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Types of Tofu and How to Use Them

Do you know your silken from your smoked? The world of tofu can seem intimidating if you're not used to the lingo. (Extra firm, firm, silken?) And then you need to be able to choose the right type of tofu for your dish. Most recipes will specify the kind you'll need, but really understanding your options can spark creativity. Tofu isn't just for stir fries! From smoothies to burgers to pies, tofu isn't bland or boring when you know what you're doing.

Here's how to use firm tofu, silken tofu, fried tofu, smoked tofu, and ready-marinated tofu, including top tips and tasty recipes to inspire you.

How to Use Firm Tofu

The original tofu, and the type of tofu we use most in our recipes. Firm tofu is easy to cut into cubes and will keep its shape for stir frying and deep frying. To prepare firm tofu, drain off the liquid and pat dry with kitchen paper. Then slice or cube and marinate if you'd like. For extra firmness, you can squeeze out liquid from the tofu by wrapping the tofu in kitchen paper or a clean tea-towel, cover with a chopping board and adding a heavy weight on top. Leave for 1 hour and you will find that more liquid has seeped out and the tofu is drier and firmer and ideal for making kebabs.

Numerous brands now produce firm tofu - Clear Spot, Dragonfly and Cauldron to name just a few, and most major supermarkets stock it in the veggie-friendly refrigerator section.

Firm Tofu Recipes

How to Use Silken Tofu

Silken tofu is often used as a substitute for eggs or cream. Do NOT try to stir fry this stuff - you will be disappointed. You'll see "Soft Silken Tofu" and "Firm Silken Tofu". Soft silken tofu is, well, REALLY soft and will fall apart in your fingers, ideal for smoothies, custards, sauces and puddings - we like Clearspring's Organic Soft Silken Tofu. Firm silken tofu holds its shape and can be cut into cubes (great for miso soup) but also works for dips and puddings.

Silken Tofu Recipes

How to Use Fried Tofu

Puffed up spongy texture. Great to add to soups to soak up flavour and give texture. You can find it in Chinese supermarkets. Wai Yee Hong in Bristol sells it as Tofu Puff.

Fried Tofu Recipes

How to Use Smoked Tofu

A delightful smoky flavour and is delicious served cold in a salad. Smoked tofu is super handy - the smoked tofu range from Taifun is delicious sliced up and eaten raw, or stuffed into sandwiches.

Smoked Tofu Recipes

How to Use Ready-marinated Tofu

Saves you having to marinate plain tofu and is ready to eat. Clear Spot makes an organic marinated tofu that's really handy for stir fries and scrambles. You can also find Cauldron marinated tofu in most major supermarkets nowadays.

Marinated Tofu Recipes

For more tofu inspiration, check out our post on How to Cook with Tofu or sign up for one of our Far Eastern Cookery Courses.

Delicious food photography by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures.

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