The Simple Step To Make Your Tofu Seem More Like Meat

Sadly, not all of us live near a vegan butchery. With only a dozen or so locations around the world (via VegNews), most vegans, vegetarians, and flexitarians are left to create their own meat substitutes at home or buy them from the store — but that doesn't mean you can't learn a thing or two from the mocked meat movement. By applying new techniques to old-school plant-based proteins like tofu, you can level up your at-home meat-free substitutes to replicate the flavor and texture of their animal-based counterpart.

There's nothing new about tofu; it's been around for centuries, TofuBud says. After immigrants from China and Japan opened up tofu shops during the early 1900s (via Food & Wine), the ingredient's complete amino acid profile aided in its adoption in Western diets during America's first wave of vegetarianism in the 1970s. From the Han dynasty to today, tofu remains an affordable protein staple in a plant-based diet — only now you can elevate this ancient food into a modern-day mocked meat with one straightforward step.

Freeze it

It's common knowledge that to achieve the best texture and flavor, you need to press your tofu. Tofu is composed of 80% water (via Insider), and by pressing it, you drain out a lot of its moisture. However, another step you can take will draw out even more liquid: freezing it. With just a couple of hours in the freezer, the water turns into ice crystals that expand the proteins in your tofu, creating a totally new structure that doesn't sacrifice its flavor.

To achieve the meatiest texture, Insider recommends pressing and cubing your tofu before putting it inside the freezer. But if you're feeling lazy, you can stick it straight in — it just may take a bit longer to thaw later (via Bon Appétit). It's also important to note that they recommend using a firm or extra-firm tofu for this process. Once drained and cubed, place the tofu pieces on a baking sheet inside the freezer for at least two hours. You can use it immediately or transfer it to a sealed container that you can keep in the freezer for up to a year.

To thaw your frozen tofu, leave it inside the refrigerator. However, if you're in a pinch and need your tofu ready ASAP, you can also use the microwave. From there, your tofu is ready for just about anything: stir-fry, BBQ, or even a banh mi sandwich. But be prepared; its newfound texture will be meatier, chewier, and deliver even more flavor.