The DIY Tofu Press Method is here to revolutionize your tofu game. Not only does pressing your tofu make it firmer and easier to handle, but it also allows it to absorb more flavor from marinades and sauces. And the best part? You don't need to spend money on a fancy tofu press – you only need a few kitchen items you already have. We'll guide you through the steps to create your homemade press and share some tips on using it effectively. Trust me, once you try this method, you'll never go back to balancing cans on top of your tofu again.
Pressing tofu is an important step in many recipes because it helps to remove excess water from the tofu, which allows it to absorb flavors better and creates a firmer texture.
If you've ever cooked with tofu, you've probably come across recipes that instruct you to "press the tofu." Some of these recipes might even suggest that you need a fancy kitchen gadget. I'm going to show you how to press tofu without spending extra money.
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Why removing excess water is important
If you've cooked with tofu, you know the first and most important step is to remove the excess water. Tofu is stored in water to prevent it from drying out, keep it fresh for longer, and preserve its flavor and texture.
Pressed tofu wins every time compared to non-pressed.
Types that can be pressed for perfect texture
These are the most common forms found in grocery stores. Note: Regular tofu is referring to firm and extra-firm because they maintain shape and texture.
⛔Silken - has a creamy and smooth texture making it perfect for dips, sauces, smoothies, and desserts. Silken tofu is not firm enough to hold its shape; therefore, I do not recommend you press it.
✅Firm - holds shape and has a softer, smoother texture than extra-firm. Firm tofu is the best pick when you need a crumble, like in a tofu scramble, or a tender texture, like in a soup.
✅Extra-Firm - labeled 'extra' means it was pressed longer during the creating process. If you want tofu that will maintain its structure, the extra firm tofu is your pick. Any recipe that calls for the tofu to be grilled, added to a stir fry, or any method that requires the tofu to hold its structure.
What's the optimal amount of time?
Pressing tofu involves two things: texture and flavoring. When water is removed, other liquid is allowed in. The marinade will soak into the tofu, ensuring that every bite is full of flavor.
The length of the pressing time greatly impacts the end result. A longer press results in a more textured feel, while a shorter press creates a softer texture with less flavor.
There isn't a specific amount of time to press a tofu block, but I suggest pressing it for at least 15 minutes, ideally 30 minutes, or longer if you have the time, such as around 1 hour.
The DIY method:
- To press tofu, start by wrapping it in one clean kitchen towel. Place a second towel folded flat underneath for extra absorbency. While some suggest using paper towels, my experience determined they are not absorbent enough.
- Place the wrapped tofu on a cutting board or flat surface. Then, take a heavy pan, ideally a cast iron skillet, and place it on top of the tofu. Gently press down on the pan several times to balance it on top of the tofu, being careful not to crush it.
- Leave the skillet on top of the tofu for at least 15 minutes, ideally 30 minutes, or longer if you have time, such as around 1 hour.
- Once pressed, remove the skillet or weight, unwrap the tofu, and it's ready for the next cooking step!
Don't have a heavy pan to place on top? Use a weighted bowl or small exercise dumbbell.
What to do after?
After pressing your tofu for 30 minutes, you can slice it into strips or cubes and start cooking! Or freeze it. Freezing tofu transforms its texture, making it firmer, chewier, and more absorbent. This is especially helpful when preparing grilled, baked, or stir-fried tofu dishes because the strips or cubes hold their shape well without falling apart.
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If you want to improve your cooking skills, be sure to read my post, 14 expert tips for enhancing your culinary abilities.