Take the 2-minute tour ×
Seasoned Advice is a question and answer site for professional and amateur chefs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

So far the best way I've found to make tofu taste good is to exchange as much of the water in it for liquid carrying flavor. In order to do that of course you need to get the water OUT. The age old wrap it in tea towels and let it set with some weight on it just doesn't seem compatible with our kitchen (very small, with little counter space) or our family (has a active toddler that gets into everything).

The best way I've found to date is:

  1. freeze the tofu (in it's container) until it's rock hard. (at least 2 nights)
  2. Let the tofu thaw in the fridge until it's completely thawed through. (at least 2 days)
  3. slit the package open along one long side, poke a hole on the opposite side for air to get in and and allow the block to drain into the sink.
  4. compress the package (over the sink) with your hands (if it's the soft plastic vacuum packed kind)
  5. take the block of tofu out of the package and slice it on my cutting board into slices 1/2" thick (or whatever size I need for the dish in question if they're smaller)
  6. place the slices on an upside down plate, place another plate upside down atop it (bottom to bottom - our plates have a flat, sealed bottom so they're food safe.)
  7. hold the plate and tofu sandwich above the sink and lightly squeeze with a hand on both sides until liquid stops coming out.

The problems with this are:

  1. have to plan ahead, if I didn't take the block of tofu out of the freeze two days ago, we're not eating it for dinner tonight.
  2. there's a seriously noticeable texture change, which in and of itself isn't bad, it's just not something you want with every dish.

So what other methods are folks using for draining blocks of tofu in a hurry?

EDIT: the main thing I'm looking for here is speed... this is for those "oh crud, we forgot to plan ahead for diner tonight!" moments.

share|improve this question
1  
Wow, that sounds like a huge hassle! –  yossarian Oct 29 '10 at 22:30
    
no way I would put that much effort into tofu –  Jonathan Oct 30 '10 at 6:18
1  
sound's like you're pressed for space... –  TJ Ellis Oct 30 '10 at 15:31
add comment

7 Answers 7

up vote 7 down vote accepted

My time pressed tofu draining method is the microwave.

You slice it into the size pieces you wan then there are two different ways I have used:

1) Microwave it for about two minutes. Water leaks out onto the plate, which you drain then microwave it for a couple more minutes. Keep doing this until it stops leaking out water.

2) Microwave once for three minutes then place over a colander to rain.

The multiple time method works slightly better (more through draining) but once plus draining is easier.

share|improve this answer
    
I second the microwaving - works for me every time. –  firedrawndagger Dec 6 '10 at 2:34
add comment

I'm not really sure I understand your space constraints. We do what you initially suggested with a minor modification. We take the tofu and wrap in paper towels and then weight it down (we use our in kitchen compost bin, but a pot would work fine). Every 5 mins, we unwrap the tofu, squeeze out the kitchen towels, re-wrap, and then re-weight. It takes about 15-20 minutes to get quite dry, and we prep other things while we're doing this.

This takes very little kitchen space (in our case, we're using a weight that was already on the kitchen counter so it takes no additional kitchen space). You could probably also do this on a cutting board on top of the fridge or some other space in the kitchen. And how big is your toddler that they can get to the back of your counters?

Seems to me, you should give this method another shot, as it's easy, effective, and doesn't require pre-planning.

share|improve this answer
add comment

We generally drain in the sink, using the wrap-in-towels-and-press technique. Usually cut into slabs (half or fourths of the block) to get more surface area and make it dry quicker, and then put the towel-wrapped tofu between two baking sheets or cutting boards, with a couple cans of spaghetti sauce or beans on top for weight. Sometimes, when pressed for space (i.e. sink full), we keep it on the counter and use the top cutting board for cutting...

That said, I've pressed tofu in a college dorm room which had very very little room and essentially no kitchen; I think I wrapped it in a towel and put a textbook on top. Only took as much space as a block of tofu and a textbook. Doesn't even necessarily need to be in your kitchen for the pressing...

share|improve this answer
add comment

Personally, I just try to find fresher tofu, because good tofu tastes good with very little more than a little soy sauce, ginger and scallions, served cold as "hiyayakko."

However, what you're describing is basically a homemade equivalent to Koyadoufu, the Japanese name for a freeze-dried tofu. You can buy koyadoufu in Japanese markets in the US, and just add boiling water to it to rehydrate it before incorporating into your dish. Alternatively, you can add boiling water to the frozen tofu you have stored (I remove the water from the container first, and freeze it). After adding the boiling water, let sit a few minutes, pour off the water, then squeeze the tofu to remove the last bit of water. I just use my hands for this, but you'll want to let it cool first. This is best done with pre-sliced or cubed tofu, as the whole block won't thaw very easily with boiling water.

Koyadoufu is often simmered with dashijiru (Japanese-style soup stock, typically dried kelp and bonito or small dried fish, sometimes dried kelp and mushrooms), salt, soy sauce, sugar, and mirin (sweetened shochu or sweetened rice wine) and some other vegetables or shiitake for color contrast. But I've also used koyadoufu for less mainstream purposes, including tacos, and it works really nicely with a mole poblano.

Regular tofu should be almost creamy texture and a mild but pleasant soybeany flavor. In a lot of supermarkets, tofu expiration dates are marked very generously, and some off taste and acidity has already developed. Usually even the well-packaged stuff I've seen in Japan has an expiration date not more than about 2-3 weeks after manufacture, tops; in the US, I've seen some that had a date months in the future, and yes, that was reliably an overestimation, as I've often discovered upon opening the package.

Fresh tofu is not meant to absorb other flavors; it's not all that porous unless it's freeze-dried (or frozen). It's meant to complement other flavors, and bring its own texture and aroma to a dish. If you find yourself having to cover up the flavor of tofu, the tofu you are buying is just not that good quality, or it's simply past its prime. You may want to see if there are local tofu-makers that have fresher stuff available. In Seattle there are three small scale places that I know of.

share|improve this answer
add comment

prepare to have your world rocked. after two decades pressing and draining tofu more or less the way you've been doing it, i found this this past summer:

http://www.tofuxpress.com/

your tofu-pressing will never be the same. also works on frozen spinach, etc. : )

share|improve this answer
    
Mmmm, daddy likey –  Ray Mitchell May 6 '11 at 22:25
add comment

I find the common method works well enough:

  • Drain tofu
  • Press by hand in some towels
  • Add weight (a big pot works nicely) and new towels
  • Press by hand again (in new towels)

Takes 10-20 minutes (only a few minutes of real effort), most of which it's under the weight.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Microwave the whole block of tofu for like 10-15,,, maybe even 20 minutes. Firms up a treat. The water just boils out and the tofu never burns.

Ideal.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.