Pouring Boiling Water Over Tofu Is A Total Game Changer

Tofu usually comes packaged in a small pool of water, so it doesn't dehydrate, but that means that pressing the moisture out is a preparation step necessary for optimal cooking. However, pouring boiling water over tofu will not only work as an alternative to pressing but may actually be the superior way of heightening the flavor and texture. Blanching tofu isn't a new concept, either; it's a tried and true method that will bring out the best in your soybean curd. Even better, you can skip the blanche and simply pour hot and salty water over your tofu for the same result.

Drawing moisture out of tofu helps it retain its structure when exposed to high heat, which is especially important for frying or simmering firmer tofu. The soft, gelatinous, silken cubes just require surface draining since they usually fall apart anyway. However, the stiffer pieces that bear more resemblance to hard cheese need to be drained of the water from the inside. This provides more room for sauces and marinades to pack the tofu full of flavor, as well as to make the surface more conducive to browning and toasting. This can be done by physically squeezing the water out while wrapping the tofu in a paper towel, but pouring hot water on top will provide some additional benefits that may make you convert to the method.

Blanching the curd

It may sound like dipping tofu into a pot of hot saltwater may just be rehydrating it, but it actually creates the opposite effect. The heat within the water draws moisture out of the tofu rather than traveling inside. In fact, it's the salt that will coat and infuse the tofu while further pushing the water out and acting as a preseasoning in a manner not dissimilar to brining. The most unique property of giving tofu a hot water bath is its ability to bring out its natural soybean flavors. Most may think tofu is a generally mild ingredient and that its main strength lies in its ability to soak up other flavors so well, but tofu actually has a pleasantly nutty taste that can shine the brightest from this particular preparation.

Remember that you're not full-on boiling the tofu here — but merely blanching it. Some suggest simmering in salt water for a minute, which is perfect for dishes like mapo tofu. Alternatively, others stick to pouring pre-boiled salted water over tofu and letting it sit for fifteen minutes. Of course, you can take things a step further and add salt to the tofu right after the blanch, along with sesame oil, scallions, and herbs to flavor it even further. Whatever particular method you decide on, you'll see how delicious it is for tofu to get its own salt bath spa treatment.