7 Ways To Make Tofu The Star Of Your Dinner Tonight

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Though Veganuary and its annual plant-based challenge may be over, many Brits are still looking for innovative ways to incorporate more vegan-friendly ingredients and organic whole foods into their meals. 

Tofu, a versatile and nutritious soy product, is a staple in vegan diets and can be transformed into a myriad of delightful dishes. Whether you’re a seasoned vegan or just dipping your toes into plant-based waters, here are 7 tantalising tofu recipes to spruce up your dinner tonight.

Firstly, What Exactly Is Tofu?

Tofu, hailed as a plant-based marvel, is a food crafted from condensed soy milk that is then pressed into solid white blocks in a process quite similar to cheesemaking. Originating from ancient China, tofu has become a global staple in vegetarian and vegan diets due to its high protein content, versatility, and ability to absorb flavours. It’s made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into soft white blocks. 

This nutrient-dense food is not only rich in protein but also contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source. It’s also a valuable plant-based source of iron, calcium, and other minerals, which contributes to its popularity among those following a vegan lifestyle.

Some Of The Different Types Of Tofu Available

When perusing the tofu section, you’ll encounter a variety of types, each suited to different culinary applications. The spectrum ranges from silken tofu, which has a custard-like texture and is perfect for blending into smoothies, desserts, or creamy sauces, to extra-firm tofu, which holds its shape well and is ideal for grilling, frying, or adding a meaty texture to dishes. 

In between these two extremes, there’s firm tofu, a versatile all-rounder that can be used in stir-fries, scrambles, and even baked goods. Soft tofu, which is slightly less dense than firm tofu, can be used in soups like the Korean sundubu-jjigae

Beyond these, there’s also sprouted tofu, made from sprouted soybeans, and smoked tofu, which has a robust flavour profile, adding a unique twist to any dish. Each type of tofu has its unique texture and absorbency level, making it a chameleon of the kitchen, ready to take on the flavours and textures of your chosen culinary adventure.

7 Recipes To Make Tofu The Star Of Your Meal

Firm Tofu & Vegetable Stir Fry: A Crisp, Crunchy Delight

For those who prefer a bit of bite in their meals, a firm tofu and vegetable stir fry is the way to go. It’s a quick, healthy, and colourful dish that’s packed with nutrients and can be tailored to your taste.

How To Make Firm Tofu & Vegetable Stir Fry

Ingredients

  • 400g block of firm tofu, pressed and cubed
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 courgette, sliced into half-moons
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons of garlic granules
  • 1 tablespoon of ground ginger
  • Sesame seeds (for garnish)

Instructions

  1. Heat the sesame oil in a large wok or frying pan over high heat.
  2. Add the tofu cubes and fry until all sides are golden brown. Remove the tofu and set aside.
  3. In the same wok, add the bell peppers, courgette, and carrot. Stir-fry for a few minutes until just tender but still crisp.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, maple syrup, ginger, and garlic.
  5. Add the fried tofu back into the wok with the vegetables.
  6. Pour the sauce over the tofu and vegetables, tossing everything together to coat well.
  7. Cook for another minute or two, then remove from heat.
  8. Serve immediately, sprinkled with sesame seeds for an extra crunch.

Whipped Tofu: A Creamy Delight

Move over, soft cheese! There’s a new creamy sensation in town, and it’s entirely plant-based. Whipped tofu can be a delightful substitute for soft cheese, offering a similar texture with a fraction of the calories and none of the dairy. It’s perfect for those looking to maintain a vegan diet without sacrificing the creamy indulgence of cheese.

How To Make Whipped Tofu:

Ingredients

  • 400g block of silken tofu, drained
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh herbs (optional, for garnish)

Instructions

  1. In a blender or food processor, combine the silken tofu, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and minced garlic.
  2. Blend until the mixture is completely smooth and has a whipped consistency.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Transfer to a bowl and garnish with fresh herbs if desired.
  5. Serve as a dip with crudites, spread on crackers, or dollop on top of a hearty vegan salad.

Vegan Mapo Tofu: A Savoury, Spicy Sichuan Sensation

Mapo tofu is a classic Sichuan dish that’s bursting with flavour. It’s a fiery, piquant, and utterly satisfying meal that will warm you from the inside out. The combination of soft tofu and aromatic spices makes it a must-try dish for anyone exploring vegan cuisine.

How To Make Vegan Mapo Tofu

Ingredients

  • 400g block of silken tofu, cubed
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 tbsp Sichuan bean paste
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 100g shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground Sichuan pepper
  • 300ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp cornflour, mixed with 2 tbsp water
  • Spring onions, sliced (for garnish)

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the Sichuan bean paste, ginger, and garlic, and fry for a minute until fragrant.
  3. Stir in the chopped shiitake mushrooms and cook for another couple of minutes.
  4. Gently add the tofu cubes to the wok, trying not to break them.
  5. Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer.
  6. Add the ground Sichuan pepper and let the mixture cook for about 10 minutes.
  7. Stir in the cornflour mixture and cook until the sauce thickens.
  8. Serve hot, garnished with spring onions, alongside steamed rice or noodles.

Tofu Katsu Curry: A Japanese Classic With A Twist

Tofu katsu curry is a vegan take on the beloved Japanese dish. With crispy breaded tofu and a rich, aromatic curry sauce, it’s a dish that offers comfort and flavour in every bite.

How To Make Tofu Katsu Curry

Ingredients

  • 400g block of extra-firm tofu, pressed and sliced into 1cm thick pieces
  • 100g panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp plant-based milk
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

For the curry sauce

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 tbsp curry powder
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp garam masala

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Set up a panné station with three bowls: one with flour mixed with curry powder, one with plant-based milk mixed with soy sauce, and one with panko breadcrumbs.
  3. Dip each tofu slice into the flour, then the milk mixture, and finally coat with breadcrumbs.
  4. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry each tofu piece until golden brown on both sides. Then transfer to the oven to cook for a further 10 minutes.
  5. For the curry sauce, sauté the onion and carrots in a saucepan until softened. Add the curry powder and cook for a minute.
  6. Pour in the vegetable stock, soy sauce, and maple syrup. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Blend the sauce until smooth, return to the pan, and add garam masala. Cook for another 5 minutes.
  8. Serve the crispy tofu katsu with the curry sauce and steamed rice.

Tofu Scramble: A Breakfast-For-Dinner Favourite

Photo by Kevin McCutcheon on Unsplash

Who says tofu is just for dinner? And, who says only eggs are for scrambling? A tofu scramble is a perfect breakfast-for-dinner option, packed with protein and veggies, and bursting with flavour.

How To Make Tofu Scramble

Ingredients

  • 400g block of firm tofu, crumbled
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 100g baby spinach
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • Fresh chives, chopped (for garnish)

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and bell pepper, and sauté until softened.
  3. Stir in the crumbled tofu and spices (turmeric, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper). Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add the spinach and tomato, and cook until the spinach has wilted.
  5. Garnish with fresh chives and serve with toasted sourdough or as part of a larger breakfast platter.

Tofu Tikka Masala: An Indian-Inspired Curry

This tofu tikka masala is a vegan version of the classic Indian dish. It’s creamy, spicy, and full of depth, making it a perfect comfort food for a chilly evening.

How To Make Tofu Tikka Masala

Ingredients

  • 400g block of extra-firm tofu, pressed and cubed
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 can (400g) chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can (400ml) coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • Fresh coriander, chopped (for garnish)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Toss the tofu cubes with a little oil and spread them on a baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes until crispy.
  3. Heat the oil in a large pan and sauté the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook for another minute.
  4. Stir in the spices and cook for a couple of minutes until fragrant.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes and coconut milk, and bring to a simmer.
  6. Add the baked tofu cubes to the sauce and let it simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Garnish with fresh coriander and serve with basmati rice or naan bread.

Tofu & Peanut Butter Stir Fry: A Nutty Delight

Delicious whether you’re a vegan or not, this stir fry combines the savoury taste of tofu with the creamy richness of peanut butter, creating a dish that’s both nutritious and indulgent.

How To Make Tofu & Peanut Butter Stir Fry

Ingredients

  • 400g block of firm tofu, pressed and cubed
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 courgette, sliced into half-moons

For the peanut sauce

  • 3 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • Water, to thin

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large wok or frying pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the tofu cubes and fry until golden brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. In the same pan, add the bell peppers and courgette, and stir-fry until tender-crisp.
  4. For the peanut sauce, whisk together all the ingredients in a bowl, adding water as needed to reach the desired consistency.
  5. Return the tofu to the pan with the vegetables, pour over the peanut sauce, and toss to coat.
  6. Serve hot with steamed rice or noodles, garnished with chopped peanuts and fresh coriander if desired.

The Bottom Line

Each of these recipes showcases the incredible adaptability of tofu, making it a fantastic ingredient for vegan cooking. Whether you’re craving something exotic, comforting, or quick and easy, tofu has got you covered this Veganuary. Enjoy experimenting with these dishes and discover the joy of plant-based eating!

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