• Tofu can make a dish, whether it's a traditional or a new recipe. (Danielle Abou Karam)Source: Danielle Abou Karam
You can cook with tofu in a multitude of ways — but one thing remains constant: the outcome is always tasty.
Michelle Tchea

20 May 2021 - 9:26 AM  UPDATED 20 May 2021 - 9:38 PM

Long before tofu was the poster child for veganism and healthy eating, I was eating it in all its glorious slurping beauty. Me and thousands of Australian kids with Asian heritage probably had tofu in one form or another in their school lunch box, not to mention the billions of people in parts of Asia who cook with it every night. Suffice to say, tofu has a loyal following. 

I remember visiting Taiwan's Hualien region and meeting a family who made tofu from just two ingredients: soybeans and water from a volcano. Rather than using synthetic coagulates, the natural minerals from the volcanic water produced firm tofu when left to rest overnight. It was fabulous. This concoction definitely puts other organic food products to shame. 

Frying, stewing, braising and steaming are all excellent ways to enjoy tofu, but the simplest way to truly prove whether you're a tofu addict or just a tofu groupie is to open a carton of fresh tofu, drizzle soy sauce and sesame oil liberally over the jiggly bean curd and eat it. 

No pressing. No cooking. Just pure unadulterated pleasure served up in a matter of seconds. 

Silken tofu with orange and ginger syrup

Tofu is such a wonderful ingredient to use for its versatility. This is a cheat’s version of tau hu nuoc duong that is easy to make at home. 

I remember when the tofu boom happened in the early 2000s. Home cooks and second-gen kids with Asian roots began eating tofu in the US, UK and Australia. We read tofu recipes in well-respected food magazines that told us to press the tofu because apparently that's how you draw out moisture, or to soak it in a brine to supposedly make tofu more flavourful or reduce its bland reputation. These directions are actually unnecessary when it comes to tofu and I'm sure many Asian cooks would agree.

If you want less moisture, just buy extra firm tofu in the Chinese grocery store and if you want tofu to take on flavour, braise it in soy sauce — et voila!

Banana blossom and crispy tofu salad

There are more than just firm and silken varieties of tofu out there. On a quick trip to your local Chinese grocer you will discover tofu varieties in varying textures: silken (for soups), soft (for stews), firm (for mapo tofu) to very firm (for stir-fries) and let's not forget tofu skin is best used for braises in Cantonese cooking or with rice in Japan.

Mapo tofu with chilli oil

This is one of my all-time favourite things to eat. If you want to convince the meat eater in your life that food can be just as good without it, or you’re looking to reduce the amount of meat you eat, this recipe is a fantastic place to start.

But let me introduce you to the wonderful world of fermented tofu. This tofu is usually stored in jars and is salty, punchy and full of flavour, so use sparingly or enjoy with a base like congee. 

While I'm slightly protective of traditional tofu recipes, the way hipsters and other home cooks have embraced soybean-based products over the the last decade has led to some great inventions too, like Adam Liaw's tofu donuts.

Other dessert possibilities include stuffing crepes with sweetened mashed tofu or making a tofu chocolate mousse, although it's hard to pass up my own favourite of sweetened tofu soup such as that found in yum cha restaurants around town. 

Dear tofu, you deserve to be a doughnut
Adam Liaw's tofu doughnuts are so easy and delicious that you'll never make doughnuts any other way. #bigcall

Memorable tofu recipes don't try and mask the fact that you're eating something healthy and that works like a blank canvas.

If you want crunch, fry some stuffed tofu and make a traditional street food snack from Indonesia or perhaps kick start your metabolism this weekend with a fiery mapo tofu. And, what even is Korean stew or Japanese udon without tofu?

There is a bounty of ideas to sink your teeth into. 

Fried tofu with spring onion and red chilli

Radio presenter Linda Marigliano shares her recipe for an easy, one-pan tofu dinner that's fragrant with a bit of heat.

My favourite way of chilling with tofu
Here's an easy Asian dessert you can make with supermarket tofu and a ginger-sweet syrup.
It's a curd to us how deliciously easy tofu really is
Silken, or extra firm, scrambled or fried – there’s almost no end to the ways this protein can be enjoyed. But what about making it from scratch at home?
Feels like home: A Korean dish that sparks soul food magic
For Soul Dining's Daero Lee, dubu duruchigi is a balm: the spicy tofu dish sends him back to the warmth of his childhood home.
Tofu scramble

You don't have to be anti-egg to be pro-tofu scramble; it's creamy and satisfying, especially when packed full of flavour like this colourful, healthy recipe. 

Salt and pepper silken tofu

Don't let the name fool you - a blend of spices elevates the humble salt and pepper tofu into a dish of addictive proportions! 

Stuffed tofu (tahu isi)

This is a recipe for a popular Indonesian snack sold by street-side vendors. The stuffed, battered and deep-fried tofu puffs are served with red hot chillies and black tea or beer to help tame the heat.