Classic Tofu Scramble Recipe

by Gena on August 8, 2010

Glad you’re all enjoying the staycation recap! Even Mom deigned to read the post and tell me she enjoyed it. (I’m just kidding, Mom. I know you read my blog. Sometimes.)

Hard to believe that two days “off” (quotation marks indicate silly amounts of work completed whilst staycationing) have already flown by. Work aside, they were sleepy days, punctuated by very little but food and books and movies. Which is sort of how Mom and I like things. Some of our meals (like Thursday night’s dinner, which I’ll post the recipe to later this week) were epic, and others were as simple as this:

Those are HLTs: Hummus, lettuce and tomato on French Meadow wheat+flax bread (Mom likes this better than ‘zeke — I do not concur!).

For Friday morning brunch, I’d had it in mind to make my Mom one of the most quintessential vegan dishes out there: scrambled tofu (that link is to the PPK’s now classic recipe). Even if you’ve only dabbled in veganism or vegetarianism, there is a very good chance that you’ve stumbled on a scrambled ‘fu recipe, and maybe even tried it for yourself. If you’ve been vegetarian for a long time–for instance, like my friend Caroline–then there’s an equally good chance that you’ve become a zen master in scrambled tofu making.

A zen master I am not; I do eat soy (always organic and non-GMO), but I don’t eat tons of it, and when I do it’s typically in the form of tempeh. However, I do like a good tofu scramble or tofu ricotta dish every now and then, and I was especially excited to share tofu scramble with my Mom, who eats scrambled egg whites on a whole wheat (whole grains! go Mom!) English muffin almost every single day for lunch/brunch. That my mother has a horror of tofu — a fear that borders on legit food xenophobia — was all the more reason to show her that tofu can be mighty tasty if you do the right stuff with it.

Tofu is never tasty, however, if you don’t press it. If you speak to someone who’s had a traumatic tofu experience, there’s about a 99% chance that he or she tore a block of firm tofu from the package, cut it up, dumped it onto a salad, and then wondered why it tasted like crap. The answer is 1) tofu is pretty dang boring if you don’t do something to flavor it, and 2) tofu is nasty unless you press some of the moisture out of it, which is why the Tofu Xpress was invented, my friends. That said, you do not need a tofu press to get the moisture out efficiently. All you need are two plates and a heavy book. Observe.

You layer the tofu between two plates, and then you make your poor mother extremely uncomfortable by placing one of her heavy and expensive art books on top of the top plate, to press the tofu down:

Leave it in the fridge while you’re at work or overnight, and by the time you return to it the tofu should be thinner and denser than it was before.

Now you’re ready to slice it and sear it, to bake it with a marinade, to put it in a tasty stir fry dish, or to make your tofu scramble.

There are about 103,485 tofu scramble recipes floating around the internet, and I’m guessing that most of them are good. I also highly recommend the original recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance and Lindsay’s low fat rendition. The recipe that follows is my own hybrid of the many recipes I tried as I was transitioning into veganism, and it’s the one I like best.

Tofu Scramble (serves 2)

1/2 block extra firm tofu, pressed for at least 4 hours
1/2 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium carrot, halved and chopped
1-2 tsps Bragg’s or nama shoyu
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp curry powder
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 cup spinach, chopped

1) Spray a cooking pan with coconut or olive oil cooking spray, and cook the carrots and peppers over medium-high heat until they’re soft.


2) Crumble the tofu into the pan with your fingers (this part is fun!) and stir fry it until it’s warmed through.


3) Add the Bragg’s or nama shoyu, the turmeric, the curry, and the nooch. Stir the mixture until the tofu is uniformly seasoned and colored.

4) This is important–add spinach last! In my first attempts at tofu scramble I always, always added spinach first, and the result was that it was wilted down to nothing by the time I was done adding and seasoning the tofu. Gross. My new trick is to add spinach last, cover the pan for a few moments to let it wilt down:


And then give it one quick stir so that it’s just barely cooked. Perfect!

In the end, your scramble will look just like this:

And if you serve it up with some toast, your egg white loving Mom might actually try tofu for the first time, nod thoughtfully, and say, “not bad.”

She might even nibble at the dish trepidatiously for a few minutes before gobbling the whole thing down. And she might just tell you that if she had the dish around at lunchtime every day, she’d choose it over eggs.

Mission accomplished. Next mission: make Mom warm up to nori. I’ll let you all contemplate that one and offer some suggestions, because so far sushi rolls haven’t done the trick. Hmmm.

Before staycation was over, I had a wonderful opportunity to meet a new member of the fam:

This is Chloe.

You guys know that I am very much an only child, but what you might not know is that I have seven honorary stepsiblings. These are the children of my parents’ significant others, and I care about them all immensely. (I also have a gaggle of real ex-stepsiblings, but that’s a story for another time.) Jennifer is my Mom’s boyfriend’s daughter, and she recently had a very adorable baby, whom I met on Friday for the first time. I love staycation.

When I got back to my apartment on Saturday, I was a little cooked-out. Seriously, I think I love raw foods in part because they’re so much easier than cooked (at least, the raw foods that I like are). A simple plate of raw grub was in order: green salad with my curried cashew dip (this is seriously one of my favorites, and I added red peppers this time, which was a great idea), balsamic vinaigrette, and some Brad’s chips.

Tasty, but the company was lacking: Mom, I miss you.

On the agenda for today is work catch-up and a matinee. Tell me, how were your weekends? And have any of you got tofu scramble recipes you’re dying to tell me about?

xo

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{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather (Heather's Dish) August 8, 2010 at 9:49 am

my weekend was great…i got to spend a ton of date time with my hubby and some great girlfriends! what more could i ask for, right? :)

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Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg August 8, 2010 at 9:53 am

Awww, cute baby! I’m such a sucker for babies :-)

I’m also a sucker for a good tofu scramble. Yum! I remember the first time I tried this, I was so amazed by how mcuh it really tasted like eggs!

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Chocolate Covered Katie August 8, 2010 at 9:59 am

Aww Gena, Chloe is precious :).
For a second I thought she was yours!

I was like, “Wait a sec, did I MISS something?!?!”

hehehe :)

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jenny (green food diaries) August 8, 2010 at 10:15 am

chloe is adorable. loved reading about your staycation. i’ve never had tofu scramble but i hate dense tofu. i like tofu super soft cooked in spicy stews, the kind that melts even without any chewing in your mouth. or uncooked, straight out of the package and dipped in soy sauce + sesame oil + chili flakes + green onion. mmmmmmmmm

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Danielle (Runs on Green) August 8, 2010 at 10:29 am

I loved reading about your staycation! I think I’d almost prefer a staycation to a vacation (I guess I’m a homebody…)

I’ve tried a few tofu scramble recipes but my favorite one, by far, is the one from Vegan with a Vengeance! It’s all about the spice blend :)

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Sandi August 8, 2010 at 10:47 am

In the West, tofu is usually pressed, scrambled, baked, fried and marinated until it no longer resembles its original form…which isn’t a bad thing! But in Japan, a Japanese-style meal is often served with a block of uncooked soft tofu, which you pour a little soy sauce on and eat as is. (http://z.abang.com/f/jpcooking/1/1/H/2/-/-/lengdoufu.jpg <- in this picture it's kind of fancy with nori and grated ginger or something on it, but often it just has some scallions and soy sauce poured on.)
There's also a dish called yudofu (literally, "tofu boiled in water") which is just that–cubes of tofu boiled in water which you take out with your chopsticks and dip in a sauce before eating.
I just thought I'd share some delicious ways of preparing tofu in its natural state. Tofu scrambles are delicious, but I love plain, raw tofu as well, so I want to break the misconception that tofu isn't tasty as is!

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Gena August 8, 2010 at 11:38 am

Sandi,

You are 100% right! Most of my reservations about soy consumption have little to do with the properties of soy itself, and everything to do with how overly processed most soy foods we eat here in the US are. (This is also why I usually choose tempeh over tofu.) Great comment, and thanks for sharing.

G

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Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine August 8, 2010 at 10:52 am

I love tofu scrambles!! I got a mix of spices at a health food store awhile back that makes them absolutely delicious. My parents would probably be wary of trying a tofu scramble too, but I should make yours for them, just to prove them wrong! Glad you had such a nice time with your mama!

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Faith @ lovelyascharged August 8, 2010 at 11:08 am

Tofu scrambles are FAB! I love stuffing them inside of pitas for a quick morning breakfast. Olives + tomatoes are always a winning combo for a tofu scramble.

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Jennifer August 8, 2010 at 11:31 am

I prefer to NOT press my tofu and then just cook it slowly (takes about 15 minutes) to evaporate the moisture. I also believe in the KISS method of making tofu scramble: garlic, nooch, salt, and pepper are my only seasonings and it’s the best tofu scramble I’ve had! I’ve tried a bunch of recipes, and it’s by far my favorite.

Also, Chloe is adorable. WOW she’s cute. Lucky you, honorary step-aunt Gena! Though I’m one talk, being the Auntie of FOUR adorable little nieces and nephews!

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Olivia (Green Junkie Living) August 8, 2010 at 11:48 am

Apparently it took a tofu scramble post to get me to de-lurk. I’ve always been afraid of the tofu scramble, despite my general love of the occasional tofu dish. I guess I never really understand quite how to do it. This gave me the push I needed to try to conquer my scramble fear. Not today, mind you, but soon. Thanks Gena! (And wow that’s a super-cute little one you get to snuggle there!)

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Gena August 8, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Thanks for delurking Olivia! Scrambled tofu is a pretty simple dish, I swear, so give it a shot.

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Ameena August 8, 2010 at 12:00 pm

I think it is so sweet that you spend your staycation with your mom…and I also think that Chloe is one of the cutest babies I have ever seen. :)

I went to a wedding last night and I am going to try to recover from it today…

Great way to use tofu…I love this recipe!

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Gena August 8, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Oy! Good luck recovering, miss. Coconut water + carbs will = relief.

And yes, she is pretty adorable. More proof that all people with the name “Chloe” are special.

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dawn August 8, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Love your blog :) Must say, i’m with your mom on nori but wishing i liked it, so looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

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Christine (The Raw Project) August 8, 2010 at 12:29 pm

What a wonderful staycation and Chloe is adorable. I’ve never tried a tofu scramble, but this looks wonderful.

So far this weekend we had a mini family gathering at mi sister’s last night while I did computer work for her. :-)

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maggie(livingfoodjunkie) August 8, 2010 at 12:33 pm

I must admit I have not dabbled in the tofu world much, yet I do enjoy it (flavored of course, otherwise your right its nasty). I had no idea you were supposed to press it! I am definitely a tofu amateur hehe! Thanks for all the great tips on how too. I can’t believe how much that scramble actually looks like eggs. Amazing!

Sounds like you spent good quality time with your mom, which is lovely :) And Miss Chloe is adorable! Her big, blue eyes are just gorgeous.

Enjoy the start of the week Gena :)
~Maggie

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Jessi August 8, 2010 at 12:48 pm

That looks wonderful! I so very much enjoy reading you blog! I have recently been cutting down on meat and dairy and have been using soy milk and tofu as some replacements and they have been so delicious I haven’t missed meat and dairy at all! However, I ran across an article about the dangers of soy, especially tofu. In the article it talked about how heavily processed all soy is and can lead to increased chances of breast cancer due to the estrogen levels in it! Also, it claimed that tofu is full of toxic chemicals. Needless to say it really freaked me out a bit! Could you explain this to me a bit? Have you had any problems with it? When I look it up online of course there are two sides!

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Gena August 8, 2010 at 9:11 pm

Hey Jessi,

Yup, there are two sides. Some claim that the estrogen is good for breast health, others that it’s a risk factor. My mother is a breast cancer survivor, so I try to steer the moderation course. Here’s a post I did on the controversy: http://www.choosingraw.com/the-raw-truth-all-about-soy/.

G

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pure2raw twins August 8, 2010 at 1:17 pm

Chloe is adorable!!! Glad you had a great time with your mom! Our mom is coming up here soon to visit us, cannot wait!

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Lola August 8, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Hi Gena!!! I’m an avid reader of your blog and it has inspired me to eat better. I used to be omnivore, but with very little meat, mostly fish and dairy. wonder if you could help me out here, I’ve been eating vegetarian for about 3 months now, and I was feeling great but I noticed my hair is falling out so much :S I dont know if it has something to do with my eating, maybe is stress (my sister got married yesterday) or hormones?
I usually have cereal, papaya and coffee for breakfast, an apple with peanut butter for snack, sushi for lunch and salad for dinner.
I hope you can help me or at least give me some direction!!!
Thanks in advance Gena.
Lola

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Gena August 8, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Hi Lola,

I usually don’t dispense personal health advice in my comments, but it sounds to me as though you may be skimping on protein. Are you using a protein-rich milk with your cereal? Is there some edamame being served with the sushi? And what’s in your dinner salad? If it’s just greens and fats, you’d probably benefit from adding more sources of protein to your overall day: select soy foods, beans and lentils (key for vegans and vegetarians), and whole grains that are protein rich, like quinoa. Some sprouted breads are high in protein, as are hemp seeds.

I also recommend discussing all dietary changes with your doctor, and letting him or her know if you’re noticing any unwanted changes.

Good luck!

G

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Bianca King August 8, 2010 at 7:27 pm

I have the same problem since becoming dairy and meat free! I had my blood levels checked for iron, etc and those all came back fine. I have also been told that because I am very active that I may need to increase my protein intake. I am not sure if you are a vegan, but if not you could try adding egg whites as a good protein source. I have started adding them to my green monsters. Hemp protein is another good thing to put into smoothies. I am still dealing with hair loss even with the added protein, so have started adding back in some normal organic cow’s milk for the added protein since the almond milk has practically none. Good luck and does anybody else have any advice for us?

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Gena August 8, 2010 at 9:13 pm

Bianca,

Careful not to assume that it’s definitely a protein issue: that was my assumption based on Lola’s diet, but hair loss can result from a ton of other things. For example, I’d suggest you see an endocrinologist and get your thyroid checked!

If it is a protein issue, hemp and brown rice protein powders are great, as are soy foods, for direct and complete protein boosts.

G

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Lola August 8, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Thankyou so much Gena! Actually i think im going to go see my endocrinologist tomorrow, since im recovering from hyperthyroidism. I want to make sure I’m not relapsing or anything!!

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emptyjar August 8, 2010 at 1:24 pm

What kind of books do you like? Read anything good lately (non-work related?).

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Gena August 8, 2010 at 1:31 pm

The last non-fiction I read was THE MORAL ANIMAL. In fiction, I recently read and liked my friend Ben Percy’s THE WILDING, and I re-read (I re-read it every summer) Wallace Stegner’s CROSSING TO SAFETY, which is one of my favorite novels of all time.

Thanks for asking, missy.

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bitt August 8, 2010 at 3:25 pm

My husband makes a mean tofu scramble. But we’ve cut way down on tofu so it’s hardly make here anymore. But his is way better than most restaurant’s versions. Theirs are far too watery.

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Jackie (Peaces of Earth) August 8, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Chloe is so precious!!! And I’m loving your staycation recaps. Way to get mom to enjoy tofu!!

My approach to soy is exactly like yours. For some reason, though, I really wanted tofu last week. I made a tofu scramble for like the second time in my life and it came out pretty good!! I think the addition of nooch is what really makes it. I also love adding onions, but I know you’re not a fan. :)

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Rowie August 8, 2010 at 4:47 pm

I think you converted more than just your mom! That tofu scramble looked great! I do eat tofu, but the scrambles have always turned me off somehow. Lately eggs haven’t been agreeing with me, so it looks like a tofu scramble is on my horizon! Thanks for the great ideas!

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Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) August 8, 2010 at 8:00 pm

“Tofu is never tasty, however, if you don’t press it.” Yes and totally agree with the disaster ‘fu stuff regarding it being bland unless you season the crap out of it! That was so on point!

The scramble looks great and dare I say I cringed when you took that block of perfectly pressed tofu and broke it up and mushed it!! LOL. All that work to preserve the smoothness (and you dont even have a Tofuxpress) and you crumbled it..well, alas, that’s what a scramble is :) I’ve never made a scramble, only clean slices which is why im so anal about not breaking it into pieces..ha!

Ok your bff is named Chloe and now you have a new Chloe in your life..serendipity! It’s sweet to see you holding a baby…before I had Skylar, I never even knew what to do with a baby. Learned on the job though :)

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Laura August 8, 2010 at 8:49 pm

I have never made a tofu scramble… I never buy blocks of tofu, but I did grow up with them! I consider tofu a very neutral flavor, not something I would go for unless for another source of protein. The student coop store at UCSD makes a delicious tofu scramble, though. When I buy soy it’s usually edamame.

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BroccoliHut August 8, 2010 at 9:35 pm

Ah, scrambled tofu–a dish near and dear to my heart. Thanks for the link love:)
Oh, and I kind of want to kidnap Chloe for a day. SO cute!

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Amy Skretta August 8, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Do you use towels to soak up the liquid as the tofu is pressed or is the pressure enough to prevent the water from seeping back in? I’ve never thought of just leaving it… I always manhandle it and go through either tea towels or paper, depending on how eco-friendly I’m feeling, but I like the idea of leaving it to do its own thing.

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Gena August 9, 2010 at 6:31 am

Amy,

The pressure should prevent the liquid from seeping back in. Mom asked the very same question :)

G

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Ilana August 8, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Ok, I can’t believe you have seven honorary stepsiblings. I have six – and a real brother – and oh I thought my life was so weird. Now I don’t anymore.

Anyway I guess it’s time for me to try a tofu scramble. You can make anything look good, I’m sure of it.

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Jenn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) August 9, 2010 at 2:11 am

I’ve been dying to try a tofu scramble! I think they look so tasty! Yours definitely does. I forgot to pick up turmeric at the bulk spices the other day. *sigh* My tofu scramble envy will live on for a bit longer. :(

Jenn

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JL Goes Vegan August 9, 2010 at 6:39 am

It’s funny how long it took me to finally scramble tofu. Yours looks delicious!

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Sarah L. August 9, 2010 at 8:53 am

If you can get your hands on the recipe for the Green Goddess bowl from Fresh (it is in one of their cookbooks) I’d guarantee you can get your mom eating Nori.

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The Voracious Vegan August 9, 2010 at 9:20 am

There’s nothing like a good tofu scramble. A hearty, delicious, and oh so healthy breakfast. Yours looks delicious, Gena!

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melissa August 9, 2010 at 9:50 am

Does Chloe need a babysitter? so so so cute!

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elise August 9, 2010 at 1:33 pm

my parents dont read my blog either. anyways. thats not what im here to say. chloe is so freakin adorable. thats all.

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Tonya August 9, 2010 at 7:13 pm

I have been looking for a good replacement for some egg dishes. This just may be it!! Is tofu easy to digest though? My son has a lot of trouble with beans. Is there a chance it will be the same with tofu? That looks sooo good either way!!

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Julie Lynn August 9, 2010 at 7:54 pm

Aww, little Chloe is so cute! Looks like you had a wonderful “staycation” – good for you. :-)

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Maryam September 23, 2012 at 10:04 am

Hi Gena, I’m using your recipe for a vegetarian project for school tomorrow, but am extremely confused about how much 1/2 a block of tofu is exactly, I mean, wouldnt different companies have different amounts? And Im no good at guessing either, so would really appreciate some help…FAST!

Thanks!

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