I don’t profess to be an authority on tofu. I haven’t titled this post ‘how to cook the best crispy tofu’ or ‘how to cook the perfect crispy tofu’ because we all feel differently about what ‘the best’ and ‘the perfect’ is.
My version of the perfect crispy tofu is a result of me chasing the crunchy texture of the stuff they serve at Pompoko (Brighton residents: if you know, you know). When adding tofu to a dish I like it served on top of a meal to add a different texture and that delicious, fried, beige flavour. If that’s not your game, this is not your post. There are many others out there.
See all that moisture? That’s why pressing tofu is absolutely rule number one if you want it to get nice and crispy. There are a few ways to do this, and most of them are a ballache.
I used to lay a block of tofu on a plate covered in kitchen towel, top it with more kitchen towel and then stack heavy books on top. More often than not, my tofu pressing tower had toppled on my return home from work. If you want to learn how to press tofu, Veggie Belly has a great tutorial.
Personally, I’ve been using the tofu press that Tofuture sent me a few months ago for feature on the Vegan Christmas Sandwich. I’m not trying to sell it to you (I’ll make zero moneys if you buy one, this is purely informative) but it’s now become integral to my tofu cooking routine. I just pop the block in, squeeze the lid down and leave it in the fridge for a few hours. It’s far easier and more efficient than any homemade press I ever managed.
I don’t think the brand you use particularly matters (I like Cauldron cause it’s £2 in Sainsbury’s and easy for me to get hold of), but the type you use very much does. There’s a huge difference between silken tofu and firm tofu – they’re both fantastic in their own ways, but silken tofu will absolutely not play ball if you want to crisp it up.
Silken tofu is almost more custard-y, does that make sense? Perhaps not. It’s far softer, anyway, and is perfect for things like tofu scramble or vegan desserts. To be clear: only buy firm tofu if you want to cook crispy tofu.
How much tofu should you cook per person? I tend to gravitate towards the 1/4 of a block per person mark, and this feels like a good enough portion for me. When cooking for Tom and I, I use half a block.
How small you cut the pieces is totally your call, but remember to keep an eye on the cooking time because it will increase or decrease depending on how large your chunks are. For this post, I actually cut them a little smaller than I might usually, my personal preference is slightly larger chunks so as to retain a big hunk of softness inside.
When it comes to cooking, use a lot of oil. You want the tofu to be at least part submerged to get that gorgeous, golden crisp. Is it healthy? Yeah, probably not, but that wasn’t the deal we entered into today. I told you I’d give you crispy, and this is how you get crispy.
Be sure to use an oil with a high smoke point, olive oil is not your friend here. I tend to use sunflower oil, but anything with a high smoke point and a neutral taste is cool.
Heat the oil before adding the tofu, and then cook (moving and turning the pieces all the time) for anywhere between five and ten minutes, taking it to your desired level of golden and crunchy. When finished, remove with a slotted spoon and place onto kitchen towel to drain any excess oil.
If serving sauce-free, I recommend seasoning somehow. Chilli and salt are a good combo, a little garlic powder goes a long way, you do you. But make sure you give it a little something to boost flavour.
If you want to add sauce, add to the pan after cooking. It’s notoriously difficult to get a tofu marinade to hold plus marinating it makes it more moisture-heavy, which isn’t what you want at all. This is a tip that comes from the wonderful @thezestylime, The Tofu Queen. Follow her on Instagram if you’re interested in vegan accounts.
Got questions? By all means hit me up.