Today I want to give some helpful information about tofu, but I think it’s important to explain why first.
Picture this: you’re a new vegan, and you don’t know a lot about it yet, but you know two things: vegans eat tofu, and vegans eat “vegan food.” So you go to the mall and buy some tofu and a vegan cookbook. (I know, I know, veganism is about more than tofu and there are great recipes in a lot of non-vegan books, but this is Week One of veganism for someone, give them a couple more days, OK?)
There are a ton of amazing vegan cookbooks out there, and the variety seems to be increasing almost every day, but I keep seeing the same oversight in just about all of them: they screw up the tofu recipes almost every time.
The Three Types of Tofu
There are more, but for the purposes of cooking, there are three main types of tofu you can buy, and they’re interchangeable to some extent, but your meal is going to come out differently depending on which one you use.
Sadly, most recipes I look at only say “tofu” without explaining which one to get, so I want to do two things today: explain the three types, and put out an open call to cookbook authors, vegan and non, to please explain this in their books!
Seriously, I think it’s a danger to outreach when people go to the grocery store to get tofu for this recipe that’s going to kick-start their vegan life, and then they see a whole bunch of different types and have no idea which one to get. Some people will, quite honestly, give up right there, and others will buy the wrong one, try a meal, think it sucks, and give up as well. Others will stick to their newfound moral resolve and suffer through less-than-optimal meals day after day, and they should be commended for that, but they also need to know that veganism doesn’t need to be that hard.
Basically, there are three main types of tofu you’ll be dealing with: tub, brick, and silken.
So which one do you use in a recipe? Good question! If the recipe says “medium tofu” I’ll usually use tub tofu, but the rest is an educated guess – if it’s something where I think I’ll want chunks, I’ll tend towards the brick, but if it’s going to be blended up or I suspect soft is better, I’ll try the tub. The key is to write down what you tried and how it worked next to the recipe so you don’t have to guess every time you make it!
If you want to know more about tofu, we shot a video last year that explains this with examples and some tips for how to work with the stuff. This was (and still is) part of a 7 day course we made to promote some cooking DVDs, but as I said in this week’s newsletter (it’s not too late to sign up!), we haven’t been promoting it recently because I want to rework the format of the course. You can take the full course if you want, but I just want to be clear that my intent today is just to teach you about tofu and not to sell you stuff, so enjoy the tofu video and let us know in the comments if you have any questions or more tips to share.