Home » Everything You Need to Know About Cooking With Tofu
Tofu doesn't have to be bland or rubbery—when prepared or cooked properly, a crispy tofu dish can deliver a great deal of umami. Learn how to easily cook crispy tofu with these handy tips.

Tofu is a soy protein ideal for vegetarians, vegans and pretty much anybody who wishes to eat healthier. But it is often overlooked as a viable part of a main course simply because many do not know about cooking with tofu. If not prepared or cooked properly, tofu can be rather bland and tasteless, or even a bit rubbery.

However, the good news is that tofu is not only very easy to cook, but you can also make it taste delicious too! One of the most popular ways of cooking tofu is to make crispy tofu by sautéing the tofu in a pan. By following a few simple prep rules, you’ll soon know everything you need to know about cooking with tofu to create crispy, flavorful tofu and having it turn out great.

1. Drain and Press the Tofu

Tofu often comes packed in water. Before doing anything else with the tofu, make sure all the water has been drained. If the tofu is too waterlogged, it won’t absorb flavors well, and it definitely won’t get crispy when you try to sauté it.

The best way to drain it is to slice it and set the slices on a paper towel. After laying more paper towel across the top, lay a baking sheet on top of the slices, and place something heavy on top of that so that the weight presses down upon the tofu. A cast iron skillet would work very well, but you can also use a heavy book or two. Additionally, the tofu container refilled with water also works as a suitable weight.

You should leave the tofu to drain thoroughly for one to two hours, but if you are in a hurry to prepare a dish, you can use the microwave method. Simply wrap the tofu completely in paper towel and microwave it for about 1 1/2 minutes.

Note: In warmer weather, leave the tofu to drain in the fridge so that it doesn’t spoil.

2. Marinate the Tofu

You may prefer to simply sauté the tofu in some oil, in which case you can skip the marinade. Otherwise, you can use any type of flavorful marinade, from a simple soy sauce base to teriyaki to a citrus marinade or even a barbecue sauce.

Tip: Don’t use a marinade containing oil — the tofu will still retain a little bit of water, which doesn’t mix well with the oil. An oil-based marinade will actually form more of an oily coating on the tofu rather than be absorbed into it.

3. Coat the Tofu With Cornstarch

After marinating the tofu, coating it with a light dusting of cornstarch will help you to achieve a really crispy crust that delivers a big dose of umami.

4. Cooking with Tofu

The oil you use should be very hot before adding the tofu. You can opt for olive oil, but sesame oil or coconut oil works even better. Both oils stand up better to very high heat and also add additional flavor to the tofu.

5. Season the Tofu

After the tofu has been seared and a good crust has begun to form, be sure to season the tofu with your favorite seasoning, be it salt and pepper, togarashi or bonito flakes.

Although this is one of the most common ways to prepare tofu, there are many other cooking methods and dishes you might try. You can broil or grill tofu, or simply add it in small pieces to soups and stews. Consider these tasty and easy ways to take your tofu to the next level. You might also try making a teriyaki tofu sandwich for a great lunch when you’re on the go. And both kids and adults will enjoy tofu “chicken” nuggets!