Pressing tofu is a super simple way to change the texture (and flavor) of tofu depending on what you are cooking. I love using pressed tofu for scrambles, to use as vegan paneer or cheese, or for cubing and baking/pan frying. If you don’t love tofu (I didn’t like it before), give this a try before giving up on it!
What difference does it make?
The main difference is texture. Pressed tofu will be more firm and have more chew than unpressed and it won’t crumble as easily. If you are making a curry and you add tofu (even extra firm tofu) without pressing it, it will crumble the more you stir it. You might end up with “chunky tofu crumble curry” instead of Thai curry with tofu (yes, I definitely learned that the hard way).
How does pressing tofu affect flavor?
One word: marinade. A marinade is a liquid that you sit something in to soak up all the flavor. If your tofu is already full of water, it wont soak up very much marinade. If you squeeze out a majority of the water and then marinade, your tofu will take on the flavors of the marinade and won’t be bland! (Kinda like how you need to squeeze out a sponge to soak up more liquid.)
How do I press tofu?
Pressing tofu is SO easy. You can do it for just 10 minutes or even a whole hour depending on what texture you want/how much time you have. Start by wrapping some firm or extra firm (preferably organic) tofu in a clean dish towel (I have a few that are designated for tofu pressing). Try to fold the towel in a way that you get a few layers of towel on each side of the tofu.Place the wrapped tofu on a plate and put something very heavy on top (something that is ok to get wet). My go-to is a baking dish with a bag of some type of flour in it. Heavy books can work, heavy pots can work, anything that will put some weight on the tofu to squeeze out the water.Allow tofu to sit for about 30 minutes (you can do more or less, just experiment!). Once you remove the weight, you will see that the towel is wet and the tofu is much shorter and denser! At this point, I usually rinse and squeeze out the towel and hang it to dry before putting it in the laundry basket. From here you can cube the tofu and cook it immediately or marinate it to soak up some wonderful flavor! Let me know how this works out for you!