Tofu is a versatile ingredient made from soybeans that has been a staple of Asian cuisine for centuries. While tofu can be found in firm, extra firm, and soft varieties, silky tofu has a unique texture that lives up to its name. So what exactly does silky tofu taste like?
The Texture of Silky Tofu
Silky tofu, sometimes labeled as kinugoshi tofu, has a custard-like texture that is smooth, creamy, and silky. It has a very soft,almost melt-in-your-mouth consistency similar to a soft-set pudding or custard. When you scoop up a piece of silky tofu with chopsticks or a spoon, it easily breaks apart. The texture comes from the soy milk used to make it. Silky tofu is made by coagulating soy milk without curdling it. It is gently handled to keep the curds as intact as possible.
The resulting tofu has a much finer texture than regular soft tofu. While soft tofu still has a identifiable curd structure, silky tofu has an ultra-smooth, pudding-like texture without any noticeable curds. It is so soft and delicate that it can’t be fried or sautéed without falling apart. Silky tofu is best used gently heated in soups or hot pots, added to smoothies, or just served chilled.
The Flavor of Silky Tofu
Silky tofu has a very mild flavor on its own. It has even less discernible beany or soy flavor than regular tofu. The smooth, almost creamy-tasting tofu has a very subtle sweetness and allows other ingredients and seasonings to shine. It takes on the flavor of everything it is cooked or marinated with.
Some descriptions of the mild taste:
- Creamy and slightly sweet
- Mild and milky
- Smooth and delicate
Since silky tofu is so gentle in flavor, it benefits from seasoning and combining with sauces, herbs, spices, and other ingredients. Marinating brings out bolder flavors and textures. Here are some ways to add more flavor to silky tofu:
- Marinate in soy sauce, sesame oil, and garlic
- Season with salt, pepper, and cornstarch for pan frying
- Add to flavorful sauces and curries
- Blend into sweet or savory smoothies
- Top with a flavorful chili crisp and scallions
The Best Cuisines for Silky Tofu
Silky tofu is used in many types of Asian cuisine, but is especially prevalent in these dishes:
In Japan, silky tofu is known as kinugoshi tofu. It’s a staple ingredient in both traditional and modern Japanese cooking. Some popular uses include:
- Chawanmushi – Savory steamed egg custard
- Yudofu – Simmered in hot pots with kombu dashi
- Zaru Tofu – Chilled and served with soy sauce and toppings
- Tofu no miso ni – Tofu and vegetables in miso sauce
- Smoothies – Blended into fruit smoothies
Chinese cooking uses silky tofu in soups, braises, desserts, and many other dishes. Some examples include:
- Douhua – Warm silky tofu served as a sweet dessert
- Mapo doufu – Spicy dish with meat and silky tofu
- Congee and jook – Served in savory rice porridges
- Hot pot – Cooked tableside in flavorful broth
Silky soft tofu features in many classic Korean preparations. It’s used in:
- Soondubu jjigae – Spicy soft tofu stew
- Dubu kimchi – Silky tofu and kimchi stew
- Dubu buchimgae – Pan-fried silky tofu
- Sundubu – Cold tofu soup
Comparing Silky Tofu to Other Tofu Varieties
Not all tofu is created equal. Here’s how silky tofu stacks up in texture and taste compared to other common types of tofu:
|Silken/Silky||Smooth and custard-like||Very mild|
|Soft||Pillowy and delicate||Mild|
|Medium||Custardy but slightly firmer||Mildly bean-y|
|Firm||Dense and solid||Bean-y|
|Extra Firm||Very dense and chewy||Strong bean flavor|
As you can see, the softer varieties of tofu like silky and soft have a much more delicate texture and subtle flavor than firm or extra firm. Silky tofu is the smoothest and mildest tasting of all.
Where to Buy Silky Tofu
Authentic silky tofu can be found at most Asian grocery stores or well-stocked supermarkets. Look for it sold in aseptic packaging that does not require refrigeration until opening. It is often labeled as “silken tofu” but sometimes also sold as kinugoshi, soft Japanese-style, or douhua tofu. Popular brands include:
- House Foods
- Mori Nu
- Sun Noodle
- Ota Tofu
The tofu is usually sold in 12-16 oz packages. Custard-style Chinese silky tofu for making douhua can also sometimes be found refrigerated in tubs.
Storing and Handling Silky Tofu
Silky tofu is more delicate than regular tofu and requires some special care. Here are some tips for handling it:
- Store unopened tofu in pantry until the use-by date
- Once open, transfer any leftovers to an airtight container
- Store opened tofu in the refrigerator for 3-5 days
- Avoid freezing, as this changes the texture
- Handle gently when scooping out portions
- Avoid squeezing or excess pressing
Properly stored, silky tofu will keep its satiny texture for several days. The key is to handle it delicately at all times and not expose it to excess moisture that can make it mushy.
Cooking Tips for Silky Tofu
Silky tofu requires some special preparation methods to keep its delicate texture intact. Here are some cooking tips:
- Marinate Gently – Cut tofu into portions and marinate in sauce, being careful not to over-stir or roughly handle.
- Cook at Low Temps – Gently simmer in broths, poach, or steam. Avoid high-heat methods like frying.
- Add at the End – When adding to soups or curries, gently stir in at the very end.
- Avoid Overmixing – When adding to smoothies, blend briefly just to incorporate.
- Chill Completely – If serving cold, allow tofu to fully chill in fridge overnight to firm up.
Following these tips will ensure your silky tofu keeps its delicate, melt-in-your mouth texture.
Simple Silky Tofu Recipes
If you’re new to cooking with silky tofu, try out these easy recipe ideas:
Sesame Silky Tofu
- 1 package silky tofu, drained and cut into cubes
- 2 Tbsp sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- In a shallow dish, gently toss tofu with sesame oil, soy sauce, and garlic. Marinate 10 minutes.
- Transfer tofu to a plate and garnish with sesame seeds and scallions.
Silky Tofu Banana Smoothie
- 1 package silky tofu
- 2 ripe bananas, frozen
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 Tbsp honey or maple syrup (optional)
- In a blender, combine all ingredients.
- Blend until smooth and creamy, about 30 seconds.
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 package silky tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 Tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 Tbsp doubanjiang (chili bean paste)
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 2 tsp minced ginger
- 2 scallions, chopped
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- In a wok, cook pork breaking it into small crumbles, 3-4 minutes.
- Add Sichuan peppercorns, chili bean paste, garlic, and ginger. Cook 1 minute.
- Gently add silky tofu cubes and heat through, 2-3 minutes.
- Mix in scallions and sesame oil. Top with additional scallions.
What Does It Taste Like? A Creamy, Delicate Treat
So in summary – what does silky tofu really taste like? When prepared properly, it has a smooth, creamy texture with a very subtle sweetness. The soft custard-like tofu can seem bland on its own, but takes on flavors beautifully. It’s perfect for blending into desserts and smoothies or adding a luxurious finish to Asian soups and hot pots. With its satiny texture and mild taste, silky tofu is a unique and delicate treat for any adventurous eater.