Tofu is an incredibly versatile ingredient that is now considered a staple in various cuisines around the world. Rich in protein and derived from soy milk, tofu serves as an excellent meat substitute for vegetarians and vegans. Its mild flavor and ability to absorb the taste of surrounding ingredients make it a culinary chameleon that can adapt to almost any recipe. Tofu finds a home in an array of dishes, from Asian classics to contemporary Western creations. In Asian cuisine, it's a star player in stir-fry dishes, hot pots, and soups, adding a delicate, creamy texture. Tofu seamlessly absorbs the flavors of the savory broths and aromatic spices that it's cooked with, making it a versatile canvas for diverse edible creations.
The preparation of tofu is an art in itself. Soft tofu varieties are often used in soups and desserts, while firm and extra-firm types hold their shape well on the grill and in stir-fry dishes. Tofu can be sliced, diced, cubed, or crumbled, adapting to the requirements of the dish at hand. Whether marinated, fried to a golden crisp, or gently simmered in a flavorful broth, tofu's ability to enhance dishes makes it a beloved ingredient for both vegetarian and vegan applications, and as a welcome addition of texture to certain meat dishes. So, let's take a look at some of the best tofu recipes Tasting Table has to offer.
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Thai Crispy Tofu Lettuce Wraps
These delicious wraps deliver an injection of flavor while keeping things light, making them ideal for summer. We particularly like how the tofu absorbs the flavors.
To get a similar effect, don't forget to squeeze out extra water from the tofu. In these wraps the tofu needs to come out almost crunchy, so removing as much moisture as possible is key. If you don't have a specialized tofu press, just place your ingredient in a shallow bowl and squish it with a flat, heavy object for 15 minutes.
Recipe: Thai Crispy Tofu Lettuce Wraps
Tofu Pad Thai
If you love pad Thai but are tired of your same old takeout place, it's time to turn to this tofu pad Thai recipe. Here you can change things up at will, especially with the vegetables.
For one, you can slip some vegetable goodness right into your noodles by mixing them with zucchini noodles. Although this ingredient can be a bit watery on its own, combining zucchini noodles with starchy noodles that absorb excess water solves the problem. Use rice noodles if you'd like to ensure that the dish remains gluten-free.
Recipe: Tofu Pad Thai
Maple Sesame Tofu
If you're looking for a vegan, gluten-free recipe that can be made in a short amount of time and with very few ingredients, you'll be hard pressed to find a better one than this. It only calls for sesame oil, soy sauce, maple syrup, toasted sesame seeds, tofu, and five minutes of prep time.
Just be sure to use super-firm tofu in this maple sesame tofu recipe. This way you'll only need to pat it dry rather than perform the laborious task of squeezing and draining it.
Recipe: Maple Sesame Tofu
Baked General Tso's Tofu
The world of flavors available in General Tso's famous chicken are not out of reach for vegetarians. But substituting chicken with tofu in a regular recipe might not yield the best results. That's why recipe developer Miriam Hahn came up with her own version, and we're all thankful for it.
The only catch with her baked General Tso's tofu recipe is that it calls for unconventional ingredients like ginger paste, arrowroot powder, and Shaoxing wine. But never fear — she suggests simply substituting these for fresh ginger, corn starch, and mirin.
Recipe: Baked General Tso's Tofu
Tofu And Bok Choy Stir-Fry With Peanut Sauce
If you've tried to put tofu in a stir-fry and ended up with a watery mess, you're not alone. Luckily, we have an ideal solution. Simply press your tofu for 20 minutes and it will be dry and primed to better absorb the flavor coming its way.
And the flavors in this stir-fry are plentiful. Between the spicy ginger root balanced out by the mildly sweet bok choy and tangy lime juice, your taste buds will have plenty to keep them busy.
5-Spice Fried Tofu
This fried tofu recipe is a quick and easy meal for hungry people who are short on time. But while some of the ingredients can be substituted, like Shaoxing wine for mirin, the spice powder is non-negotiable, so make sure you have that on hand before starting.
This is a unique blend of cinnamon, star anise, cloves, peppercorns, and fennel seeds, and each ingredient plays a role in the blend's success. So if you can't find it in the supermarket or online, be sure to look up a good recipe for five-spice powder.
Recipe: 5-Spice Fried Tofu
Vegetarian Mapo Tofu
Traditional Chinese recipes are not always accessible to those living outside of Asia or a big city where you can get almost anything. Not so with this vegetarian mapo tofu, which can be prepared with simple, familiar ingredients.
All you'll need are dried shiitake mushrooms, water, sesame oil, crushed ginger, tofu, black bean sauce, red chili flakes, scallions, and garlic — all items that you can grab at the local grocery store.
Recipe: Vegetarian Mapo Tofu
Jerk-Marinated Grilled Tofu
Combining a traditional Asian ingredient like tofu with something that belongs more in the domain of the Caribbean, like jerk spice, is what global fusion is all about. Our jerk-marinated grilled tofu is the perfect example.
To prepare this, make sure you don't skip the grilling part. This step will help give the tofu a smokey quality, which can be enjoyed beyond its usual association with pork and beef. Tofu can handle it, and your taste buds will thank you.
Recipe: Jerk-Marinated Grilled Tofu
Tofu Tom Yum Soup
While tom yum soup tends to be a seafood dish, this tom yum variation can be made with tofu — and it's arguably even better than the original, due to the tofu's unique ability to absorb the strong flavors in this recipe.
To prepare the recipe, you'll need to give yourself enough time to chop and grate everything, after which you'll be nearly done. In particular, make sure that you cube the tofu, and that you select a type that will retain its shape once covered in liquid.
Recipe: Tofu Tom Yum Soup
Tofu Pesto Pasta
Traditional pesto makes a great sauce for pasta dishes — but with its Parmesan content, it's not suitable for vegans, and Parmesan cheese isn't vegetarian, either. Enter this tofu pesto pasta recipe, where you can recreate the effect of Parmesan with nutritional yeast and a handful of other ingredients.
Additional perks include the creaminess the tofu adds to the pesto, and the fact that you can add chicken if you want. The use of tofu in a dish doesn't necessarily mean it has to be free of animal products.
Recipe: Tofu Pesto Pasta
Classic Agedashi Tofu
Anything that is deep-fried tends to be delicious, and our classic agedashi tofu recipe is no different. But before you get to the frying part, you'll need to do a bit of prep.
Start by creating a tasty sauce with water, dashi flakes, mirin, soy sauce, and salt, then coat the cubed and dried tofu in potato starch and fry it up. Top that with the sauce and serve the dish as an appetizer, side, or main.
Recipe: Classic Agedashi Tofu
Meat may be the king of barbecue, but tofu could be a contender for the crown. While you might not expect tofu to work well in this type of cuisine, BBQ tofu actually shines.
In fact, because tofu is so good at absorbing flavors, it makes an excellent base for your favorite barbecue sauce. Just dip dried and cubed tofu in a mixture of salt, pepper, and cornstarch, fry it, and pour a good barbecue sauce on top.
Recipe: BBQ Tofu
Vegan Tofu-Stuffed Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese Crepes)
A typical crepe often involves lots of butter, eggs, or both. Not so with our vegan tofu-stuffed bánh xèo, which is a traditional Vietnamese crepe that is free of all animal products.
In addition to being incredibly flavorful, this dish is also packed with nutrients. Between the garlic, lime, onion, mushrooms, carrots, and bean sprouts (not to mention the mint, basil, and lettuce), eating this will give your immune system a massive boost.
Vegan Tofu Manicotti
Italian food can seem off-limits to vegans, due to all the cheese it tends to use. One such recipe is manicotti, which typically comes with mozzarella, ricotta, and Parmesan, not to mention all that meat. Cue our vegan tofu manicotti recipe, with no cheese in sight.
To prepare this, remember that just because tofu and cheese may look similar, they are not interchangeable. So to keep everything tasting as delicious as possible, this recipe calls for the tofu to be combined with nutritional yeast, oregano, salt, garlic powder, lemon juice, and oil.
Recipe: Vegan Tofu Manicotti
Tofu Banh Mi
We love recipes that turn a typically meaty dish into a vegetarian (or even vegan) delight with a few simple twists, and this tofu banh mi recipe is one of them. With flavor heavyweights like pickled daikon radishes, jalapeños, lime, ginger, sriracha, and cilantro, you'll hardly miss the meat.
The beauty of this recipe is that you can also play around with it. After pickling the vegetables, you can toss extra veggies into a salad that can accompany your sandwich, or you can pair the banh mi with a warm soup.
Recipe: Tofu Banh Mi
Bulgogi-Style Shredded Tofu
Recipes often call for tofu to be cubed, but so much more can be done with this ingredient than that. Enter our bulgogi-style shredded tofu recipe, which is baked and then fried with vegetables and spices to ensure the maximum burst of flavor.
Indeed, between the ginger, sesame oil, and gochujang, this recipe will not leave you wanting for flavor. As for the texture, be sure to slice and dice the broccolini, carrots, scallions, and radishes finely. This will help them better blend in with the shredded tofu and pear.
Recipe: Bulgogi-Style Shredded Tofu
Kimchi Sundubu Jjigae (Korean Tofu Stew)
Although our recipe for kimchi sundubu jjigae, which is a Korean tofu stew, can be slightly laborious and time-consuming, sometimes that's what it takes for flavors to really develop and provide complexity. In other words, this is a tough one, but it's worth it.
To prepare this, set aside a good 30 minutes of prep time and 45 minutes of cooking time. Then get to work. Each preparation stage, starting from making anchovy stock to adding the tofu near the end, helps add another layer of flavor.
Stir-Fried Bok Choy With Tofu Cream
One of the great things about a stir-fry is that you don't really need a recipe to make a good one. But when you want to try something new or need a bit more guidance, we have our stir-fried bok choy with tofu cream recipe.
The instructions explain how to create harmony between soft tofu cream and fresh, crunchy bok choy, which is no easy feat. Speaking of tofu cream, you will also learn how to prepare this rich spread with tahini, sesame oil, and garlic.
Mediterranean Sheet Pan Tofu
Sheet pan dinners are some of the simplest you can possibly make. Once the ingredients are chopped up and prepared, all you have to do is stick them on the sheet pan, and the oven will do the rest.
This is also the case with our Mediterranean sheet pan tofu recipe, where you will roast tofu with onions, mushrooms, red pepper, garlic, and grape tomatoes, all bathed in a delicious marinade. This will take care of your vegetables and protein for the day. Pair it with rice pilaf as your starch.
Recipe: Mediterranean Sheet Pan Tofu
Vegan Tofu Egg Salad
Tofu is often used as a substitute for many proteins — including eggs — because it can be molded to fit different textures and flavors. This is supremely evident in our vegan tofu "egg" salad recipe, where the tofu is prepared to closely resemble eggs.
Just make sure some of the tofu is mashed and some is diced. This helps mimic real eggs, which, when cooked, result in the yolks and whites coming out differently. On top of that, the vegan mayo, mustard, and dill make you feel like you're eating real eggs.
Recipe: Vegan Tofu "Egg" Salad
Shredded Tofu Tacos
If you recently went meat-free and are missing the taste and texture of pork, our shredded tofu tacos might help you reminisce. When prepared correctly, the shredded tofu — paired with a sauce made with onion, tomato paste, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic, pineapple juice, and soy sauce — will closely resemble pulled pork.
Once the ingredients are prepared, just pick your favorite type of taco shell and get to work. This recipe pairs well with corn tortillas, hard taco shells, and even soft flour tortillas.
Recipe: Shredded Tofu Tacos
Traditional lasagna may be famous for its cheesiness, but our vegan lasagna recipe — prepared with tofu ricotta instead of real cheese — tastes just as good without all that dairy. But don't just substitute plain tofu for cheese. The results of that can be disappointing.
Rather, blend the tofu in a food processor with nutritional yeast, lemon juice, garlic granules, oregano, salt, and oil. This combination will transform your very vegan tofu into an ingredient that tastes decidedly cheesy.
Recipe: Vegan Lasagna
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