How to Press Tofu: Simple Steps to Remove Moisture

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When you cook a tofu recipe, do you drain the water by pressing it? It’s an extra step, but an important one in order to make delicious tofu. Let me share with you How To Press Tofu properly and also explain why you should do it.

Tofu with cutting board.

Tofu contains a lot of water! If you love tofu, then you may know some recipes require pressing it to remove the excess moisture. But do you know how to do it? I will show you how I press tofu and also answer some common questions.

    This recipe is for you if:
  • You want to know how to drain excess water from tofu
  • You want to know how to press tofu
  • You want to know how long it takes to press tofu
  • You wonder why it’s necessary to press tofu

By The Way, Do You “Always” Have To Press Tofu?

Not always. It depends on the recipe you are going to cook. For example, when I cook soup, I don’t press the tofu. When I cook Teriyaki tofu, I do.

Pressing your tofu for one hour or overnight will result in a firmer tofu. If you do it for 10 minutes, your tofu will have a soft, fluffy texture. 

Pressing tofu is an important process to control the taste and texture of tofu. If your recipe calls for it, it is highly recommended to take the extra time to perform this step for the best result.

Why You Should Press Tofu

tofu

#1 To prevent the tofu from becoming watery

About 90% of tofu is water, and the water tends to flow out by heating or time passing. So if you don’t press water out of the tofu beforehand, your finished dish will become mushy and watery.

#2 To maintain its shape

Since tofu is pretty soft and it’s easy for it to lose its shape. If you make tofu hambagu, you don’t need to be concerned since you mix the tofu with other ingredients. However, when preparing tofu salad, pressing the tofu to produce a firmer texture is recommended to help it maintain its shape.

#3 To help soak in the flavor

Tofu has a plain and simple taste because of its water content.

But, draining out the water creates more space for the tofu to absorb and hold in the flavors of marinades, seasonings, etc. This will result in a more flavorful and delicious tofu.

How Long Does It Take?

You should press it for at least 30 minutes. 

If you are not in a hurry, you can do it overnight. In that case, you have to keep it in the fridge.

How to Press Tofu

This is how I press tofu. I use items I already have in my kitchen. (In Japan, we don’t use a tofu press).

how to press tofu

Tools to Use

  • Paper towel (kitchen paper)
  • A large plate to hold the tofu
  • A cutting board or other item with a flat surface
  • Heavy vegetables or heavy cans such as canned food
  • A casserole dish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Wrap with paper towels: Wrap the tofu up with paper towels, and place it on a plate.
  2. Place a cutting board: Place a cutting board on top of the tofu.
  3. Place heavy objects: Put them in a casserole dish and place them on the top. (I use a casserole dish to keep the balance, but you can skip it and directly place heavy objects on the cutting board.)
  4. Wait: Leave it for 30-60 minutes.

By using a cutting board, the weight remains stable, and the tofu can be pressed evenly without tilting.

You can use various items such as canned food, heavy books, a frying pan, vegetables (onions, potatoes, etc.), bottles, or a bowl of water. Just about any heavy object is ok.

tofu after pressing

The picture above is after pressing for 30 minutes. You can see how much water has come out.

Discard the excess liquid, and go ahead and start cooking it.

Before and After

tofu, before and after pressing

The left is before, and on the right is the pressed tofu.

Tofu Recipes

Japanese teriyaki tofu and mushrooms

After pressing, why don’t you try these yummy recipes??

Another Way to Drain The Water Out

These are quick and easy methods. If you don’t need a firm texture, try one of the following methods.

Wrap up with paper towels

tofu wrapped up with paper towels

Wrap it up with paper towels and leave it for 10 minutes. 

If you enjoy eating tofu raw, like hiyayakko (chilled tofu), it’s ok to just drain it lightly this way.

Microwave

Wrap it up with paper towels and microwave it for 3 minutes. 

If you are in a hurry, this is the quickest and easiest way.

It won’t create a firm texture like pressing will, but it’s good enough to cook dishes like mapo tofu and stir fry.

Also, since the tofu has been heated, it’s more suitable for some recipes that require cooking tofu (not for salad).

Thanks For Stopping By!

Now that you understand the importance of pressing tofu in certain recipes, you also know how easy it is to do!

You can also experiment with the amount of time for pressing time to create your best texture!

To all the tofu lovers out there, get ready for a game-changer with your next tofu dishes! I hope you enjoy new tofu creations!

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. If you’ve tried this recipe (or any other recipe on the blog), please give it a star rating below!

Also, feel free to leave comments if you have any questions. I love hearing from you!

Chef JA Cooks is a Japanese food blog that shares simple and healthy Japanese home cooking recipes, including vegan and vegetarian. From traditional Japanese recipes to modern recipes with step-by-step instructions.

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how to press tofu

How to Press Tofu: Simple Steps to Remove Moisture

5 from 2 votes
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Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 0 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 300 g
Author: JURI
When you cook a tofu recipe, do you drain the water by pressing it? It's an extra step, but an important one in order to make delicious tofu. Let me share with you how to press tofu properly and also explain why you should do it.

Ingredients

  • 1 block of Tofu, 300g

Instructions

  • Wrap with paper towels: Wrap tofu up with paper towels, and place it on a plate.
  • Place a cutting board: Place a cutting board on top of the tofu.
  • Place heavy objects: Put them in a casserole dish and place them on the top.
  • Leave: Leave it for 30 to 60 minutes.

Video

Notes

  • You can use a flat plate instead of a cutting board.
  • I use a casserole dish to keep the balance, but you can skip it and directly place heavy objects on the cutting board.
  • You can use various items such as canned food, heavy books, a frying pan, vegetables (onions, potatoes, etc.), bottles, or a bowl of water. Just about any heavy object is ok.

Nutrition

Serving: 299g | Calories: 252kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 13g
Course: How to
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: how to press tofu
Did You Make this recipe?Please Leave a star rating!

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