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Whenever I share a recipe with tofu, I usually get a few questions asking to get into more detail for how to make tofu crispy and flavorful.
Tofu can sound intimidating and it gets a bad reputation. But I truly believe that people who don’t like tofu only don’t like it because it wasn’t made properly. The beauty of tofu is that it can take on pretty much whatever flavor you want to give it.
I first started incorporating tofu into my diet for two reasons:
Alongside my tips, I'll be including the recipe for how I make one of my favorite Japanese meals: yakiudon, a stir-fried noodle dish!
Yakiudon ingredients (serves 4)
How to make yakiudon
Let’s quickly do some myth busting here. Because it’s soy-based, a lot of people worry about an increased breast cancer risk. But (per the Mayo Clinic) studies have actually shown the opposite: eating a moderate amount of soy foods will not increase your risk of cancer, including breast cancer. The studies also show that a diet rich in soy foods can reduce your breast cancer risk!
This is because there are pretty low levels of plant estrogens (called isoflavones) in tofu and other soy foods like edamame and soy milk. These levels aren’t high enough to cause an increase. The same does not hold true for isaflavone supplements, though, so just be sure to chat with your doctor before taking any supplements (especially if you have concerns).
Tips for crispy tofu
In my experience, the key to crispy tofu is making sure you properly drain it. Some people like to freeze their tofu before letting it thaw and then draining it because then, you can get some nice little pockets in your tofu for texture. But I don’t think this is necessary if you, like me, frequently forget to freeze it or are trying to make it more quickly and don’t want to wait for it as long.
I like to take my tofu out of the packaging, place it on a towel, and then wrap it tightly in the towel and press it between two cutting boards. Anthony has a large wood cutting board and we also have a smaller marble pastry board, so I’ll use the wood one as a base and then put the pastry board on top.
I let it sit like this for at least 30 minutes, but if I need to expedite the process, I’ll take a dumbbell and place it on top of the pastry board to help speed the process along. If you’re letting it sit for a while, though, I’d recommend using a thicker towel or swapping it out after some time to make sure you’re really getting all the moisture out of the tofu.
You can also press the tofu block in your hands to drain it, but sandwiching it between two heavy objects is easier for me and I know that way, all the moisture is gone.
Tips for more flavorful tofu
The key to flavorful tofu is giving it enough time to marinate. Once I’ve drained my tofu, I’ll dice it up, put it in a bowl with my marinade or sauce of choice, and then just let it hang out in the fridge until I’m ready to cook it. I like to let it marinate for at least an hour but the longer, the better.
Then, once you are ready, you can bake, air fry, or pan fry it. If I’m baking or air frying, I like to do so at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. I’ll start at 15 minutes and then go in 5 minute intervals if I want it crispier. The best way is to have it still be a bit soft on the inside, so you don’t want to overcook it.
Have a food from an anime that you want me to try to recreate? Let me know in the comments below! Plus, follow me on TikTok to see the behind the scenes of how this was made.
Jessica is a huge Disney, anime, and Star Wars nerd who channeled that love into motivation to lose 75 lbs.