Types of Tofu dishes

Tofu, also called bean curd, is a plant-based food made of condensed soymilk. Rich in protein and less in calories, tofu is obtainable in solid white blocks with a neutral, bland taste. Its absorbent texture allows it to easily take on sauces, seasonings, and marinades. You can even bake it as an addition to savory dishes or puree it to make desserts. This gluten-free food is also a popular meat replacement in vegan dishes.

4 ounces of tofu offers  

  • 96 calories and 12 grams of protein,  
  • 4 grams of carbohydrates,  
  • 4.7 grams of fat,  
  • 1.9 milligrams of iron, and  
  • 166 milligrams of calcium.  

Its low saturated fat content makes it a heart-healthy choice, while few carbohydrates are the perfect inclusion in a ketogenic diet. Tofu is categorized by consistency or texture, further determined by its water content. The more water, the silkier or softer the tofu; less water makes the tofu firmer. On that note, here are the six most common types of tofu. 

1. Silken Tofu 

Also called Japanese-style tofu, silken tofu is creamy and silky with the highest water content. This unpressed, undrained tofu has a custardy texture and varied consistencies based on the amount of soy protein it contains.

Made without pressing, soy milk is first coagulated in a mold without making curds, thus creating super-soft tofu that works well in blended and creamy foods, such as cheesecakes, smoothies, ravioli fillings, salad dressings, puddings, desserts, dips, and sauces. While wet, use silken tofu to prepare several dishes or as a good egg substitute in baking.

Smooth and delicate, silken tofu can be eaten cubed, raw, or dropped into the broth and even pureed. You can also have it as is, topped with soy sauce, bonito flakes, and grated ginger. While 77% of the U.S. Soy is used to feed livestock for dairy and meat production, 7% goes into making silken tofu, edamame beans, tempeh, and soy milk.

2. Firm Tofu 

Of all the different varieties of tofu, firm tofu is most widely available in supermarkets. Compact and solid with tight, visible curds that spring back when pressed gently, firm tofu is generally available soaked in liquid, with the amount depending on the package type. It is more like feta that does not crumble when you pick it up and is also easy to chop.

Firm tofu holds up very well to stir-frying, pan-frying, deep-frying, and searing, or you may even have it raw. It can also be used in stews, making spreads, and filling in varied recipes. Ensure it is scorched before cooking to easily absorb the marinade and splatter less in the pan.

You can also freeze it before cooking to give it a meatier texture. Buy it seasoned or smoked to be used in different savory recipes. It is best used to make Japanese-style salad: cubed, chilled, and tossed with scallions and ginger-soy salad dressing or for Hakka-style stuffed tofu.

Tofu, Soybeans.

3. Extra-Firm Tofu  

Manufacturers press extra-firm tofu to an extent to extract all the moisture to get the hearty consistency, which is best for baking, slicing, shredding, crumbling, and cubing. Extra-firm tofu cannot absorb marinades very well. 

Dense, solid, and chewier than the other tofu varieties, extra-firm tofu generally requires minimal pressing and is best used when you want your protein to hold shape. Its cubes stand up very well to stir-frying, while the slices are good for battering, pan-searing, frying, grilling, or flipping without falling apart. You may even crumble it and use it as a filling for vegan chorizo and dumplings. 

tofu cubes with omlette

4. Soft Tofu 

Pressed for the minimum amount of time, soft tofu is high in moisture content, with a more delicate and lighter consistency than the other block-style tofus. It is excellent for both savory and sweet dishes. Though it is smoother than the former tofus available in the market, it shows a rough texture when broken

Since you need to handle soft tofu gently, pressing it to a point where it expels its additional moisture is difficult. You can use either pureed or raw, or for the best results, batter, boil, braise, or deep-fry soft tofu to make different dishes.

For an extra dose of protein, puree it into a delicious smoothie or enjoy it in Korean soft tofu stew. When raw, dress soft tofu with sesame seeds and soy-based vinaigrette. 

5. Baked or Smoked Tofu 

Baked or Smoked Tofu 

Smoked or baked tofu is typically extra-firm to firm, seasoned, and cooked to an extent where moisture is pulled out of the curd leaving behind an extra flavor. Dense with low moisture content and a chewy crust, baked or smoked tofu can be consumed right out of its package because it is seasoned and is available in ready-to-eat form. You can use smoked or baked tofu as your protein carrier in salads or as a substitute for pork or shrimp in Vietnamese-style rice paper rolls. You can even slice it and have it raw. 

6. Fried Tofu 

Fried tofu is made by firmly pressing and deep-frying slices of tofu in oil long enough for the water within to evaporate. It is sponge-like and soft tofu that quickly soaks up sauces and marinades. As Japanese aburaage or soy nuggets, these delicious morsels can be added to different stir-fries, such as meat, stuffed with rice to prepare inarizushi, or sliced into strips to give extra texture to soups and salads. 


So, you can use these types of tofu for dishes like smoothies, stir-fries, sauces, soups, and desserts. The compounds in this soy product protect against illnesses like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Therefore, it makes one of the best additions to a balanced and healthy diet. But ensure to consult a doctor before including it in your diet.  

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