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How to cook with tofu 24th August 2018

What is tofu?

Tofu is essentially a solid block of soya milk which has been curdled. The ingredients used to solidify can be lemon juice or calcium or magnesium salts. Tofu has been used as a meat substitute for centuries and it has many other uses in vegetarian and vegan cookery. Although it is bland on its own, it absorbs flavour and, when prepared correctly, is a delicious ingredient.

It’s quite easy to make your own tofu. If you want to give it a go, we stock dried soya beans.

Types of tofu

Firm tofu

The big white blocks that are sold in plastic trays immersed in water are firm tofu. It may be described as medium firm or extra firm depending on the texture. This is the type that is particularly used in Chinese cookery as a meat substitute (you will often find it described as ‘bean curd’ on restaurant menus). If you are vegan, you need to be careful when ordering in Chinese restaurants as they sometimes make their own tofu and use egg as an ingredient.

Silken tofu

Silken tofu comes in Tetrapaks and is found in shops on the shelves rather than in the fridge. Silken tofu has a very smooth consistency and is wonderful for making sauces and desserts.

Try this recipe for vegan sour cream made from silken tofu.

Smoked and Flavoured tofu

Smoked tofu is flavoured with wood smoke. It has a meaty flavour which makes it great for savoury dishes.

Recently a lot of new flavoured tofu products have become available. These are fantastic in salads and sandwiches. Popular flavours include basil, sundried tomato, Black Forest and almond.

Braised tofu

Braised tofu has been marinated and cooked. It has a tough, meaty texture and a strong flavour that works well in stir fries. It comes in tins so it’s a handy thing to have in the kitchen cupboard.

How to cook tofu


Before you cook with tofu, you need to squeeze out the water. The best way to do this is with a tofu press. The press exerts an even pressure on the block of tofu and has a tray to collect the water, so it is mess and fuss free. If you don’t have a tofu press, you can wrap a block of tofu in a cloth and put a book on top. This is a bit more fiddly and less effective than using a press, but will do if you only occasionally cook with tofu.


Because tofu is bland and flavourless on its own, the main thing when cooking is to get some flavour into it. The best way to do this is to marinate the tofu so it can absorb flavour. A simple marinade can be made of vegetable oil, soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. You can also use liquid smoke, toasted sesame oil or liquid aminos. Put cubes or slices of tofu into a flat dish and pour the marinade over the top, making sure the tofu is covered all over. Leave it for half an hour. You might want to turn the tofu over half way through to make sure it evenly flavoured.

The freezing technique

Here is a great technique to make marinading easier. Cut the tofu into blocks the size of sugar cubes, place them in a storage tub and freeze them overnight. Then, defrost them by pouring water over them. As it freezes, the water in the tofu forms ice crystals which means when it is defrosted it has holes in it like a sponge. You can press down on them gently to squeeze out the water and as you release them and they will soak up the marinade. The freezing also gives the tofu a stronger texture, which is nicer to eat and is less likely to break up when you cook with it.

This freezing technique is used in our Tofu Irish Stew recipe.

Scrambled tofu

Tofu can be used to make a delicious alternative to scrambled eggs. Once the water has been squeezed out of the tofu, it is crumbled up and fried with turmeric. Check out our recipe for scrambled tofu.

For a really lazy way to make really tasty scrambled tofu, get some Vitam Tofu Scramble. It’s a sachet of flavouring that you mix with water and stir into the fried tofu.


As tofu is made from soya, it is high in protein, containing all nine amino acids that are essential in the diet. Depending on the firming agent used, it can also be a good source of calcium or magnesium.


As is high in protein, it can grow bacteria quickly so it is important to keep it refrigerated. You can keep blocks of firm tofu in the fridge for a few days. It’s best to keep them immersed in water and to replace the water each day.


Tempeh is a similar product to tofu but made from whole soya beans which are fermented. The end product has a much firmer, chewier texture which can be fried as a burger or dropped into stews and stir-fries.

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Scrambled Tofu 11th August 2018

Scrambled tofu is great on toast or as part of a full cooked breakfast. It’s tasty and full of protein. The kala namak (black salt) contains sulphur and gives the dish an authentically eggy flavour.

If you want to add vegetables, cook them first and add them after you have cooked the tofu through. Mushrooms, peppers, courgettes and spinach all work really well.



  1. First you need to drain the tofu and squeeze as much water out of it as you can. The best way to do this is with a tofu press but you can wrap it in a tea-towel and put book on top of it.
  2. Put the drained tofu into a bowl and crush it with a fork to make a rough paste.
  3. Heat some oil in a frying pan.
  4. Peel and slice the onion and soften in the frying pan.
  5. Add the tofu and cook gently, stirring regularly, until it is cooked through.
  6. Add the turmeric and nutritional yeast flakes and stir thoroughly. Cook for a couple more minutes.
  7. Serve on toast topped with plenty of ground black pepper.

The ingredients in this recipe are available from The V Spot.

Find out more about nutritional yeast flakes.

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Vegan Tofu Irish Stew

This recipe uses tofu that has been frozen and then defrosted, giving it a sponge-like texture that lets you add soak up the marinade to really boost the flavour.

  • Category: Main
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes



  1. At least a day in advance, cut the tofu into 1cm chunks, place in a sealed tub and freeze overnight.
  2. When you are ready to make the stew, boil some water and pour it over the frozen cubes of tofu. Leave them to defrost – you can drain them and add more boiling water if you are in a hurry.
  3. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  4. Peel and roughly chop the onions.
  5. Scrub (or peel) and dice the potatoes.
  6. Peel and thickly slice the carrots.
  7. Put the yeast extract and stock into a large saucepan and bring to the boil.
  8. Add chopped onions and diced potatoes and simmer for 10 minutes.
  9. Add carrots and simmer for 5 more minutes, covered.
  10. Meanwhile, mix together the tamari, vinegar and 2 tbsps. water and pour into a large casserole dish.
  11. Drain the tofu and gently squeeze the cubes to press out the water.
  12. Put the tofu into the dish with the tamari mix. Gently press the cubes down and release so that they soak up the liquid like sponges.
  13. Add the vegetables to a casserole dish, stir and cover with a lid.
  14. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes.

The ingredients in this recipe are available from The V Spot.

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