I love pressed tofu for a myriad of reasons. It has a different texture than its non-pressed counter part. It soaks up marinade better and holds together nicely in stir fries. I’ve heard too that squirrels do not like pressed tofu, but that may just be a rumor. Squirrels are also supposed to hate marigolds, but I don’t want to talk about that.
You can buy a contraption made for the sole purpose of pressing tofu – it’s called a Tofu Press (go figure) and is basically a little vise that squeezes all the water out of the tofu block for you. But 1) I’ve already done the vise in my kitchen routine, b) I don’t want to buy one and three) no one has offered to send me one for free.
I guess that leaves me with no choice but to press my tofu like the cavemen did: with something heavy.
So let’s begin. Start with one block of extra firm tofu:
To get equally sized slabs, I slice the whole thing in half, then each half is sliced in half, and finally each quarter is sliced in half. This gives you the best shot at eight “equally sized slabs” vs. one large slab, five medium slabs, one small slab and one sliver slab.
Cover your cutting board with a (I hope this goes without saying) clean dish towel and then lay out your tofu slices into semi-compact rows.
Now it’s time begin the construction of your homemade tofu press:
Did ya follow all that?
That’d be 3 or 4 paper towels, (folded and layered), another (clean) dish towel, a wooden cutting board, (yet another) cutting board, the weight you keep with your old 30 Day Shred DVD and then slide the whole thing into the fridge. Presto presso!
You want the weight as evenly distributed as possible, so the bottom-most layer of your cutting-board-hand-weight press should be the widest and cover the most surface area, then you can pyramid up as needed.
As an added bonus, that final contraption in your refrigerator will likely be a wondrous source of amusement and entertainment for any children wandering in and out of your kitchen. How I survived the peppering of questions and Fridge Door Opening Marathon of 2011 is a small miracle.
An hour or two in the press should be enough to turn your once extra firm tofu into extra extra firm tofu.
Call me crazy, but for some reason I hesitate to compare something I’m going to cook, serve and eat to a dirty old kitchen sponge. But as the case may be, that happens to be the perfect comparison for pressed tofu: a wrung out sponge.
Squeezed of its water, this tofu is ready and eager to soak up whatever you might need to wipe up off the counter – or perhaps just soak up some marinade. The choice is yours.
My pressed tofu spent its final hours in a simple mix of Braggs, rice vinegar, canola, one clove of garlic (minced), salt and pepper. It was then sauteed in a couple tablespoons of coconut oil (or any oil you might use to saute vegetables in). Flip occasionally until the desired level of crispness is reached. Total cooking time was approximately 15 minutes.
“Fried” might be more accurate than “sauteed” – but me and my healthy cooking conscious like the word “sauteed” better, so we’re going with that. Baking these in the oven (at 350 for 15 – 20 minutes, don’t forget to flip them) could be an option as well.
Served atop homegrown greens tossed in a homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing with shredded carrots and red pepper slices.
Prehistoric, squirrel-proof tofu – just the way I like it.