Tofu is a staple ingredient in many Asian nations but it has slowly made its way into western cuisine as well. It serves as an excellent and versatile cooking ingredient that even newbie chefs can use. While it is easy to cook with, tofu is a bit challenging to prepare due to its soft and fragile nature.
Working with tofu as is, is not that hard. However, it comes to cutting the tofu thinly, it becomes more difficult. The problem with tofu is that the thinner you slice it, the more fragile it becomes. It takes a lot of skill to actually cut tofu thinly but when you do master it, you’ll be able to create even better dishes.
Thin tofu slices are mostly used for special dishes like stews and even Japan’s famous Mapo tofu. If you are having trouble cutting it thinly, then you’ve come to the right place as we’ve got a few tips to share with you.
Invest In The Right Tools
If you think that you are going to use tofu regularly, then it would be best to invest in the right tools for the job. For the task of cutting tofu, you may want to buy a tofu press for your kitchen. This compact but highly useful kitchen equipment can do wonders for your next tofu-based dish.
To use this tool, all you need to do is place the tofu inside and then cover the entire contraption up. The device will then drain the tofu of all of the liquid that’s inside to make it more firm and fit for cutting. It’s a great tool to have if you hate working with liquidy tofu.
By making the tofu firm, it makes it easier for you to cut it thinly. You don’t have to worry about making the tofu too dry though as there is going to be enough moisture to keep it plump throughout the cooking process. What’s great about tofu presses is that they are cheap too.
Pick The Right Kind Of Tofu
There are various types of tofu. Some of them aren’t meant to be cut thinly. The tofu variant you want to buy will depend on what type of dish you want to cook. Here are the common types of tofu that you’ll see in your local market.
- Soft Tofu – It is like silken tofu and is very soft. As compared to other types of tofu, it’s the one with the most moisture. These are often used for raw tofu dishes such as Mapo Tofu. You’ll have a hard time cutting through soft tofu thinly as it’s usually made to enjoy as is.
- Medium Tofu – Is it much denser than soft tofu but that doesn’t mean it can be cut easily. It is still fairly fragile so be careful when cutting it. It can be served best with soups like miso and even traditional Korean tofu stew.
- Firm Tofu – This is the most common form of tofu and it is denser as compared to medium tofu. In cooking, it can absorb flavors very well. It can be served stir-fried and even pan-fried. You can take less caution when cutting it thinly as this tends to retain its shape more as compared to other tofu types.
- Extra-Firm Tofu – This is the very best option when it comes to slicing as it retains its shape very well. This is used often as a substitute for ground meat due to its crumbly texture. The problem with this kind of tofu though is that it can be harder to infuse other flavors with it.
- Super-Firm Tofu – This is the densest of all the tofu and it cuts pretty much like cheese. It is very easy to cut but the problem is, it can be harder to cook with. You’ll have a harder time infusing flavors with it. On top of that, it does tend to dry out very quickly too.
When it comes to cutting tofu thinly, the best choices are firm and extra-firm tofu. You wouldn’t want to go with super-firm tofu because it can compromise the quality of your dish. Soft and medium tofu will take more effort to cut thinly but it is still possible so long as you have the right tools at your disposal.
Use A Sharp Knife
No kitchen should ever have to go with a dull knife. Whether you’re cutting meat or tofu, it’s important that you use a sharp knife when it comes to cutting. For cutting tofu thinly, using a sharp-knife is even more important as it puts most of the work in your knife other than your hands.
Ideally, your knife should be sharp enough to cut through the tofu like butter. You’ll decrease the chances of ruining your tofu when using a sharp knife. Before you cut, make sure to use a whetting stone or some other grinding material so that your knife becomes as sharp as possible.
Although soft, you should never use a butter knife or a bread knife for your tofu. Any serrated edges can ruin its structure.
Use Support For Your Tofu
The problem you face when cutting tofu thinly is that it will break down as you separate a smaller portion from the chunk of tofu. That being said, adding the right support at the other end of the tofu to catch the thinner slice could potentially prevent the tofu from breaking apart.
When cutting tofu thinly, try to place it between two clean and heavy cereal boxes or other straight objects. These can serve as a guide to cutting your tofu straight. Moreover, it can prevent the tofu from falling apart after being cut thinly. Just make sure to not squeeze the tofu too much as it can still break apart.
Cutting tofu thinly can be a challenge but all you really need are the right tools and a little bit of practice. With this guide, you’ll be able to cut your tofu as thinly as possible for your next amazing dish.