The best way to eliminate ambiguity is to use the names as a general guideline and then inspect the protein content per serving listed on the package.
Tofu, which is made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the curds to various degrees to drain the liquid whey, is typically classified according to its texture: Silken, soft, firm, and extra-firm are the most common. But because these categories are not industry-regulated, we’ve found that one manufacturer’s “soft” tofu can be pudding-like, while another’s is dense enough to cut into pieces. That’s a problem when you need firm curds that will hold up to breading and frying or plush-but-set curds for our Sichuan Braised Tofu with Beef (Mapo Tofu).
The best way to eliminate ambiguity is to use the names as a general guideline and then inspect the protein content per serving listed on the package—a tip we picked up from cookbook author Andrea Nguyen. In general, the more protein each 3-ounce serving contains, the firmer the tofu will be. For shopping purposes, we evaluated the firmness of several tofus that ranged from 4 to 14 grams of protein per serving. We coated and fried them, braised them, and simmered them in miso soup before settling on the following preferred protein content ranges for each category.
Silken: 4 to 5 grams
Soft: 5 to 7 grams
Firm: 7 to 8 grams
Extra-Firm: 8+ grams