The Tofu Press: The Secret to Perfect, Flavorful Tofu Each Time

June 18, 2012 3:42 PM EDT | By Anthony Smith
Investing in a tofu press turns out perfect fried tofu triangles every time! (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

When I was considering becoming vegan, I scoured the nethermost reaches of the internet for any tips and tricks to get me to forget that all my meals would be lacking in those meat-and-dairy groups that are so essential to adding easy, hit-the-spot flavors to any dish. My tenure as a veggie-eater lasted a good one week, but one artifact from that dark-green time in my life remains a staple of my kitchen: the tofu press.

1. What's that?

Now, if you're like me, you're thinking: what the heck is a tofu press and why should I spend my money on one if I don't eat that much tofu? I was there, too. I understand the concern. But they're cheap, they're easy to use, and once you start using it, you'll realize what you've been missing for so many years.

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The goal of a tofu press is simple: it squeezes out water from tofu. That may not sound like it accomplishes much, but the fresh tofu we purchase in supermarkets is loaded with too much water. It's foul-smelling, it fudges with the texture of the soy, it seeps out during cooking, often watering down our flavoring, and-- worst of all-- it really doesn't taste good.

A tofu press not only solves that problem, it proves to you that it was a problem in the first place. There's nothing like a kitchen appliance that pulls its weight every single time you use it (we're looking at you, zester!).

2. How do I use it?

It's easy. Just get a brick of tofu (I usually go for extra firm) and place it in your press. Most presses that you can buy for cheap operate on a spring-and-screw system, so turn the screw until the vice clamps down on your soy. You can squeeze it any way you like, but I like to press down just until my tofu looks like it's about to burst. Wait thirty minutes.

Oh, and before you use it, you may want to put some paper towels down on your kitchen surface. You'll see why in a second.

3. Cleaning up a mess.

Holy. Moly. Did all of that water come out of your one hunk of tofu? And why does it smell so bad?

These are all questions that we shouldn't answer, lest we never cook with the stuff ever again. Just clean up all that watery mess and remove your tofu from the press.

Now, before you use pressed tofu in your favorite recipes, try cooking something simple with it: a quick pan fry with just a little soy sauce to taste. Try it. Brace yourself. Yes, that's the same store-bought tofu you've been buying (or not buying) for years. Yes, it's like you're tasting something for the first time ever. Absolutely, you're going to start cooking with tofu more often.

And if anyone asks, tell them that the secret to your tofu cooking is love. Just make sure to hide the evidence.


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