(For an update on my opinions and experiences with the Tofu Xpress after owning it for several months, check out this updated review.)
If I had to make a list of 100 favorite things, two things that would most certainly be on it would be good mail and kitchen gadgets. Good mail makes ordinary days feel like birthdays or Christmas. (Or I suppose, not at all like Christmas, since there’s no mail delivery that day…) Kitchen gadgets make the day-to-day routine of cooking a little more interesting. Sometimes they make things more convenient (like a Microplane), more fun (like a juicer), and sometimes they just take up space in the kitchen cabinets and drawers (Hello, fondue pot I haven’t used since 2003…) So you can imagine my happiness when my love of good mail and kitchen gadgets intertwined when I was the lucky winner of a Tofu Xpress on Ordinary Vegetarian’s mouthwatering and entertaining blog.
Before that lucky day, I’d thought of purchasing the Tofu Xpress many times. As I posted recently, I already had my own tofu pressing methods. My kettlebell on hardcover book system worked well enough. (Don’t know why a person would want to press tofu? Watch my video.) But the idea that there was a gadget that was easy to store, dishwasher safe, and a master of pressing was intriguing. Plus, not needing to shuffle produce and leftovers around in the refrigerator to make room for a kettlebell and hardcover book was an attractive option, indeed.
The Tofu Xpress is basically a box with a spring-loaded lid. The tension in the spring keeps the tofu pressing while the water from inside of the tofu rises to the top, ready to be dumped. After the tofu has pressed for an hour or more, it’s all set to be marinated. The Xpress comes with a plastic lid that can replace the spring top for easy marinating. Just make your marinade in the box, slide in the tofu, and let it absorb the flavors.
What had stopped me from just buying the Tofu Xpress for myself before now? The price. Since I’ve been very happy with my free method and it provides chewy and flavorful tofu, it was tough to justify spending $39.95 for a spring-loaded box, plus an additional $9.95 for shipping (from their website or Amazon). At a total cost of almost $50, it made my no frills method look pretty good. Still, the Tofu Xpress had been on multiple Christmas and birthday lists of mine, and I was excited to see how it would fare next to my usual methods.
When the Tofu Xpress arrived, I eagerly pulled it from the box. It’s well made in America and comes with full instructions on how to secure the spring loaded lid onto the base by snapping it into place. I used the Xpress right away by making my Lemony Baked Tofu with Rosemary. (I served it with a crisp green salad in creamy garlic dressing.) I put the tofu into the Xpress to press and left it there for about a day.
Then I made the marinade in the bottom of the Xpress box, put the tofu back in, and covered it in its accompanying lid. I let it marinate for about 5 hours. Since my usual amount of marinade didn’t quite cover it, I flipped the tofu once during that time. After it was completely marinated, I cut it into slices and baked it for 35 minutes (5 minutes less than I usually do).
1. The Xpress pressed the tofu well and it was very convenient to pop the marinade into the same box that was used for pressing. (If only the bottom part was made of glass, it could be used for baking as well. How great would that be?)
2. There was no need to run to the workout room for a kettlebell, office for a hardcover book, hall closet for towels, and back to the kitchen for the tofu and plate. The Tofu Xpress easily fits in a kitchen drawer, ready to use at a moment’s notice.
3. Two less dishtowels to wash afterwards.
4. While the tofu is pressing and then marinating, the small square Xpress fits easily into the refrigerator. With the kettlebell on hardcover book method, it took some rearranging in the refrigerator to get everything to fit.
5. The product is made in the USA and supports a small business.
1. The price. $39.95 plus shipping of $9.95 means the Xpress costs about $50. Since most people already have a weight, book, towels, and a plate, a person has to weigh the cost of the item versus the convenience.
2. The tofu had a nice texture, but it wasn’t pressed quite as firmly as my old method. Also, because each tofu slice wasn’t laying flush against the marinade in a shallow dish, it didn’t marinate as completely as it usually does. The flavor was intense on some pieces and not as intense on others, depending on if it was an end piece of tofu or in the middle. I wouldn’t say that’s necessarily the fault of the Xpress; I’m going to cut the tofu into slices before I marinate next time and rotate them throughout their marinating time to infuse each piece with more even flavor.
Final thoughts: Since I got the Xpress, I’ve been using it when things are hectic and I’m looking for ease. I just throw the tofu into the Xpress, and I can get back to it that night or the next day. When I have more time, I do the towel/kettlebell press method.
The Tofu Xpress would be a great gift for someone who is new to tofu but interested in using it more. As I mentioned recently, sometimes people start to glaze over when you explain how to press tofu. Just handing them this simple tool that is a breeze to use makes the whole thing a lot easier. Plus, for people who generally don’t take the time to press their tofu before marinating because they think it’s too much of a hassle, this would be a perfect gadget. It takes the hassle out of it and makes a big difference in terms of texture and flavor.
Thanks again to Ordinary Vegetarian for the awesome contest. It was such a treat to try the Xpress out for myself!
Want to see the Tofu Xpress in action? In the video below I use the Xpress to make Lemon Rosemary Tofu.