If you are looking for a meat substitute for your favorite recipes that incorporate ground beef, tofu is a tasty and inexpensive option. There are three easy tricks to cooking delicious tofu "ground beef": freeze your tofu before cooking, crumble once thawed and add plenty of spice.
If cooking tofu recipes is new to you, don't be intimidated. The soy product is extremely versatile and soaks up flavor like a sponge. You can fry, bake, saute, steam, broil or grill it and flavor to your liking by testing out various spices, herbs and marinades. It's also cheaper than meat and packed with protein. Not only that, tofu is a great source of calcium, iron, manganese, selenium, phosphorous, magnesium, copper, zinc and vitamin B1, according to a November 2018 study published in the journal Medicine.
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Tofu "Ground Beef" Freeze Trick
To cook tofu "ground beef," you will need three main ingredients: firm tofu, oil and spices. You could prepare this dish with either frozen or raw tofu. However, according to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, freezing tofu changes its texture to a more meat-like consistency. The Soyfoods Association of America describes the consistency of tofu that has previously been frozen as "chewy, spongy, and beige-colored." So, if you want your tofu "ground beef" to taste as close to the real thing as possible, freeze your tofu before cooking.
Read more: Is Eating Soy Actually Bad for Your Health?
To freeze tofu, place the whole, unopened container of firm tofu in the freezer. If you are freezing previously opened tofu, the Soyfoods Association of America recommends first draining all of the water from the tofu container, wrapping the tofu in plastic wrap or foil and placing in the freezer. You can keep unopened tofu in the freezer for up to six months and previously opened tofu for up to five months.
Once you're ready to cook your tofu "ground beef," thaw tofu in the refrigerator. Once defrosted, remove the tofu from the package and discard any water left in the container. Remove any additional water by pressing or squeezing the tofu between paper towels.
Read more: Is Tofu Good to Eat for Weight Loss?
Crumbling and Spicing Tofu
Next, it's time to make your tofu mince. You can crumble or shred the thawed tofu into a bowl with your hands, or use a fork, ricer or potato masher to create small crumbled pieces that resemble ground beef in size. At this point, you can choose to go the simple route and just add salt and pepper to your tofu mince before frying in a pan. If you choose to make this simple version, coat a frying pan with the oil of your choice and cook the tofu mince until browned, about five minutes.
If you're spicing your tofu so it resembles taco meat, try this "Tofu Tacos" recipe from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. In this recipe, you build flavor by using vegetable stock, onion and red bell pepper as the base in which the tofu is fried. Apart from this base, the crumbled tofu is also spiced with chili powder, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, cumin, oregano and soy sauce, and fried for three minutes.
Read more: How to Cook Silken Tofu