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