If you’ve never tried tofu before, you might be wondering what in the world this strange, square food actually tastes like. Are you curious about what tofu is made of, how tofu is cooked, and what types of recipes can be made with tofu? Would you like to know if tofu is good for you and if it’s worth eating even if you’re not vegetarian or vegan? I want to help you explore the world of tofu, so we’ll be covering all of these things. My goal is to provide you with the tips you need to try and answer the question “what does tofu taste like?” for yourself.

What is Tofu Made Of?

Tofu is made of soy, a type of edible legume native to East Asia and commonly used in Asian cuisine (soy sauce, for example). Specifically, tofu is made by coagulating (or curdling) and pressing soy milk into blocks of curds. The process for making tofu is similar to how you’d make cottage cheese from milk (Michigan Medicine).

In its typical form, tofu looks a bit strange (like a block of white sponge) which can steer people away. You’ve probably heard that tofu is becoming more popular for people who are health-conscious, vegetarian or vegan. It’s actually not new; people have been eating tofu for decades (USC).

Tofu generally comes in three types: soft (sometimes called “silken”), firm, or extra firm. Soft tofu is incorporated in more delicate recipes to add texture or substance, while firmer versions of tofu can replace meat in just about any type of recipe, from stir-fries to soups.

It’s also great source of protein; the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires that tofu ingredients must contain at least 5 grams of protein for each serving (USDA). It’s not the same thing as meat, but it can be treated in a similar way.

How is Tofu Cooked?

Just like chicken, tofu can be cooked in a huge variety of ways depending on how fast you want to cook it and what you want it to taste like. Tofu is packaged with water, so water from the package should be drained before cooking (firm and extra firm tofu needs to be pressed with a paper towel to get out the extra moisture). Common ways to cook tofu include:

  • Sautéing or pan-frying: Using a non-stick skillet preheated to medium is a great way to cook tofu cubes or steaks that can be mixed in with other dishes, such as rice or noodles. Cooking times will depend on the thickness of the tofu, but it can take as long as 5 minutes per side for bigger pieces.
  • Baking: Tofu can be used in baking recipes such as lasagna (instead of cheese), cheesecake (for the filling), or as a steak for sandwiches and snacks.
  • Blending: Mixing silken tofu in a blender is a great way to add silkiness and thickness to smoothies, dressings, sauces, mousse, puddings and more.

Why Should I Try Tofu?

  • Tofu is versatile. You can use tofu in just about anything, including both sweet and savory recipes. Why? It acts as a base ingredient that you can build on however you want because of how well it absorbs whatever flavor it’s paired with. It also adds a depth of texture; for example, tofu can be used to replace cream in many desserts and dips, so you can get the feeling of creaminess without the extra calories.
  • Tofu is a great meat substitute. If you can’t or choose not to eat meat, tofu is a vegan product, meaning it is not derived from animal products. As long as it’s properly cooked and seasoned, it can be used as a replacement for many meat dishes with little sacrifice to taste. It also contains plenty of protein, B-vitamins and iron, which are essential nutrients for meatless diets.
  • Tofu has some nutritional value. Tofu actually made the list for 11 foods that lower cholesterol from Harvard Health Publications based on its ability to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol by 6% if you eat about 10 ounces of tofu a day (HU).
what does tofu taste like

What Does Tofu Taste Like? Tips for Achieving the Best Flavor

When it comes to cooking and eating tofu, the first thing to know is the taste entirely depends on what you cook it with. Tofu by itself is mostly bland and mild-tasting, so the best way to use it is to season or marinate it with flavors best suited to your taste. Here’s a few tips for ensuring your tofu tastes delicious:

  • Drain it (if needed). By sufficiently pressing and draining firmer tofu, you’re helping to make sure it gets most of its flavor from marinade and seasonings. 
  • Cut it properly. Tofu that’s cut too thick has the chance of being bland in the middle; smaller, thinner cuts are generally better, but it also depends on the recipe.
  • Season it. Try using seasonings such as salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, garlic powder and dried herbs for fuller flavor.
  • Marinate it. Marinating tofu in flavorful juices will make for a more delicious result – try different combinations of soy sauce, orange juice, fresh grated garlic, fresh ginger, rice wine vinegar, lime juice, or honey.

Discover the Taste of Tofu for Yourself by Trying Different Recipes!

Tofu is a plant-based food made from soy beans and it’s incredibly efficient at absorbing flavors, making it the ideal base ingredient to build from. If you’re interested in finding out what tofu tastes like, there’s plenty of recipes to try no matter your cravings, such as:

  • Tofu cubes instead of chicken for a vegetarian stir fry with your choice of sauce
  • Blended tofu for smoothies (you can even use it to substitute yogurt if you’re lactose intolerant)
  • Tofu as a substitute for sour cream or mayonnaise in salad dressings and dips
  • Tofu burgers (mashing tofu into crumbles and mixing with onions, spices, egg, and oats to form patties).

Your only limit is your creativity! If you have any questions about what tofu tastes like or how to cook tofu, feel free to comment below.