What Should I Do With This Tofu?

I have a friend who's a super-good cook; I'm actually Gchatting with her right now as I write this (Meatless Multitasking Monday!). We were grilling those awesomely fatty beer and cheddar-spiked Brooklyn Brats over the weekend (Spectacular Sausage Saturday!) when I realized I didn't have a plan for today's What To Eat For Lunch. That's why I'm taking up so much space with the intro. Also, we respectably approached the bottom of a two-bottle pitcher of nectarine sangria and I'd like to congratulate us on that.

"I have this tofu I don't know what to do with. I've never made it before," she said, adjusting the sausages on the grill.

Now I'm not here to blow up Kaitlyn's spot or anything, but last winter she made a duck ragu on homemade pasta that was akin to duck-butter on wisps of heaven. She always makes homemade pasta. And pizza dough. And everything. I've witnessed this girl achieve a crisp sear on the goat-cheesiest, most buttery polenta rounds...just, stop. So I humbly offer my favorite ways to make tofu, if next time we cook you make those.

Bake it

Drain extra-firm tofu as thoroughly as you possibly can, using a dish towel so you don't use a whole roll of paper towels. Tofu retains water like crazy, and waterlogged tofu won't bake properly. It'll awkwardly steam and not have that nice, tight, chewy texture that makes baked tofu awesome.

Grill it

It soaks up flavor better than even the most fork-perforated chicken breast (don't do this, folks, you're creating outlets for the juices that are keeping your chicken breast "exciting.") Slap tofu on an extra-hot super-clean grill and give it the barbecue treatment. Or the Asian barbecue treatment.

Punch it up

People are amazed when I show them this crazy tofu hack. If you insist it has no flavor even after properly draining and diligently marinating, try freezing, thawing and THEN having your way with it.

Don't cook it at all, not even the tiniest bit

Hiyayakko tofu is one of my favorite summer dishes, especially when the temperature spikes. A big block of chilled silken tofu is straight-up nutrition, whether you douse it with ponzu and sprinkle with bonito flakes and scallions or crunchy dried baby anchovies (I will break Meatless Monday for crunchy baby anchovies, I'm sorry). It's super easy to tote along a brick of the good stuff and separate container of Asian accoutrements, cause it's best right after assembly. Also good in bite-size.

I'm not surprised I don't remember what we agreed to cook next time, but let's make sure it doesn't fall on a Monday, cause tofu exploration is best done on one's own time. Let's be realistic: it's not going to take down a Brooklyn Brat.

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