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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, May 27, 2024

Confessions of a Cooking Fanatic: Freezing your toes (and your tofu) in Iceland

On a spring break trip to Iceland, our cooking columnist explores a new technique for preparing tofu.

Confessions of a Cooking Fanatic

Graphic by Rachel Wong

The stereotypical college spring break involves jet setting to the sunniest of beaches in countries with a lower drinking age. And yet, my spring break group was not yet sick of the cold. We traveled to Iceland last week and found ourselves in a remote fishing village in the Westfjords during their worst snowstorm this season.

What does this mean logistically? Rescheduling flights, extending car rentals and getting a free night from our gracious Airbnb host.

Fortunately, we were able to pick up groceries the day before the snow set in, but we otherwise holed up in Suðureyri, digging out the cars and path to the sauna every six hours. We played card games, learned to Rubik’s Cube and danced in the snow. We planned several vegan dinners, and I reignited my love affair with the tofu scramble.

Now, I had already decided to write a column about tofu technique several weeks ago. Following Rainbow Plant Life’s guidance, I froze, dethawed and marinated a block of extra firm tofu. This was a revolutionary step in my understanding of tofu. As a result of freezing, you are able to squeeze more water out of the tofu and are left with a spongy, springy tofu that soaks up any marinade.

I initially tested this with Yewande Komolafe’s Sheet-Pan Gochujang Chicken and Roasted Vegetables by swapping out the chicken for tofu and doubling the sauce. The tofu was so good, but the roasted butternut squash (with some slightly caramelized corners!) was somehow a distraction.

Then, Eric Kim wrote his New York Times Food column about freezing tofu and shared a Crispy Tofu recipe which calls for freezing sliced tofu. While I don’t think my freezer can be Tetris-ed to allow for a sheet pan (I fear I have too much frozen sourdough from When Pigs Fly’s $3 sourdough Wednesday deal), I plan to keep incorporating the freeze-then-thaw technique to my tofu in block form.

And if these weren’t signs enough, I found yet another reference to frozen tofu in the third book in Liu Cixin’s “Remembrance of Earth’s Past” series, “Death’s End.” A group of scientists discuss cellular damage in the thawing process after cryopreservation. Great for tofu, less so for humans.

While most of my columns are grounded in recipes, this one is about tofu technique. I would argue that most baked tofu recipes can flawlessly integrate the thawed tofu. Melissa Clark’s Crispy Baked Tofu With Sugar Snap Peas looks especially promising and bursting with spring flavors. I’ll be replacing the first step with squeezing the water out of thawed tofu and opting for nutritional yeast instead of parmesan.

And if you are still reeling from your spring break expenses or just looking to make the most of the upcoming spring produce, let this be a reminder that Tufts students have free access to New York Times Cooking with their Tufts email.