Ah, pressing tofu: a daunting new skill that must be attained by vegetarians and vegans everywhere. When this was first presented to me, I was simply baffled. I think the first explanation I got involved cheesecloth; that didn't help matters much. And because I didn't have anyone to simply show me how the thing was done, I was overwhelmed by what is actually a very simple task. I'm putting this out into the cloud for anyone who, like I once did, needs a little bit of help that they cannot find amongst omni friends who think that tofu is weirdo hippie food.
Step negative one: buy some tofu. Our favorite by far is Nasoya Extra Firm.
Step zero: open the package and pour out all of the excess water. See, tofu is almost like a cheese made from soybeans. The tofu is the curds, and you have to drain off the whey. Kind of. You'll get used to handling the block of tofu. And by the bye, if you should ever come across a block that's gone bad, don't worry, there's really no question about it - you'll know.
Step one: Get set to press. Put your block of tofu, relatively centered, on a dinner plate that's completely flat, except at the edges where it flares up. You know the kind. Handle the block gently; it's important that it maintains structural integrity.
Step two: Make a sandwich. Place a second dinner plate equally as flat on top of the block of tofu, so that the tofu is sandwiched between the two plates and they are centered over each other.
Step three: Get heavy. Place an object that weighs approximately two to three pounds on top of the plate-and-tofu sandwich. If it's too heavy, it will simply squash the tofu to bits, which sort of defies the point. I like using textbooks because it distributes the weight across the plate.
Step four: Observe seepage. Watch as the liquid seeps out of your tofu. You don't have to literally watch; that would be like watching paint dry. But keep tabs on it; make sure that the top plate stays flat and re-balance it if it starts to tilt. Once a significant amount of liquid has accumulated you can remove the top plate+weight and drain off the liquid, then resume pressing.
Step five: Stop pressuring me! After about half an hour to forty minutes of pressing, the tofu will stop releasing liquid. It's pretty hard to over-press, so don't worry about doing it for "too long"; your only concern is not doing it for long enough. This can lead to soggy tofu, which is not exactly appetizing and doesn't work in most dishes. Simply remove the top part of the apparatus and dump the expelled liquid; your block of tofu is now pressed and good to go.
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Once you think that it's given up all that it's gonna, you can move on to your next step of preparation. Depending on what your end goal is, that could be any number of things, including mashing for a scramble, slicing for a fry, or cubing for a marinade. Tofu is quite versatile and readily absorbs flavors. When properly prepared, the sky's the limit as to what it will happily do for you.
Disclaimer: I did not make this pincushion! Scroll over (and then click on) the picture to be taken to another utterly delightful vegan blog.