There are different types of tofu, primarily distinguished from one another by their texture. Silken tofu, or Japanese-style tofu, ranges from the softest to medium-soft. Chinese-style, or hard-pressed tofu, is medium-firm to dense-firm.
The medium-firm tofu is good for slicing, freezing, and cubing. The softer form may be used the same way but it has to be drained and squeezed dry, and it does not hold its shape as well. It is best in recipes that require blending, such as mayonnaise and cheesecake. You can make tofu firmer by placing paper towels on the top and bottom of the tofu and placing a heavy chopping board on it for fifteen minutes or longer.
Look for tofu in the produce, deli, or dairy section of your supermarket, or in natural foods stores. It is packaged in water-filled tubs, vacuum packs, or aseptic containers. Some Asian markets sell tofu in bulk Tofu is perishable, so be sure to check the expiration date on the package and to keep it refrigerated after opening. Tofu in aseptic packaging will keep for a long time, but also needs to be refrigerated after being opened.
Always buy tofu in sealed containers. Tofu blocks floating in open containers of water are susceptible to bacterial contamination and may cause food poisoning. After the package is opened, tofu should be stored in distilled water that is changed daily. You should consume it within a week after you open the package. Rinse the tofu before placing it in the fresh water. Fresh tofu has a delicately sweet scent. If it starts to smell a little sour before you can use it all, boil it for twenty minutes. This will renew the tofu and plump it up.
You can also freeze tofu. Frozen tofu has a meaty texture that resembles ground beef in recipes, such as chili, spaghetti, sloppy Joss, and the like. It must be properly frozen to be good. Drain the chunk of tofu well and take a paper towel and squeeze out all the excess liquid. Let it sit for a few minutes and pat it dry again. Cut it into half-inch chunks, place them on a cookie sheet, and freeze for three to four hours. Once the tofu is frozen, move the chunks into a freezer bag. It will keep for up to five months. Once defrosted, the tofu will have a meaty, chewy texture and caramel color. Marinated, defrosted frozen tofu that is baked or grilled will taste much like tender meat.
Tofu is an incredibly versatile food. It makes a great dip just add a packet of Ham’s or Mayacamas dry soup mix (or any dry soup mix of your choice) to 1 pound of blended soft tofu and refrigerate it for a few hours. Onion, mushroom, vegetable, and even cheese soup mix is easy and delicious mixed with tofu. Another idea is to use dried minced onion or chopped chives, or dried vegetables, and season it with garlic granules, cayenne pepper, dried parsley, and a little miss or vegetable bouillon granules. For a guacamole dip, blend the tofu, ripe avocados, salsa sauce, a touch of garlic powder, and a little lemon juice. For jalapeno dip, omit the avocados and add chopped onion and jalapeno peppers and a tablespoon of oil. Always chill dips before serving them to flavor the entire dish. Experiment and create your own favorite dips. Just add blended tofu and seasoning, plus desired flavors, like dill, chive, curry, or garlic.