Unitaskers – those kitchen gadgets or devices that do a single function – get a lot of shit. To be honest, I don’t understand the hatred. They fit in with my general kitchen philosophy: I’ll get top when I use just the right utensil or bowl, even a teaspoon-sized step, and even when I have a sink full of dishes. That’s why I love my 1.5-cup measuring cup, my lemon squeezer and my three sieve sizes.
It’s true that not all single-use devices are really worth the space they take up or the plastic they’re made of (or the moral calculation we make before Jeff Bezos delivers them on our way). And I’m not necessarily in favor of strawberry peels or banana slicers. But there is an argument in favor of the tofu press.
For the uninitiated, the device is pretty straightforward. The one I made by a company called Tofu Bud consists of a plastic box that fits snugly inside a standard tofu block, two perforated planks that sit in it, and a large metal spring that is attached to a button. The tofu moves between the two planks, and the button-spring connector is inserted through a hole in the lid of the box, which puts pressure on the tofu (there are two levels where you can screw the button – the less strained one Option is for less firm tofu). Inside, the tofu is slightly compressed. After 15 or 20 minutes of compression – that’s the exciting part – drain the excess water from a spout at the top of the box.
Pressing tofu is an important step in cooking tofu. Pressed tofu absorbs marinades and becomes crispy. In its denser, dehydrated form, it holds up better even when cooked than crumbling into sad, damp pieces.
I don’t know if I ever drained my tofu properly before I had a tofu press. I usually put one per towel or tea towel around the tofu block and placed it under a plate that was weighted down with a 28-ounce can of shredded tomatoes. Then I squeezed the tofu a little more with my hands and usually needed another set of towels. I would be left with a damp pile of towels or a damp tea towel, a depressing sight for someone without a washer-dryer in the unit. These methods felt almost, but not quite, right, ad hoc solutions to an ingredient that deserved better.
The tofu bud is a great option, but it seems like the tofu press industry is booming. Take the handcrafted hardwood or 3D printed versions that etsy and the flood many plastic iterations on amazon. It would be relatively easy Shop class project, also. All of them deliver the satisfaction of a well-calibrated squeeze and superior tofu.