairly firm to the touch and can be cut into cubes relatively easily. This type has a smooth surface on the top of the blocks because it's been pressed to extract some of the excess water in it. (This, incidentally, also increases the protein content per kg of the tofu.) The tofu is fine for stir-frying as long as you don't cut into very small pieces or toss the living daylights out of it. If the tofu is sold packed in water, it most likely is the firm tofu.

What's that? Your supermarket sells only the silky type? Well, you'll just have to catch the next flight to the nearest Chinatown, won't you?

Yeah, right. OK, here's my quick-fix instead.

Read the rest of "How to cook tofu in a stir-fry"...

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