Do You Have To Cook Tofu Before Eating It?

From mapo tofu to bibimbap and báhn mì, various cuisines have set the tone for tofu and what it can do. There are a handful of hacks you can follow: You can coat tofu in cornstarch for crispiness, freeze tofu to make it seem more like meat, or marinate tofu overnight for a deeper flavor. But none of these address what you and many other tofu newbies wonder every time you reach for a new block: Do you have to cook it first?

While it may not look or feel like it, the tofu you buy from the store comes fully cooked. That's because, whether it's firm, extra firm, silken, or soft, tofu is made from soybeans that have been boiled to make soymilk and then cooked. So, even though you'll always want to take the time to drain and press your tofu (as the extra water can create a mess and doesn't do anything for the flavor), those cold, jiggly tofu blocks can be eaten right out of the container. 

Tofu is already cooked, making it easy to incorporate into recipes

In the U.S., tofu is often mixed into pasta sauces and smoothies to boost the protein content or used to make ice cream or dairy-free yogurt at home due to its texture. But, in Korea, soft tofu is often served drizzled with soy sauce, sesame oil, and green onions in a dish known as Korean soft tofu or added to sundubu-jjigae, a spicy soft tofu soup. Additionally, in Japan, tofu is famously used in miso soup and served chilled in a dish known as hiyayakko or Japanese cold tofu.  It's also often added to vegetarian curries in Thailand, among many other examples.

All in all, you shouldn't limit yourself or your tofu's abilities, especially now that you know it's already cooked and ready for consumption straight from the package. In addition to Asian dishes and recipes, there are other ways to use tofu, such as creating an egg-free frittata or adding it to your favorite salad dressing to make it more creamy.