Why You Shouldn't Deep Fry Tofu

What do mapo tofu, miso soup, and Chipotle's sofritas all have in common? They all consist of snowy white cubes of condensed soy milk, aka tofu, per Healthline.

According to Britannica, tofu is a staple of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cuisines, and this is likely due to its plethora of health benefits. Medical News Today cites that type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, and prostate cancer can be better managed with regular tofu consumption. And if that's not enough, tofu is also rich in protein, calcium, manganese, and other important vitamins and minerals.

Tofu is practically non-existent in the flavor department and instead soaks up flavorful marinades and seasonings. Better Homes & Gardens mentions that silken tofu, which is super soft, elevates soups, smoothies, and desserts. Regular tofu includes medium, firm, and extra-firm varieties, and can be grilled, baked, or pan-fried, as noted by Food With Feeling.

The versatility of tofu comes to a hard stop when it comes to deep-frying, though. Here's why that's the case.

Tofu is like a sponge

We've already established that tofu soaks up marinades and seasonings, and since that's the case, this must apply to oil as well. Kitchn explains that since tofu is like a sponge, it will absorb and hold in the oil used for deep frying, which results in a "greasy, spongy mess."

Granted, if you want crispy tofu, there are other alternatives to consider. As previously mentioned, baking and pan-frying are common cooking methods for regular tofu, but so are stir-frying and air-frying. Love & Lemons notes that only a ¬Ĺ tablespoon of oil is needed for air-frying tofu, which also benefits from a dusting of corn starch for extra crispiness.

It's also important to press the water out of tofu because moisture prevents it from crisping up. BBC Good Food states that this method involves adding a weight atop the block of tofu so all that moisture inside can seep out. The tofu should also be wrapped in a tea towel and placed on a plate to catch the excess water.

Deep-frying might be a no-go when it comes to cooking tofu, but you can still achieve crispy and tender tofu meat with plenty of other cooking methods.