Frozen tofu is one of the best kept secrets of tofu cuisine. Once you discover how to freeze sliced tofu, you may never use fresh tofu again.
Makes 4 Servings
Three forms of sliced tofu; fresh, frozen, and thawed (l to r).
Can you Freeze Tofu? Yes you can!
I have a confession to make. Since I am a vegetarian, I am always on the lookout for a good source of protein like tofu. But I do not like fresh, uncooked tofu. I never have and probably never will. Sometimes I use it cubed in salad. But that’s it. Notice that I said “fresh” tofu. I prefer tofu when it is cooked such as in Crumbled Tofu or Ground Beef Tofu. For me, fresh tofu tastes raw. But there is one variation of tofu that is frequently overlooked. That is frozen tofu.
Why frozen tofu.
Sliced frozen tofu is probably the best kept secret in the world of tofu cuisine. There are some tofu cookbooks that never even mention frozen tofu at all. I have even seen some posts on the internet that advise their readers to NEVER freeze their tofu. This is hard to understand because the Japanese have been freezing tofu for almost a thousand years. So be aware that not everyone agrees with me.
I first learned about frozen tofu when reading The Book of Tofu by William Shurtleff back in the 1970s. Freezing tofu changes the flavor and gives it a meatier texture. When you freeze tofu, the water in the tofu (which is 86 percent by weight) becomes ice and separates from the soybean protein fibers creating a lacy sort of micro-sponge. After it has been frozen for at least eight hours, then it is allowed to thaw on a counter or defrost in the microwave. Once it has been thawed, then it can be pressed to remove most of the water. For detailed instructions on how to press thawed tofu, please read this post on how to press frozen sliced tofu.
The Benefits of frozen tofu:
- Frozen tofu will keep much longer in the freezer than fresh tofu in the refrigerator. Frozen tofu will keep up to six months without spoiling.
- Once thawed, the frozen tofu has a meatier texture and does not fall apart as easily as fresh tofu. This allows it to be used as a substitute for chicken or fish.
- It only takes 5 to 10 seconds to press a slice of thawed tofu between the palms of you hands to remove the water. This means that you can press an entire block of sliced tofu in about a minute and a half, as opposed to 30 minutes for fresh tofu.
- Because of its sponge-like texture, it absorbs more marinade or sauce in much less time than fresh tofu.
- Frozen tofu turns crispy when fried.
The only drawback is that once the tofu is frozen, it can’t be used to make Crumbled Tofu or Ground Beef Tofu.
It is best to slice the tofu before you freeze it rather than freezing the block of tofu as a whole. Fresh tofu is easier to slice than a frozen block of tofu. This also makes it possible to thaw and use a small portion of tofu without defrosting the whole block.
Please note: The frozen tofu will change color. It turns to the amber color of the soybeans that it was originally made from. This does not mean that the tofu is spoiled or has freezer burn. It is completely normal. Then when you defrost the frozen tofu, it turns to a light tan color similar to the original creamy white color of fresh tofu.