The tacos themselves aren’t frozen. Frozen tacos not involving chocolate don’t appeal all that much to me. And no, the tofu is no longer frozen when you make it into a taco, but “Thawed Tofu Tacos” sounded like a weird title. And finally, the freezing step in this recipe has nothing to do with convenience or long term storage, though that might be an incidental benefit. The texture of tofu changes when you freeze it. If you fall into the group of people that avoid tofu for not being fond of the texture, this just might be the tofu recipe for you.
Tofu tacos made frequent appearances on my dinner menu when I was in college. Back then I didn’t know about freezing tofu. My recipe was also much simpler: some crumbled tofu cooked in oil and taco mix. If you’re in a pinch that version is actually pretty good. It came to mind when I was thinking back on old recipes from my past that I might want to share for this blog. I decided it was time for a more grown-up version of the recipe. The extra effort involved in the little bit of chopping and mixing up your own seasonings is well worth it. I also realized that frozen tofu would be perfect for this recipe.
So what does happen to tofu when you freeze it? It takes on an extra firm, extra texturized crumbliness. That’s about the best I can describe it. Any excess water that is left in the tofu when you freeze it will squirt right out when you crumble it. Seriously, be careful. I squirted myself in the face. When you cook it up you get a texture that isn’t too far from some of the meatless crumbles you can buy at the store, but it’s a bit lighter. So if meatless crumbles are meant to replicate ground beef, maybe frozen, crumbled tofu is akin to ground chicken? It’s been a long time since I had beef or chicken, so I can’t say for sure. So, how do you go about freezing tofu? Well, thanks for asking.
How to Freeze Tofu
- Press the Tofu. Take some extra firm tofu – as much as you’d like to freeze, and press it. You can do this with a commercial tofu press. If you don’t have a tofu press, that’s okay. Wrap your tofu in a layer of paper towel, then wrap in a dish towel. Place something heavy and flat on top, like a heavy cookbook, or a cutting board weighed down with some cans of food. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes before unwrapping.
- Cut the tofu into serving size pieces. Not totally necessary, but if you ever cook up just one serving of tofu at a time, this will save you having to thaw the whole brick. I usually cut a 1 lb. block of tofu into 4 pieces.
- Place tofu in sealed container or freezer bag and stick it in the freezer.
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 lb. frozen and thawed extra firm tofu
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 tbsp. paprika
- 2 tbsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. ancho chili powder
- ½ tsp. ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. cayenne pepper hot sauce
- ¼ cup tomato sauce
- 4 taco shells or tortillas (check out my favorite way to make taco shells)
- your favorite taco fixings - greens, tomatoes, avocados
- Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sautee until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and sautee another minute.
- Crumble tofu and add to skillet. Cook about 2 minutes, or until it begins to brown. Be careful, as tofu that's been frozen tends to burn quicker.
- Add bell pepper, spices, soy sauce, hot sauce and tomato sauce. Sautee just until everything is blended and hot - about 1-2 minutes, adding a few tablespoons of water if it starts to dry out too much.
- Divide mixture into taco shells and top with fixings.