When it comes to veggie things that offer themselves as a meat replacement, we often opt for something easy like a vegan chicken alternative or soy ‘chunks’. Sometimes, tofu is left on the back-burner, mostly because people don’t know what to do with it (apart from your local Chinese takeaway – of course).
So, what is this interesting food and where does it come from?
What is tofu?
Tofu is a food made of soybean curd. It's essentially condensed soy milk pressed into solid white blocks in a process quite similar to cheesemaking. Originating in China, it's rather bland in taste. But, if prepared correctly, it can be so flavourful. Its absorbent quality means it can take a soy-chilli marinade up in a snap. Just make sure you press it first.
How is it made?
Traditionally, tofu is made from dried soybeans that are soaked in water, crushed and boiled. The mixture is then separated into soy 'milk' and pulp/curd. The pulp is drained off and poured into moulds. It can be made into several variations: extra soft (or silken), firm or extra firm – depending on the method.
Silken tofu is used in miso soup and can even be used as an ingredient for a creamy sauce, whereas its firm counterparts are the stars of the stir-fry and scramble.
Check out this video from Heaven Leigh on how to make tofu at home:
Why press your tofu?
Some types of tofu don’t require pressing, but if you’re a fan of shallow-frying or stir-frying for some crispy tofu goodness, pressing firm tofu is the best way to remove excess moisture.
It depends on your preference, but if you’re looking for a spring, crispy texture pressing is the right way to go. An advantage of tofu is that it’s so versatile. It can work in most dishes, in multiple cuisines, which is ideal if you’re more adventurous or perhaps even experimental with your cooking.
So, for all the first-timers this Veganuary, you’re most likely going to want a springy and crispy texture that mimics meat for your tasty tofu dish. For that texture, you need to press your tofu to get all of its moisture out. Also, marinating overnight isn’t a bad idea, either.
We’ve gathered the best tofu presses online to get you kitted out for your Veganuary recipes.
The best tofu presses for your Veganuary
1. Tofuture - Tofu Press
Tofuture have designed a unique tofu press that is a really practical way to get the excess water out of your tofu this Veganuary. Compact and easy to store, it can also be used as a container. Check this product on The Vegan Kind, which is full of vegan goodies.They also have a superb range of tofu.
2. Intensify Bamboo Press
If you'd prefer something with no plastic, why not opt for this sustainable bamboo press, which guarantees quick and restaurant-quality results? It's simple to use, and the design allows the excess water to gather in a tray – so no extra bowls are required.
3. TofuBud Tofu Press
TofuBud's product promises superior efficiency with its well-designed tofu press. Easy to clean and store, this press is unique because you can choose the desired pressure level for firm tofu, extra firm tofu – and even gently drain silken tofu – wow! Also, it's made from high quality recyclable, 100 per cent food-grade materials. It's safe for you and your planet.
4. That Tofu Thing - Press
This tofu press is small, compact and the single-screw design allows you to be in control of the press, so you can feel the tofu when it's perfect. Made and manufactured in the UK, this nifty bit of kitchen kit is so handy, and it's food-grade and dishwasher safe.
5. Turtle Tofu Press
Get pressing this Veganuary with this funky and awesome design. In fact, it was the winner of a university product design challenge in the United States, so you know that it's impressive and reliable. Made from bamboo, it's naturally antibacterial and is partnered with a silicone band.
6. Yokkaichi Tofu Press
If you're a connoisseur for Japanese culture - or if you just prefer something more traditional and authentic, My Japanese Home has a fantastic catalogue of Japanese furniture, decor and kitchen items. This tofu press is no exception. Crafted from wood, this press is eco-friendly and worth taking a look at.
7. Handmade Hardwood Oak Tofu Press
Crafted from oak and using stainless steel bolts, this press is finished with a food-safe oil – so you know it's up to food-grade standards. Eatroot carefully handmake this product in their workshop using traditional tools and methods. Each tofu press varies due to oak being very varied, nevertheless, there's a guarantee that you're supporting a small, sustainable UK business.
8. Noya Tofu Press
Though this press is a little pricey, it's a best seller. Simply twist the central dial, and the tofu will be pressed in half an hour. With a convenient water tray and spout, this press is designed superbly. It even comes with a cheesecloth, which is also recommended for cheese, frozen spinach and paneer.
So, if you’re a tofu fanatic or newly acquainted with the soy product, these presses will ensure that your tofu is ready for Veganuary.
Is tofu healthy? Does it contain protein?
Whether made from GMO soybeans or not, tofu is generally considered safe for human consumption. Tofu is high in protein and contains all of the essential amino acids your body needs. It also provides fats, carbs, and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals.