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Poaching Tofu in Olive Oil

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Has anyone tried doing this? How does it affect taste/texture? I couldn't find any recipes online :/

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post #2 of 17
So how did you hear about it? It's hard to imagine poaching in oil. If the oil gets hot enough to "poach" the tofu surely it will fry it??

The Chinese deep fry tofu, often stuffed with a pork miture. The texture is as you might imagine - crispy on the outside and creamy soft inside.
post #3 of 17
Well, you can poach in oil -- you just have to keep the temperature fairly low, which is not so difficult as you might think. But I'd be very wary about doing this with tofu, because it will tend to act like a sponge and you'll get a lovely pale-yellow cube of fat.

One possibility would be to use a very creamy, soft, water-filled tofu -- more the Japanese than the Chinese style here -- and poach it without any significant draining or pressing.

But I'm not at all sure what sort of result you're looking for. Poaching in oil is an unusual technique, and when I've seen it done there is always a very clear reason for it. For example, if you poach a tough old hen or cock in oil, keeping the oil at around 225-250* F, a lot of the tough cartilage turns very soft, the chicken doesn't lose significant juice, and you get lots of flavor and a very eat-able bird. But the point here is that if you fried or baked or roasted such a bird, it would be tough and stringy, so you're using oil-poaching to produce a specific result.

So... why do you want to do this?
post #4 of 17
because you ask why...
post #5 of 17
Sure you can poach in oil. Right now big thing is Lobster poached in Butter a la T.Keller.:D
There is frying and then deep frying all done by temps and control.
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post #6 of 17
Right now i'm trying to imagine what tofu poached in olive oil would taste like.

And it's making me feel a little ill...
post #7 of 17
Sure, that's why I asked why the OP wants to do this. As far as I understand it, gentle poaching in fat (butter, oil, whatever) will in effect replace the water in the poached object with the fat. If you poach lobster in butter, it becomes insanely creamy and buttery, and retains its natural texture. If you poach an old hen in oil, the hard cartilage breaks down and the flesh gets tenderized -- not health food, to be sure, but much tastier than a stringy old hen.

But tofu is basically a sponge filled with water. If you gently poach it in oil, it will be a sponge filled with oil. The flavor of tofu is extremely mild and tends to degrade somewhat the longer you cook it; when it gets cooked a long time in China, for example, it's usually served with the cooking liquid as a soup. So I'm afraid that poaching tofu in olive oil long enough to achieve much of anything is going to produce a cube of olive-oil flavored squodge. I suppose you might then spread it on toast or something, but what's the point?

Thus my question. Why do you want to do this? What result are you trying to achieve? I could very well be missing the point, or mis-predicting what will happen. Can you describe the intended result? Then we can help try to figure out how to achieve it.
post #8 of 17
Chris! I dont know why he would poach it either,but to each his own.
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post #9 of 17
maybe its a japenese thing...Confit of tofu...ish in soya bean oil?? Worth googling
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
I didn't really have an particular idea in mind, I was just wondering about the different ways of preparing tofu. Does anyone know what simmering tofu in water or broth would do to it's texture? Would it make it firmer?
post #11 of 17
If you're just looking for different ways, my recommendation is to press it then freeze it.
Thaw and press again, then marinate.
You're going to end up with a flavorful piece of tofu that has some bite to it, something you can sink your teeth into.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #12 of 17
I have to agree.
I love tofu-cook and eat a lot of it. One thing I don't do it pretend it is some kind of meat. This is the problem that, I believe, many chefs have when trying to do something new with it. Kind of akin to saying, "well, if it works with a bland or tough piece of meat, it should work for tofu." Wrong!

Like other posters have said before, the slow poach in oil work wonders on animal based proteins, but plant based proteins work differently.

One of the best things I've seen done with tofu is to cut up firm tofu, marinate and then roast it in a 400 degree oven until the edges get all browned and crispy. Intensifies the flavor with kind of a caramelized crust, but it's hot and creamy on the inside.
post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 
After trying this, I agree. Pretty nasty.
post #14 of 17
Not exactly, no. If you do it long enough to make any noticeable difference, it starts to sort of honeycomb. Try it with the very firm Chinese-style tofu. Poach a whole big block gently for an hour in light, mildly salted broth. Remove, drain on angled plate for a minute or so (don't press!), and then cut into cubes and serve in the same broth or in a light soup.

If you want to fool around, buy the silkiest Japanese tofu you can find. Press it gently in the usual way to extract some of the water. Then freeze it solid, but make sure you can get it loose while it's frozen -- so wrap it in plastic wrap or something. Put the frozen block in a bowl or jar or something just a little bigger than the block, cover the jar opening with a piece of cheesecloth or paper towel held on with a rubber band, and then leave it in the freezer for, oh, two or three MONTHS. The tofu has to breathe, which is what the cheesecloth is for. Eventually all the liquid will evaporate and the tofu will be shrunken and hard. Reconstitute it in broth, cut in cubes, and eat it. Now THAT is a major texture difference! (Of course, if your freezer has weird smells, the tofu will have them too....)

Do you know about turning silken tofu into sauce? Roast some sesame seeds -- about 1/4-1/2 by volume compared to the quantity of tofu -- and chuck them in a blender to grind fine. Add the tofu when the seeds are ground, and puree the bejeepers out of it. Add a small splash of soy, a dab of rice vinegar, salt, and a small pinch of sugar, and puree some more. Scrape it around and puree again. Turn on the motor and add water until the texture is like a thin mayonnaise. Now poach some veggies until just tender, shock in ice water, drain and chill, and then toss them with the tofu-sesame sauce.

I live in Kyoto, which is tofu central. There's an old Tokyo joke, that in Kyoto the tofu costs more than the fish. It's only occasionally true. :lol:
post #15 of 17
The only way to learn, is to do . Why dont you try some of these things and document the results.:lips:

I experimented and made (years ago when it was in its hay-day) different salad dressings all made from Tofu.:D
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post #16 of 17
Couldn't imagine wanting to try "comfit" of tofu.

Best uses, to my taste, are marinating then hot grill/ pan fry/roast, or poaching in broth for a hot and sour soup.
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
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post #17 of 17
If you say this, probably you haven't had really, really good tofu that is super, super-fresh, like made this morning fresh.

The best way to eat the best tofu is simplicity itself: cold, with a dab of soy sauce on top, garnished with a teeny amount of grated ginger, minced scallion, and/or dried bonito flakes. The other best way, more suitable for winter, is to warm it in kelp stock (kombu-dashi) and serve it plain with excellent soy sauce, often with a tiny drop of good sake in it, for dipping. These dishes are (respectively) hiya-yakko and yudofu. I normally prefer Chinese tofu and Chinese preparations thereof, but if the tofu is fantastically fresh and good these Japanese dishes are infinitely superior.

(By the way, this is the kind of tofu that costs about $5-$10 a block in Kyoto, leading to the old joke I mentioned before....)
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