Five incredible ways to cook tofu

by Great British Chefs 7 November 2016

All too often dismissed as a alternative to meat for vegetarians and vegans, tofu is actually an incredibly versatile ingredient that’s adept at absorbing other flavours and adding texture to dishes. Here are some inventive and surprising ways tofu can be used in your cooking.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews as well as access to some of Britain’s greatest chefs. Our posts cover everything we are excited about from the latest openings and hottest food trends to brilliant new producers and exclusive chef interviews.

If you’ve never really thought about cooking with tofu or simply see it as something to feed vegetarians when you’ve run out of inspiration, you’re missing out on a fantastic ingredient. There are all sorts of varieties of tofu available in terms of both texture (silken, dried, puffed, firm) and quality, from the mass-made blocks containing calcium sulphate to the all-natural organic versions made with nigari (a by-product of making sea salt through evaporation). But what makes tofu such a useful element in cooking is the fact it’s so good at taking on the flavours of other ingredients. See just how versatile tofu is and give this oft-maligned food the attention it deserves.

1. With pork

In the UK tofu is almost exclusively used in vegetarian and vegan dishes, but in China (where the ingredient originates) it’s included in all sorts of recipes because of its texture. Pork and tofu are the most common combination, and Peter Gordon’s iconic fusion cooking marries them together perfectly in this dish. The tofu is smoked before being whizzed up into a purée, acting as a sort of sauce for the bulkier ingredients.

If you’ve tried to cook with tofu before only to have it all go horribly wrong, try again with this failsafe recipe from Monica Shaw. Simply crumbling firm tofu into the pan with fried vegetables and cooking until all the water has evaporated will leave you with a protein-rich alternative to scrambled eggs for breakfast. It can also be combined with all sorts of spices or seasonings to be used in Mexican or Indian dishes.

4. In a pie

Most tofu dishes tend to include lots of Asian flavours for obvious reasons, but it sits just as happily in traditional European dishes, too. Karen Burns-Booth uses it to give some substance to her vegan pithivier, cooking the chunks of tofu until they break down and create a rich and creamy sauce to coat the mushrooms and chestnuts.

5. In doughnuts

You’ve probably come across silken and firm tofu, but what about Huomoto sesame tofu? A speciality of Nagasaki in Japan, it can be used in desserts in lieu of cream when blended or eaten as is drizzled with honey. Nancy Anne-Harbord uses it as a filling in her baked doughnuts with raspberry jam with fantastic results.