Our 10 best tofu recipes
Whether quivering and silken or firm and nutty, it's about time tofu took centre stage. Try it in steaming hot stews, cool and creamy dips, or light and fragrant side salads
1 BLACK SESAME-COATED TOFU WITH BROCCOLI AND LEMON-GLAZED NOODLES (ON THE COVER)
Sesame and tofu are an excellent pairing, the seeds giving crunch and a nutty sharpness to the creaminess of the tofu. Firm tofu holds its shape and coating well when fried.
1 egg, beaten
3 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 garlic clove
250g firm tofu
5 tbsp black sesame seeds
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tbsp caster sugar
Sunflower oil, for frying
1 head of broccoli, cut into bite-size florets
250g egg noodles
A small bunch of coriander, chopped
2 spring onions, rinsed and very finely sliced
Light sesame oil, for drizzling
1 Mix the beaten egg with 1 tbsp of the dark soy sauce. Bash the garlic with the handle of your knife to crack it, remove the skin, then add the clove to the egg mixture.
2 Slice the tofu into squares about 1cm thick, lay them on kitchen paper to remove excess water, turning to dry both sides. Be careful not to break the squares: the tofu is fragile.
3 Sprinkle the sesame seeds on a plate. Dip the tofu into the egg mix, allow the excess to drip off, then coat in the sesame seeds. Transfer to another clean plate. Discard the garlic when you have finished dipping.
4 Add the lemon juice, sugar and remaining 2 tbsp of dark soy sauce to a small saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the glaze has reduced by half. Keep to one side.
5 Heat a drizzle of sunflower oil in a large frying pan until very hot, then carefully add the broccoli. Cook for 30 seconds, then reduce the heat to medium for another 2 minutes. Don’t worry if they catch a little: the charred bits give the dish extra flavour. They need to still have a bit of a crunch, so try a piece of the broccoli to test if they’re ready. Season with salt, then remove the florets and wipe the pan with kitchen paper.
6 Cook the noodles in boiling water for around 5-8 minutes, or follow the packet instructions.
7 Meanwhile, heat a drizzle of sunflower oil in the frying pan you used for the broccoli (saves on washing up) and, when hot, carefully add the tofu. Lower the heat to medium to prevent the sesame seeds burning, then cook for two minutes on both sides.
8 By now your noodles should be cooked, so drain very well, then add them back to the saucepan. Fold in the lemon glaze, then the cooked broccoli.
9 Add the noodles to your plates, top with the coriander and finely sliced spring onions, then drizzle with a little sesame oil. Finally, add the tofu and serve.
2 TOFU MISO HUMMUS
The silken tofu is great as a base for a dip or spread. Here tahini, garlic and miso bring a rich trio of flavours. Try substituting 75g of tofu for chickpeas for a flavourful twist.
1 garlic clove, crushed
150g silken tofu
4 tbsp tahini
Juice from ½ lemon
4 tbsp of peanut or olive oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
½ tbsp white miso
Salt and black pepper
2 tbsp chopped chives
1 Vigorously whisk the garlic, tofu and tahini in a small bowl, then stir through all the remaining ingredients and whisk again.
2 Sprinkle with chopped chives, then serve. Yuki Gomi, yukiskitchen.com
3 HONEYED TOMATO WITH TOFU
Here tofu takes the place of the more conventional mozzarella in a tomato salad, and it works wonderfully. Subtle, moist and fresh, it sits beautifully with the herbs and fruit, and carries the umami dressing with poise.
Serves 3-4 1 large tomato, deseeded and cut into 1cm pieces 1 large shallot, finely chopped
350g block of silken or firm tofu, cut into cubes
A few small coriander leaves
For the dressing 1 tbsp honey 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar 1 tbsp soy sauce
1 Put the tomato and shallot into a small bowl. Mix all the ingredients for the dressing and add to the bowl. Mix well and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.
2 Spread the tofu on a plate and scatter the tomato and shallots on top. Dress with the coriander leaves.
Makiko Sano, Shoku-Iku (Quadrille)
4 KOREAN STEW
Soondubu jjigae is made with delicate, uncurdled tofu, which contrasts brilliantly with the bold Korean flavours of this steamy stew. Serve simply with a bowl of plain boiled rice. Serves 1-2
2 tsp Korean red chilli pepper flakes 1 tsp sesame oil 3 mushrooms, diced ¼ small onion, diced 1 garlic clove, crushed 1 tsp soy sauce 235ml water or vegetable stock 350g extra soft tofu, sliced into large chunks ½ small courgette, diced Salt and black pepper 1 green or red chilli pepper, thinly sliced 1 spring onion, finely chopped
1 Add the red chilli pepper flakes and sesame oil to a small pan and place over a medium heat. Stir until the chilli pepper flakes begin to melt slightly. Keep a close eye on them, as they can burn suddenly.
2 Add the mushrooms, onion, garlic and soy sauce. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes, or until the vegetables have slightly softened.
3 Pour in the water or stock and bring to the boil. Add the tofu along with the courgette and season to taste. Bring to the boil again, then simmer for 4-5 minutes.
4 Add the chilli pepper and spring onion right at the end, just before you remove the pan from the heat. Serve immediately. Hyosun Ro, koreanbapsang.com
5 CRISPY FRIED TOFU WITH CHILLI SOY DIPPING SAUCE
If you have ever eaten and loved salt and pepper squid or ribs then you will love this version – the tofu bears this explosion of savoury flavours perfectly. Serve with stir-fried greens.
Serves2 tbsp lightly4 flavoured oil
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
5cm-piece ginger, peeled and shredded
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
6 spring onions, sliced 200g firm tofu, patted dry and cut into 2cm cubes 2 tbsp flour Sesame oil, to drizzle
For the dipping sauce 4 tbsp light soy sauce 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped 1 tbsp agave syrup Juice of 1 lime
1 First, make the dipping sauce. Mix all the ingredients together and set aside.
2 Heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan over a high heat, throw in the garlic and ginger and fry for 2 minutes or until golden and fragrant. Tip in the chilli and spring onion, stir fry for a further minute until just starting to cook. Remove from the pan and set aside.
3 Put the pan back on the heat and add the remaining oil. Dust the tofu with the flour, pat off any excess, then fry the tofu in batches, turning carefully until lightly golden and hot throughout. Return the chilli, garlic and spring onion to the pan, stir to coat the tofu, then remove from the pan. Drizzle with sesame oil, then serve with the dipping sauce and stir-fried greens. Rosie Reynolds, rosiereynolds.co.uk
6 TOFU TEMPURA WITH SPICY CREAMY SAUCE
Deep-fried tofu is simultaneously rich, creamy and light, to exactly the right degree, and it goes beautifully with this chilli-garlic-citrus dressing.
Serves 4 200g all-purpose flour mixed with 4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 litres iced water
Vegetable oil, for deep frying
400g extra firm tofu, cut into 1.5cm cubes
50g mixed leaf salad
A pinch of chopped chives
For the sauce
1 tsp chilli garlic sauce
A few drops of yuzu or lime juice
1 First, make the spicy sauce. Combine the mayonnaise, chilli garlic sauce and yuzu, then mix well and set aside.
2 Mix the flour with enough iced water to make a thick batter. It must not be too loose.
3 Pour the oil into a deep saucepan and heat it to 160C/325F. Dip the tofu in the batter and deep fry them in small batches for around 5 minutes, or until crispy. When cooked, remove the freshly fried tofu pieces and set aside while you cook the rest.
4 To serve, place the tofu on a bed of mixed leaf salad, dress with the spicy sauce and sprinkle with the chopped chives.
Bubker Belkhit, sumosan.com
7 TOFU WITH BLACK BEANS AND SPINACH
A hearty brunch idea. The pickled chipotles add a lovely smoky note to the dish, but you can substitute them for 2 tbsp of tomato ketchup if you prefer it less spicy.
400g silken to medium-firm tofu
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 small orange or red pepper, cut into strips
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp turmeric
Juice of ¼ lemon
400g black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small handful of baby spinach leaves 1 tbsp chipotle in adobo, drained and chopped (or 2 tbsp ketchup)
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp chopped coriander
Chilli sauce, to taste
1 Dry the tofu with kitchen paper and break it into bite-size pieces. Set aside. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a frying pan, and cook the onion over a medium heat until soft. Add the garlic, pepper, cumin and turmeric and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes, or until the pepper is soft. Add a splash of water if the pan becomes dry.
2 Add the remaining oil and the tofu and cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes. Gently turn over the tofu pieces as they cook, but not too often as they need time to caramelise.
3 When the tofu is golden, squeeze over the lemon juice and scrape up the crusty bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the beans, spinach and chipotle (or ketchup, if using), and sprinkle over the nutritional yeast. Toss the ingredients together and cook for about 2 minutes, or until the beans are warmed through and the yeast melted. Serve immediately, sprinkled with coriander and a splash of chilli sauce (if using).
Sue Quinn, Easy Vegan (Murdoch Books)
8 ALMOND SOBA NOODLE BOWL
This is a deliciously nutty and easy-to-prepare vegetarian dish for tofu beginners and lovers alike. The almond dressing and the bite of the tofu creates a wonderfully moreish midweek supper.
Serves400g buckwheat4 soba noodles
3 tbsp olive oil
400g extra firm tofu
A few pinches of sea salt
For the dressing
6 tbsp almond butter
2 tsp white miso paste
Juice of 1 lime
¼ tsp sea salt
6 tbsp water
30g flaked almonds
4 spring onions, sliced
A handful of mint leaves
1 red chilli (optional)
1 First, make the almond dressing by combining all the ingredients, except the water, and whisking until well combined. Add the water 1 tbsp at a time until it has the consistency of double cream.
2 Bring a pot of water to the boil and cook the noodles for 3-4 minutes, or until al dente. Drain thoroughly and rinse under cold running water. Toss in 1 tbsp olive oil to prevent the noodles from sticking together.
3 Cut the tofu into 5mm cubes and cook on a medium high heat with 2 tbsp olive oil and 2 pinches of salt until golden brown – about 5 minutes. Add the noodles to the pan for 30 seconds to reheat.
4 Toss the warm noodles and tofu in the almond dressing and garnish with almonds, spring onions, mint leaves and chilli. Adria Wu, mapleandfitz.com
9 WATERCRESS AND TOFU SOUP
A clean, green bowlful, creamy from the tofu and lightly peppery from the cress.
Serves3 bunches4 watercress
300g silken tofu
3 tbsp soy sauce
Salt and black pepper
1 Separate the leaves from the watercress and chop the stems roughly.
2 In a large saucepan, bring the water just to the boil, add the watercress stems and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the tofu, then blitz until smooth using a stick blender.
3 Bring the soup back to a gentle simmer and add most of the watercress leaves, reserving a few for garnish. Simmer for 3 minutes and blend again until smooth.
4 Add the soy sauce, then season to taste with salt and black pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with a few shredded watercress leaves. Serve.
Hideki Maeda, noburestaurants.com
10 TOFU OKONOMIYAKI
Okonomiyaki means “baked favourites” and although there are standard versions of this Japanese savoury pancake dish, pretty much anything goes. Here the tofu and avocado filling is paired with a citrus-infused soy sauce.
Serves 3 6cm piece konbu seaweed 200ml water 100g plain flour 2 eggs, beaten 1 tsp salt ½ cabbage, finely chopped 2 bunches spring onions, finely chopped 300g tofu, mashed ½ avocado, mashed 10g gari (pickled pink ginger), finely chopped Vegetable oil, for frying
For the sauce 30ml soy sauce 30ml yuzu juice 1 tbsp water
To garnish 1 tbsp mayonnaise 1 sheet nori, shredded 1 tsp white sesame seeds, toasted
1 Under running water, rinse the konbu then pat dry with kitchen paper. Place it in a saucepan with the water and bring to the boil slowly, over a medium-low heat, skimming the surface as you go. Just before it comes to the boil, remove from the heat, discard the konbu and set the stock aside to cool.
2 Combine the flour, eggs and salt in a mixing bowl, then pour in the cooled stock and whisk well, ensuring there are no lumps. Add the cabbage, spring onion, tofu, avocado and gari and mix well.
3 Heat a thin layer of oil in a frying pan and pour in roughly ⅓ of the batter mixture. Cover the pan with the lid and cook over a medium heat for around 4-5 minutes, before turning the pancake over and cooking for the same amount of time on the other side. Remove from the heat and place the okonomiyaki on a serving plate. Repeat with the remaining batter to make three pancakes in total.
4 In a small bowl, mix all the sauce ingredients well, then drizzle all over the okonomiyaki. Spread a little mayonnaise over the top and garnish with the nori seaweed pieces and sesame seeds. toconoco.com