Storing tofu

In Japan, we were spoiled. There was a tofu shop a short walk from our apartment, where the tofu was made daily. You had to go early to get what you wanted, because the shop closed once they’d sold what they made that day. And you had to get there particularly early to get the silken tofu, which was rich, creamy and velvety; with a little bit of soy and ginger, this stuff was decadent. It was best eaten fresh, and there were never any leftovers.

Japanese silken tofu

Outside of Japan (and that includes the rest of Asia), tofu is a completely different food; it’s good, but doesn’t feel like an indulgence. It’s also not a food that stands up on it’s own, so we tend to marinate it and mix it with other ingredients. For one meal, we only need half of a firm 12 oz block – which means that half needs to be stored. If I plan to use the other half in the next couple of days, I just keep it in the fridge, submerged in water. More often than not, though, I just freeze it.

Firm tofu holds up well to freezing – and I actually prefer the texture North American tofu has after having been frozen. It chewier. It’s also more porous, and absorbs other flavors well.

Before freezing their tofu, some people squeeze the water out. I don’t bother. I just pop it into the freezer (in a baggie) where it turns a lovely shade of yellow. I take it out of the freezer several hours before I plan on using it, and let it thaw in the fridge or on the counter. After it thaws, I squeeze the water out of it, crumble it, then get cooking.

For the dish below, I tossed the crumbled tofu in a bit of cooking oil, with a few drops of Worcestershire sauce, some chipotle powder, salt and pepper. I sautéed it with onions, garlic and diced red jalapeño, then served it on a warmed tortilla over melted cheese, along with avocado (tossed in lime juice), sour cream, and a hot salsa. Quick, easy and satisfying.

Tofu taco

Tofu taco


9 thoughts on “Storing tofu

  1. I’ve never thought about freezing tofu. Great idea! And that recipe sounds yummy. I love anything tossed in lime juice.

    • Thanks – and agree about lime. I particularly like it paired with hot spices in Mexican and Thai cuisine.

  2. I should look for some of this “creamy” tofu. I’ll bet my kids would love it!

    Incidentally, you’re not showing up in my blog read…don’t know why. I’ll have to unfollow and re-follow, I guess, to see if it fixes the glitch. It’s why I come back way after the fact.

  3. Excellent – a blend of Japanese and Mexican!

    A popular staple in most Japanese homes is “Kouya dofu” – which is sold as dry – is very light – and must be “reconstituted” before eating. I’m not sure how it is made now, but I think traditionally it was tofu set outside to dry in cold weather climates where it would freeze, perhaps repeatedly, until it was dry.

    Kouya dofu is awesome in a stir fry, soaking up the sesame oil, ginger, soy sauce and other flavors only to deliver a burst of succulent heaven when you bite into it later! I recommend it with “komatsuna” if you can find it!

  4. Informative and hunger-making post. I sometimes freeze tofu but as there are three of us here at casa foodtoglow we usually get through a whole pack no problem. My husband has been to Japan a few times and has remarked on how different and special the various types of tofu are. We have a local ethical company and employer here in Edinburgh who do a mighty fine range of organic and GMO-free tofu that is better than the supermarket kinds, so we are kind of lucky. I also like the idea of Kouya type – no need for a fridge or freezer! Nice, simple recipe too, Jean-Francois.

    • You’re lucky to have a local producer – we haven’t found that in LA yet, so suffer the store brands. Maybe I’ll have to try my hand at making it from scratch someday. If that works, will be sure to share the experience here.

  5. Pingback: Thai tofu cakes – attempt #1 | 222 million tons

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