Depend on the personal preference and recipe requirement, there is a range of tofu consistency to choose. From soft to medium and firm, the texture is important factor to bring the dish to life.
Tofu is made by coalescing soy milk until it forms a curd, which is pressed to form solid blocks of tofu in varying texture. Depending on how long the curd is press, the resulting texture can be silken, soft or firm.
What is the difference between silken tofu, soft tofu, and firm tofu? The three mentioned terminologies refer to broad categories of tofu texture. Once the curd is formed from coagulated soy milk, it is solidified by pressing it to remove liquid and produce the varying textures.
The firmness of tofu will depend on how long it’s pressed. The lengthier the curd is pressed, the more it releases water and the firmer it gets.
Silken tofu is achieved in about 15 to 20 minutes. Firm tofu is formed when the curd has been pressing for a long time because the curd releases more whey making the final product denser.
This article investigates the major differences between silken, soft, and firm tofu. Answered below are frequently asked questions about tofu firmness and how to use or substitute accordingly.
Is silken tofu the same as soft tofu?
No, silken tofu is not the same as soft tofu. In fact, both are different textures of tofu. Both may have smooth and soft textures, but they are not the same.
For silken tofu, once the soy milk is coagulated, it does not go through the pressing process; hence, it retains its moisture content after cooling.
For soft tofu, the soy milk is curdled, and the curd formed is pressed but not for a long time. The results are a high-water content, but not as much as silky tofu.
Nevertheless, these two tofu textures have similarities by having smooth and soft textures. But soft tofu is slightly denser than silken, making the two suitable for soft and savory desserts.
Silken and soft tofu textures have high water content, making them dangerous for frying and stuffing because it may causes an explosion.
Can l substitute firm tofu for silken tofu?
No, you should not substitute firm tofu for silken tofu. Even though both are made from the same ingredients, the way they are processed is very different, so they are not interchangeable.
Both come with varying firmness and the texture is vastly different, therefore you should not substitute one for the other in a recipe.
Firm tofu is pressed for longer to extract as much whey as possible, making a much denser result. It is ideal for dishes that require tofu to maintain its shapes, such as soup and stew.
In contrast, silken tofu is only good for soft and delicate dishes because it falls apart easily due to its high-water content.
What is the difference between silky, soft, and firm tofu?
The main difference comes about in their textural firmness and appearance. Generally, the more water, the softer or silkier the tofu, and the tofu is firmer with less water.
Silken tofu has a delicate outward form compared to the other two, making it fall apart easily. For this reason, silken tofu version is stored in aseptic boxes and doesn’t have to be refrigerated.
When processing it, the soy milk is coagulated and not pressed, making the tofu preserve its water content.
Soft and firm tofu are regular, which means they are both curdled and pressed.
The curd is pressed for a short time in soft tofu, which makes it retain high moisture content, thus having a smooth and soft texture.
In firm tofu, the curd is pressed for a long time, which makes it drain all the water and have a rubber surface to maintain a dense shape.
Is silken or firm tofu better?
Firm tofu is better than silken tofu because it’s pressed for long, has less whey and is more nutritionally dense, making it suitable for frying and stuffing.
Unlike firm tofu, frying silken tofu can lead to explosion since it has a delicate surface and the high moisture content makes it delicate to handle and prone to oil sparks that can catch a grease fire.
On the other side, firm tofu has a steady texture that holds up during cooking and retains its shape when placed in soups and sauces. As a result, it is much easier to handle during cooking.
Silken, Soft and Firm Tofu: Conclusion
The hardness of tofu texture depends on how lengthy the curd pressing takes which results in more or less water content. The longer the pressing is done, the more water drains, and the harder the tofu gets.
Silken tofu is made by coagulated soy milk without pressing the whey, which makes the final product holds all its moisture during the cooling. The tofu has a silky and lyrical look, making it much more delicate than the other two textures, so it requires delicate handling precautions.
Soft tofu, the curd is pressed but not for a long time, so it retains much of the residual whey. This type of tofu still has a smooth texture that requires mid-handling since it is delicate.
The high-water content of soft tofu makes it unsuitable for frying because it may cause an explosion. It works well with soft desserts and is equally great in savory dishes.
Firm tofu is formed after the curd has been pressed for a long time. Its texture is dense, tight and strong, though it actually has three categories including firm, extra firm, and super firm.
Its firm body provides a rubbery texture when cooking, so one can handle each piece without the fear of breaking it. Also, its texture can hold up well while frying and stuffing.
There are several reasons to consider substituting silken tofu with firm tofu, being delicate to handle and fry. However, firm tofu can never be an option for a substitute because the textures are not interchangeable and are used for entirely different dishes.
When it comes to selecting the right kind of tofu, firm tofu is lot better than silken since it is easier to handle and remains its shape in soups and sauces. However, the type of tofu is ultimately determined by what firmness the dish calls for.