Saturday, October 27, 2007

How to press tofu!

Okay, I know everyone's new to tofu at some point. I'm going to attempt to explain how one goes about pressing the much-maligned bean curd here, for reference. This is my method, which I've perfected over the course of a year of working with the stuff. It'll press your tofu into a very dense little brick that fries up chewy and crisp, or that you can squish into mock ricotta cheese.

You want to start with a tray of extra firm tofu. Not the little shelf-stable boxes, but the kind you have to refrigerate. (Golly, this would be better with pictures, huh?) Cut the plastic open and drain, then turn out the tofu onto a cutting board. Wrap the block in a paper towel, nothing fancy... just make sure the big sides are covered. The sides don't mater much. Next, take a dry, very clean dishtowel and roll it around the tofu. You want a nice little bundle that lies flat, go ahead an experiment with different folds to see what works best for your towel size.

Next, you want something heavy and preferably small. I'm a big cheater and have a 4"x4" block of steel from my jewelrysmithing days, and it weighs a ton so I just keep it in a ziploc bag and put it on my tofu bundle. You can experiment with books, or use a small plate or pan and put a couple cans of beans or something on top. Anything that's heavy and fairly compact will do. If it's too big, it tends to tip to one side or the other and can leave you with lopsided tofu. Nobody wants that!

Once you've got something heavy resting on your tofu, go read some new recipes or clean the kitchen, or maybe read a book. Watch a movie or go shopping, whatever you like, because you're going to want to press that puppy for at least an hour. I usually leave mine pressing for 3 hours (or longer, if I forget...). Once it's pressed to your liking, take off the sopping-wet dishtowel, peel off the paper towel, and use or store in the fridge till you need it. To store it, put it in a flat-bottomed container and cover with clean water. It won't reabsorb the water, I promise!

Now you are ready tomake some pretty awesome tofu recipes!