Tofu is a vegetarian food choice that can be used in dishes from around the world. Created from soy milk curds, tofu tastes generally bland. It may have a slightly nutty taste; however, its taste overall is mild and uneventful, like a flavorless yogurt.
With such a bland flavor, why do millions of people eat tofu worldwide? It’s simple – the bland flavor is like a blank slate, and household chefs everywhere can transform tofu into a myriad of delicious dishes for all palates.
The Different Tastes of Tofu
Since tofu is so moist, it’s important to squeeze the excess liquid out of it before eating or cooking the tofu. This will give you the most natural tofu taste without too much influence from the brine. It will also prevent your tofu from breaking while cooking, which can impact the flavors it absorbs.
Freezing your tofu before eating it has been said to extract more of its natural flavor but – remember – that natural flavor is pretty colorless. For this reason, the majority of people change tofu’s taste by adding spices, sauces, stocks, and marinades.
While you can cook your tofu directly with these flavorful additions, you can also cover it in the spices or liquids and set it aside for a few hours to better absorb the flavors. With this strategy, you can make tofu taste like almost anything!
Some people use tofu as a replacement for meats in their dishes, while it can even be added to smoothies for a boost of protein.
Does Tofu Smell?
Tofu may smell nutty or even slightly sweet on its own. The smell should be very light and it is usually lost during cooking.
If your tofu smells sour, this could mean it has gone bad. Similar to bad cheese or expired milk, tofu has a 3–5-day shelf life after opening and will begin to smell rotten if left uneaten.
What Texture Does Tofu Have?
Tofu comes in different textures which are used for different types of dishes. The more moisture it has, the softer or silkier the tofu texture. The different textures of tofu are silken, regular, firm, extra-firm, and super-firm.
- Silken tofu: This tofu will crumble to the touch. It looks like a soft cheese (think: burrata) and can even replace thick creams in some recipes. You don’t need to remove the moisture from silken tofu before cooking.
- Regular tofu: Used often in Asian cuisine, this tofu easily absorbs sauces and broths, making it great for stews, spreads, and soups. Avoid frying this type of tofu.
- Firm tofu: This is the most common tofu on the market. You should remove the moisture from this tofu before using it for frying or as a filling. It’s very easy to chop.
- Extra-firm tofu: Very similar to its firm-tofu brother, extra-firm tofu isn’t as absorbent but excels in pan-, stir-, or deep-fry dishes.
- Super-firm tofu: Excellent as a meat substitute, super-firm tofu is something you can make at home.
For added flavor, you can also buy pre-seasoned, smoked, and fermented tofu.
Whether you’re a vegetarian or not, tofu is a versatile source of protein that can be added to stir-frys, smoothies and soups, or even just grilled and eaten as a snack. The only real way to know what tofu tastes like is to try it for yourself.
Disclaimer: I have tried tofu myself and am not a fan. The texture was my biggest problem with it, it doesn’t really have a lot of taste. But, perhaps with so many interesting tofu recipes such as these to try, there might still be a tofu dish worth exploring! Try some tofu yourself and let us know what you think.