With its porous, firm yet tender texture and its mild, unimposing taste, dried tofu has an amazing ability to absorb the flavors of the foods and seasonings it is cooked with. Unlike fresh tofu, which tends to break apart when sautéed, dried tofu holds its shape even after prolonged cooking. These qualities make it well suited to any style of cooking. Appropriately seasoned, it can be used in place of meat or poultry in many ethnic entrées. Lightweight and easy to store and prepare, it is also the ideal camp food.
Before freeze-dried tofu can be used, it must first be reconstituted. Briefly soaking this food in plain water, then squeezing out most of the moisture is all that is needed. Once reconstituted, there are three basic ways of cooking with freeze-dried tofu. Familiarize yourself with these versatile techniques. First, snow-dried tofu can be diced and added directly to well-seasoned broths, sauces, or other flavorful dishes. The second method is to marinate the diced tofu for thirty minutes. A marinade of natural soy sauce, mirin, and ginger is perfect when making Oriental entrées. Soy sauce, white wine, and herbs associated with Western cuisines, such as poultry seasoning or rosemary and bay leaf, impart a flavor suited to Western dishes. The third - and most versatile - method is to simmer the tofu in a well-seasoned broth. It may then be served as is; pan-fried in toasted sesame oil; or diced and added to stews, sautées, grains, sauces, and salads. Simmered freeze-dried tofu is especially good when it is deep-fried after being dipped in tempura batter, or after being dipped in egg batter and rolled in bread crumbs.
Coarsely grating dried tofu before reconstituting yields another range of possibilities. Try adding some to stuffings, casseroles, and vegetable or grain-based burgers or croquettes. Dried tofu stores well for several months, but it gradually turns yellow-brown with age, so buy only light beige-colored dried tofu, and store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. To reconstitute, soak dried tofu in warm water for five minutes, then press firmly between your hands. Repeatedly dampen and press until the liquid that comes out is no longer milky.