Tofu Types

Written By Likai Yao

​Tofu is a component in East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines and one of my favorite ingredients. Growing up I can still remember all the delicious dishes my dad cooked using different types of tofu.

Tofu is a versatile ingredient that is rich in protein, making it a great meat substitute for vegetarians. Here are some of my favourite types of tofu along with some details on texture, taste, and cooking suggestions.

Tofu Types by Firmness

Fresh Silken or Custard Tofu

Silken tofu is soft with a smooth texture equivalent to a thin custard or heavy cream.

Silken tofu is best used in delicate dishes like puddings, custards, and sauces.

Image of silken tofu

Photo by Andrea Nguyen

Soft Block Tofu

Soft tofu has a somewhat creamy texture, milky, and sweet flavour. Soft tofu breaks up easily with handling, and adds a bit of texture to a dish.

This form of tofu can be eaten raw, but is usually pureed or boiled. It is commonly used in stews, mapo tofu, tofu tart and hiyayakko (cold tofu).

Image of soft tofu

Photo by kattebelletje

Medium Block Tofu

Medium-firm tofu has more texture than soft tofu, but will still break apart with handling.

Medium tofu is usually served pressed, drained, salt soaked, frozen, stir fried, baked, or even fermented. You can try it in tofu curry, tofu salad, grilled tofu, or tofu couscous.

Image of medium tofu

Photo by Ron Dollete

Firm Block Tofu

​Firm tofu has a crispy exterior and soft creamy middle, meaning it holds together better than other tofu textures. It still contains a great amount of moisture.

Firm tofu is often served stir fried or in stewed dishes where it can be battered, crusted, baked or boiled. It can also be frozen and then crumbled. Try firm tofu in ELLICSR Kitchen's Yummy Ramen with Shiitake & Kombu Dashi recipe.

Image of firm tofu

Photo by I Believe I Can Fry

Flavoured Tofu

Dry, Gan, or Five Spice Tofu

An ultra-dense block of tofu is stained a deep purple/brown and seasoned strongly, usually with Chinese five spice powder. It is then baked and pressed into tight cubes.

Five spice tofu will work in any dish to give it stronger flavours. It is often used in vegetarian stir fry or stir-fried green beans.

Image of five spice tofu

Photo by Sharyn Morrow

Smoked Tofu

This extra-firm tofu is most often smoked in tea leaves, giving it a light hue and smokey flavor. No preparation work needed, simply remove it from the package and it's ready to eat.

Smoked tofu works in any dish where you're looking for a smokey and chewy texture. Try it in quinoa & smoked tofu salad, or with broccoli and teriyaki sauce.

Image of smoked tofu

Photo by kattebelletje


Inari is a sweet and salty fried tofu pocket. Like smoked tofu, there is no preparation work needed.

Inari is usually served stuffed with sushi rice or added to brothy soups. Common recipes that use inari are Japanese vegetable and rice stuffed tofu, inari sushi, or vegetable soup with Inari.

Image of inari stuffed with rice

Photo by di.wineanddine

Stinky Tofu

Stinky tofu or chòu dòufu is a form of fermented tofu that has a strong odour.

Stinky tofu can be eaten cold, steamed, stewed, or most commonly, fried and is often accompanied by chili sauce.

Image of stinky black tofu

Photo by LWYang