This might just be the most convenient convenience product on supermarket shelves.
Credit: Arielle Weg

It all started a few weeks ago when I unknowingly picked up the most magical product at the supermarket. I was digging through the tofu shelf in the produce department, and instead of reaching for my usual extra-firm tofu packed in water, I grabbed a tightly packed block of tofu labeled super firm. The tofu wasn’t packed in water like every other kind I had ever seen before, and the packaging read: "Pre-pressed" and "ready to cook."

I shrugged it off and dropped it in my cart to use for dinner.

That night, I sliced open the package to reveal a piece of tofu that was damp, but nowhere near as soggy as extra-firm usually is. The tofu had literally been pre-pressed, taking out the 20 minutes of draining usually required and was ready to hit the pan. So, I cubed the tofu up and tossed it in the pan. This resulted in the most perfectly cooked tofu I have ever made.

But what did taking the water out really do? Tofu is generally packed in a plastic container filled with water to keep it fresh. Many recipes calling for extra-firm tofu require you to drain the block before cooking, and it’s essential to follow that step. This is because a piece of tofu dripping with water will steam in a pan instead of crisp up, yielding a sad, often flavorless, tofu saute. The more dry the tofu is before cooking, the tastier the final dish will be. And this pre-pressed product is the driest tofu on the market.

Sure, there are tons of drying tips and tricks claiming to be the secret to tastier tofu. Typically, you can drain the liquid from the container, wrap the block in paper towels, and place under a heavy press, like a sheet pan, cast iron skillet, or cutting board. Then, you can let the water seep out for at least 20 minutes. Additionally, you can purchase a tofu press like the TofuXpress for easy draining or add a light dust of cornstarch to the tofu before drying to absorb excess liquid.

However, I’m all about skipping a step and going right for the pre-pressed stuff. The Nasoya super-firm pre-pressed tofu is an ingredient of convenient proportions unlike anything I have seen before. It cut down on waste (like all those paper towels) and time. Plus, the tofu showed me I wasn’t pressing water-packed tofu nearly as well as I thought I was. I’ve never managed to get my tofu this thoroughly drained. So, grab your pre-pressed tofu and use it to make everything from Churrasco-Style Tofu Steaks to Tofu Curry with Lemongrass. This block will be your quickest route to restaurant-quality tofu dishes, and quite possibly your new #1 weeknight dinner sidekick. It most definitely became mine.