What does Tofu taste like? Best Beginner’s Guide to Tofu.

If you’re new to tofu, you may be wondering what does tofu taste like? Or maybe you tried the natural version of tofu already, you didn’t like it and you are wondering why is that people rave about it so much?

Let’s explore what does tofu taste like and what to do to make it taste amazing.

What is tofu?

Tofu is a versatile soy-based product that can be used in variety of dishes, but you may need to learn how to cook it and how to make it taste great.

What Does tofu Taste Like?

Neutral, mild, bland – those are all terms to describe tofu, if you don’t know how to prepare it. Taste of tofu is very subtle. Tofu has a delicate ‘nutty’ flavor, but apart from that it doesn’t have any distinctive taste.

Is it a reason to hate tofu? On the contrary. It is why so many people love it so much! Because you can make tofu taste like anything you want.

What is Tofu?

Versatile plant based protein made by curdling fresh soy milk and pressing the curds into blocks. Depending on the process of curdling, as well as how much the curds are pressed we may obtain different variety of tofu, from soft silken to extra firm tofu.

How Do You Eat Tofu?

What’s so great about tofu is it’s versatility. You can really incorporate it in almost any recipe and serve it in so many ways. You can have it sour or sweet. You can substitute it for meat or prepare dessert.

Here are just hew examples how to eat tofu:

  • fried
  • grilled
  • baked
  • marinated
  • make dessert: vegan cheesecake, mousse, ice cream
  • stir-fry
  • tofu scramble (yes, it is great substitute for scrambled eggs)
  • tofu burger
  • add to smoothies

As you can see, with a little creativity, you can use tofu in many ways to create delicious and healthy dishes.

What does tofu taste like? Crispy pan fried tofu.

What Are Most Common Ways To Make Tofu Taste Better?

That depends on the type of tofu and the way you want to use it, but here are most common ways of making tofu taste amazing.

Marinating

The easiest and probably most popular technique to add some flavor, is to marinate tofu. You can use so many different ingredients for a marinade, make it spicy, sweet & sour, salty, or herbal. Here are some great tips to help you marinate tofu:

  1. Choose the right type of tofu – extra-firm or firm tofu is your best choice. It will hold the shape, texture and flavor best.
  2. Press tofu before marinating – to get rid of excess water inside tofu and make it absorb more flavors. More advice how to press tofu below.
  3. Mix flavors when creating marinade. For example, combine salty (soy sauce) with sour (vinegar or lemon juice) and sweet (maple syrup). This way you will obtain perfectly balanced flavors. Check section below for few marinade examples, as well as simple recipe at the bottom of this post.
  4. Make sure the marinade isn’t too thick, as it will not get inside little pockets in tofu easily. You can add a little water to make it runny.
Cubes of tofu thrown in a jar with sauces and spices for marinating.
Tofu being marinated in soy sauce balsamic vinegar and spices.

Easy Marinade Ideas

  • lemon juice – maple syrup – cilantro – garlic
  • peanut butter – soy sauce – lime juice – chili flakes
  • balsamic vinegar – Italian herbs – crushed garlic
  • curry paste – water – mashed garlic and ginger

Should you add olive oil to the marinade? NO – that’s not a good idea. Olive oil is not ideal marinade base, as it is thick and doesn’t penetrate tofu easily. It is better to keep the marinade rather runny. You will fry your tofu later using some oil anyway.

Tofu being marinated in a jar with soy sauce and spices.
Tofu being marinated in soy sauce balsamic vinegar and spices.

Frying With Sauce And Spices

If you don’t have time for marinating tofu you can always dice and pan fry it, tossing with spices and sauce. First, fry tofu only using vegetable oil, after it browns a little add soy sauce and spices like smoked paprika, cumin, garlic powder or curry mix.

Smoking

While you probably wouldn’t smoke tofu yourself, you can buy already smoked tofu that is very good even without further processing.

I like to slice it thinly and put on my sandwich. Another way to enjoy it is to fry it crispy and add to pasta or curry dishes.

How To Improve Texture And Taste Of Tofu?

Pressing Tofu

Before cooking, it’s important to press the excess water out of tofu. This way we improve it’s texture and allow it to absorb marinades and sauces.

You can buy a special tofu press, but you can also do it using whatever you have at hand.

Unpack tofu and drain over the sink. Place tofu on a plate and place a cutting board on top of it. Place something heavy on top of cutting board – a pot, few books, big pack of beans or whatever you have at hand.

Wait for at least 10 minutes (even up to an hour).

Why pressing tofu works? Because the water that exits the block of tofu leaves little pockets of air, that are very easily filled with marinade or the sauce

Freezing Tofu

There is one super easy method to drastically improve both texture and ability to absorb flavors. It is freezing tofu.

When you freeze tofu, even just overnight, and unfreeze it before cooking, its texture becomes spongy and absorbs all the flavors of the marinade or sauce. Of course do not forget to press it after it thaws.

After freezing, Tofu becomes a bit tougher, so it can be used in dishes that call for a meat alternative, like this Vegan Chicken Salad.

Read more about freezing tofu and how to create fantastic dishes and meat alternatives.

Tofu chopped into cubes.
Tofu that was frozen has a spongy texture that absorbs marinade.

Types Of Tofu And How To Use Them

When you think texture and firmness, there are few types of tofu and each one needs different handling.

Firm & Extra Firm Tofu

This type of tofu is obtained by pressing the soy curds a lot. That is why it is dense and solid, and maintains it shape very well while cooking and processing.

Pan fry – cut tofu into slices or cubes and pan fry with some oil until golden brown. Use a non stick pan.

You can also grill, bake or add it to curries. It’s perfect for marinating.

Regular Tofu

This form of tofu contains a little more liquid. It still holds the shape well and can be cut into cubes, slices or triangles. It is the most versatile type of tofu that can be both baked, grilled or fried.

It can as well be turned into scramble or tofu-cheesecake, or vegan cream cheese, or even vegan egg salad. Wow, so many uses..

Tofu chicken on a white and blue plate.

Smoked Tofu

Smoked tofu has been infused with a smoky flavor during manufacturing process. It is usually quite firm.

It can be eaten as is in sandwiches, salads or wraps. You can also use it in stir fries, stews, you can put it on a grill or bake it. Smoked tofu already tastes pretty good, it’s a little salty with a smoky hint. Obviously you can add some more flavor by marinating it.

Soft & Silken Tofu

Soft or silken tofu has the highest moisture content and a silky, custard-like texture.

Mash soft tofu with fork and cook it with kala namak salt, spices, onion and some veggies to make vegan scramble for breakfast.

Boil or poach tofu in vegetable or mushroom broth – use it in soups or stews. You can also use it as a topping for rice bowls or salads.

Silken tofu can be blended into smoothies or used as a base for various dressings and sauces.

Beginner Friendly Tofu Recipes

In order to inspire you to experiment with tofu I created this list of beginner friendly recipes both from my blog and from other bloggers that I follow.

What does tofu taste like? Let’s find out:

Tofu Cream Cheese

Tofu cream cheese with dill and chives.

  • Fried Vegan Fish on a decorative plate.

    Fried Vegan Fish

    Cooks in 50 minutesDifficulty: Medium

    A real game changer for those who crave the taste of fish on a plant based diet. This Vegan Fish is juicy and tender with perfectly crisp skin.


  • Crispy Fried Tofu Chicken on a decorative plate with tomatoes in the background.

    Crispy Tofu Fried Chicken

    Cooks in 40 minutesDifficulty: Easy

    Perfectly crispy outside with a juicy inside full of flavors this Tofu Fried Chicken will make you addicted to tofu. It is super easy to make and requires only few basic ingredients.


  • How to make Tofu Scramble with any kind of tofu

    This eggy tofu scramble is an easy, high protein and delicious vegan breakfast that tastes like eggs! You can make it with any kind of tofu – silken, firm or extra firm.

Easy Recipe for Crispy Fried Tofu

Almond Rosemary Lemon Crusted Tofu

Vegan Tofu Taco Crumbles

Did you know that tofu can support a healthy weight loss? Check out Easy & Healthy Tofu Recipes For Weight Loss.

Questions and Answers

Is Tofu Healthy?

Tofu is considered healthy food and good source of protein by many food experts and scientists. It contains all essential amino acids your body needs. Other qualities of tofu:

  • dense in nutrition
  • great source of: calcium, copper, manganese, selenium
  • naturally cholesterol free
  • naturally gluten free

Are there any downsides of tofu? The only one I can think of is that soy is an allergen, so people who are allergic to soy cannot eat tofu.

Does Tofu Need To Be Cooked?

Technically, no. When it comes to safety, tofu can be eaten raw, as it is.

When it comes to flavor it is best to cook tofu to add desired taste and texture qualities. Believe me, I know people who only tried raw tofu and they claim they hate it, without giving a properly cooked tofu a chance.

If you are wondering what does tofu taste like and want to try it for the very first time, follow the simple recipe below for great final effect. Or go to a good Asian restaurant, that knows how to handle it.

How Long To Cook Tofu?

Since tofu can be eaten raw, you only need to cook it long enough to obtain desired texture and taste. To make it crispy usually 7-10 minutes is enough. That’s why tofu is perfect ingredient when you want to quickly whip up the nutritious meal.


Very Easy Tofu Recipe

Easy Marinated Tofu Recipe

5.0 from 1 vote
Recipe by VegnFit Course: Lunch, Dinner, SidesCuisine: Vegan, AsianDifficulty: Easy
Servings

2

servings
Prep time

20

minutes
Cook time

10

minutes
Total time

30

minutes

Quick and easy marinated tofu that’s perfect addition to salads, curries, stews or wraps. Make tofu cubes, slices, crumbles – they will all turn out perfectly crispy outside with a juicy inside.

Cook Mode

Keep the screen of your device on

Ingredients

  • 1 block regular or firm tofu

  • 1/2 tbsp corn or potato starch (optional)

  • MARINADE
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

  • 1 tbsp maple syrup

  • 1 tbsp sweet chili asian sauce

  • salt and pepper

  • ADDITIONS
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

  • 1/2 tsp dry chili flakes (optional)

Directions

  • If using frozen tofu, allow it to thaw.
  • Press tofu to get rid of excess water. Cut tofu into cubes, slices, or however you want to eat it.
  • Add all ingredients of marinate into a jar, close it tightly and shake well. Try the marinade and adjust the taste if needed.
  • Add tofu to the jar with marinade. Make sure all pieces are covered and leave for marinating for at least 15 minutes (or overnight in the fridge).
  • Take pieces of tofu out of the jar draining the marinade slightly.
  • Sprinkle or toss tofu in the starch for extra crispy effect. This step is optional.
  • Pan fry tofu with 1 tbsp olive oil until browned and crispy (around 10 minutes).
    Bake tofu in air fryer for 10 minutes in 320°F / 160°C checking it and tossing at 5 minutes mark.

Notes

  • The better you press the tofu the more marinade will be absorbed. Be careful not to break it though, as tofu is quite crumbly.
  • Reuse the marinade for another block of tofu, or use it as a sauce in any Asian dish.
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