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How Long to Marinate Tofu

How Long to Marinate Tofu

Tofu is often associated with a vegan lifestyle. However most people struggle with cooking tofu, but the trick is to marinate the tofu before cooking it. 

Marinating tofu adds an unexplainable amount of flavor to tofu. However, the secret to marinating tofu is to marinate it for the right amount of time. 

Does Marinating Tofu Do Anything?

Although there may be tofu purists out there, the truth is that tofu has little to no flavor. This is one of the reasons tofu can be used in nearly any cuisine. 

Nevertheless, some people enjoy the relatively flavorless taste of tofu. Furthermore, there are some instances where tofu does not need to be marinated.

For example, if you are making a sauce or vegan cheesecake, there’s no need to marinate tofu. 

However, when substituting tofu for meat, or if it is the main ingredient, it’s best to marinate it unless you are cooking it in a sauce. The tofu will absorb all the flavors in the marinade like a sponge soaks up water. 

Moreover, simply seasoning the tofu does not suffice, as the flavor will not penetrate the center of the tofu. It only penetrates the surface of the tofu.

If you cut the tofu into thick slices or cubes, the surface area will expand, allowing the marinade’s flavor to penetrate the center of the tofu.

Should I Marinate Tofu Before or After Pressing?

Press the tofu before marinating it. The tofu will absorb more of the marinade if you press it beforehand. In addition to this, the tofu will cook faster if you press it before marinating it. 

Should Cut Tofu Before Marinating?

Whether you should cut tofu before marinating it depends on your preference. If you need to get something on the dinner table ASAP, you can cut it into slices that are 1/2-1-inch thick. It will speed up the marinating time. Nevertheless, you can marinate the whole block of tofu if desired. 

How Long to Marinate Tofu

Some believe the longer the tofu sits in the marinade, the more flavor it will soak up. However, this statement is only true up to a point. The tofu can absorb too much flavor resulting in tofu that tastes disgusting. 

How long to marinate tofu depends on the type of tofu you use. For example, softer types of tofu should be marinated for no longer than 24 hours.

After 24 hours, the marinade will cause proteins in the tofu to disintegrate, resulting in unpleasant, overly soft, and crumbly tofu. 

In contrast, firm tofu can be marinated for 3 days with no issues. However, after 3 days, firm tofu develops a crumbly and soft texture. 

The marinating time of tofu also depends on the type of marinade used. For example, if you use an acid-based marinade made with lemon juice or vinegar, the tofu could start to cook.

Once it starts to cook, it will develop a tough, rubbery texture. Therefore, you should only marinate the tofu in acid-based marinades for 30 minutes to 24 hours. 

How To Marinate Tofu 

With all of this talk about marinating tofu, it’s no surprise that you are craving tofu right now. Make sure you purchase extra firm or hard tofu when shopping for tofu.

Extra firm or hard tofu can be found in the refrigerator aisle of your local grocery store. 

Next, remove the tofu from its packaging and press it. To press the tofu, place it onto a cutting board lined with paper towels. 

Next, place more paper towels on top of the tofu, then add a baking sheet. Place something heavy such as a cast-iron skillet or a few cans of beans, on top of the tofu.

Let the tofu sit for 15-20 minutes before marinating it

Alternatively, you can let the tofu sit for 1 hour or overnight in the fridge. Leave the tofu whole, cut it into 1/2-1-inch slices, or cut it into 1/2-inch cubes depending on your preference. 

Place the tofu into an airtight container or a ziplock bag and set it aside.

Place soy sauce, ginger paste, garlic paste, red pepper flakes, oil, and a dash of apple juice into a container and whisk until combined. 

Pour the marinade over the tofu. The marinade should cover the tofu. Place the lid onto the tofu or seal the ziplock bag. 

Place the tofu into the fridge and let it marinate for 30 minutes to 24 hours. 

Remember, the longer the tofu sits in the marinade, the more flavor it will absorb, but only up to a point.

Once it’s marinated, remove the tofu from the marinade and pat it dry with paper towels before cooking it. You can cook tofu in several ways, including steaming, grilling, deep frying, sauteing, or barbecuing it. 

You can even eat tofu raw. Since it is a plant-based substitute and not raw meat, there’s no need to worry about exposure to bacteria associated with eating raw or undercooked meat. 

Can You Freeze Marinated Tofu?

Yes, you can freeze marinated tofu. Believe it or not, the freezing process will help the tofu absorb the marinade’s flavor better, creating a more delicious dish

However, the tofu’s texture will be a little tougher and slightly chewier. Simply place the marinated tofu into a freezer-safe airtight container or ziplock bag. 

If you are using a ziplock bag, press the air out of the tofu before sealing the bag.

Label the tofu with today’s date and the name of the dish and place it in the freezer. The marinated tofu will last in the freezer for 3 months. 

When you are ready to cook the marinated tofu, thaw it in the fridge overnight before proceeding with the recipe. 

Final Thoughts

The timeline for marinating tofu is pretty flexible. You can marinate it for 30 minutes, 4 hours, or a day.

However, do not marinate soft tofu for more than 24 hours, and do not marinate extra firm or hard tofu for more than 3 days.

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