The Air-Fryer Trick To Make Marinated Tofu More Flavorful

Outside of the vegan and vegetarian community, tofu can be misunderstood — but that's mostly because people don't know the right way to prepare it. Colorless and cubed on its own, there are plenty of tips and tricks for transforming tofu into something that defies all expectations: You can fry your tofu to get it nice and crispy, freeze it to make it seem more like meat, or leave it in a marinade for a boost of flavor. However, considering tofu is made of 80% water, all of these hacks would mean nothing should you forget to drain it.

Without pressing your tofu, it'd remain a watery, white block with a texture to match. But, because of its water content and porosity of it, the tofu would also have trouble holding onto any of the tasty seasonings you add. This is especially troublesome if you're planning to marinate your tofu, as it can take days for the tofu to absorb it. 

Now, you could try pressing the tofu, but that could take longer than you prefer. Instead, Lifehacker shares a trick to making your tofu hold its marinated flavor that takes a reasonable amount of time – and it involves your air fryer

Par-cooking tofu in the air fryer dries out moisture and makes it easy to absorb flavor

While microwaving may be the quickest way to drain moisture from tofu, using your air-fryer can do just the same but along with other benefits — the main one being that you can play around with par-cooking your tofu to achieve different textures. Par-cooking means exactly what its name says: partially cooking your food. 

How you do that with your tofu comes down to preference. Depending on the texture you like, you could slice your firm tofu up and cook it in your air fryer for a few minutes on both sides for a crispy exterior, or you can take an entire block of soft tofu and cook it whole until it's dry. 

In the end, your tofu should be left with a firmer texture since any extra water will be dried up through the par-cooking process. It can be compared to the delicious Indian cheese known as paneer: dry and ready to absorb all of the seasonings in your marinade. In fact, with a bit of salt and lemon juice, that tofu will absorb into a perfect dairy-free paneer substitute — but the possibilities don't end there. 

Whether you go the BBQ, the teriyaki, the Thai peanut, or the Moroccan chermoula route, that tofu block is your canvas. After par-cooking, it's more than ready to take on any and all of the flavors that your heart desires — sans the extra moisture.