Grilling Tofu with a Fish Spatula

Packed with protein, tofu is the perfect little sponge to soak up salty marinades and spicy seasonings, and throwing it on the grill first is the perfect way to elevate your easy tofu recipes to new heights. However, grilling this soybean staple can be tricky due to its characteristically crumbly texture. The solution? Use a fish spatula the next time you grill tofu because it’s the perfect tool for seamlessly sliding under the length of your bean curd without disturbing its tender feta-like texture.

A fish spatula is similar in shape to a regular spatula, except for being slightly slimmer and longer. It also has thin slats running across its width to allow moisture to drip through the bottom. Most commonly made of metal (although silicone and plastic versions are available), a fish spatula has an über-thin edge, making it perfect for sliding underneath delicate filets of fish so they can be flipped or removed from a grill or skillet in one piece. However, this quality also makes it an indispensable utensil for turning other soft-textured foods that have a long shape, like slices of marinated tofu.

While regular spatulas do a great job of flipping fried eggs, pancakes, and latkes, they aren’t long enough to slide underneath the entire length of marinated tofu that’s been cut into large rectangles — the tofu ends up hanging over the sides, causing it to break in half or crumble into pieces. Similarly, tongs, which squeeze the sides of the tofu as it’s lifted and turned, can cause it to fall apart or dent its yielding edges.

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How to flip tofu with a fish spatula

Fish spatula and plate of fried fish

Slide your fish spatula under one side of your tofu and gently glide it forward, using the thin edge to release any bits that have started to stick to the grates. Once your tofu is safely on the surface of your spatula you can flip it over in one fluid motion. Any moisture released by the tofu as it grills will drip through the slats on your spatula when you turn it over, resulting in a crispier finish. Once your tofu is cooked to your liking, you can use your spatula to transfer it to a serving plate with ease. Making tofu kebabs that have stuck to the grates? Use your fish spatula to dislodge them first before turning them over by the ends of your skewers.

If your tofu is still breaking into pieces on the grill, despite turning it gently with a fish slice, consider removing the excess water from it before cooking. While firm or extra firm tofu that has a dense, squeaky texture is drier than other varieties of tofu, it can still benefit from being wrapped in a paper towel and pressed with a heavy object, like a skillet or plate to extract any residual moisture. The pressure forces the water out, resulting in drier tofu that’s more inclined to crisp up on the grill in one piece and less likely to crumble.

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