Quick Answer: Since tofu is technically cooked and pasteurized before it's packaged, you can safely eat it raw right out of the package you get from the grocery store. It's not the most tasty option, but some people love it.
Before you go, there's a few other things about raw tofu you should know about...
What is Raw Tofu?
Tofu is simply soy milk that's been curdled and pressed into a block - and like I mentioned it's pre-cooked and pasteurized. The process is similar to cottage cheese (which have obvious curds that you can see), except for the fact that it's formed into a block and that there's no dairy.
Unlike raw animal products, it doesn't come with the risk of dangerous pathogens. Just because people treat tofu as a "meat replacement" that doesn't mean that it's anything like meat in the way that it's produced.
Either way, raw tofu is a great source of vegan and vegetarian protein. It's also regularly enjoyed by some of the longest living populations around the world, especially in many Asian countries. Although they usually eat it prepared in some way rather than raw.
Favorite Way to Eat It Raw
While I prefer to cook my tofu, here's what I like to do if I'm going to eat it raw if I'm in a hurry.
- Take it out of the package and drain the water.
- Slice tofu into thin slices or cubes so there's plenty of surface area to absorb liquid.
- Drip soy sauce and lemon juice over the tofu and gently mix around. Be gently so it doesn't fall apart.
- Enjoy a "tofu tartar" of sorts!
Fast Ways to Prepare It
You don't necessarily have to eat tofu raw if you're in a hurry. There are other ways to prepare it quickly that taste a lot better - at least in my opinion.
- Microwave - Sounds strange, but you can absolutely make tofu in the microwave. You can use this easy recipe for microwave tofu or just slice it thin and throw it on a plate. Microwave for 1-2 minutes and then dip it in your favorite sauce or seasonings.
- Oven - Slicing tofu and throwing it in the oven is an easy way to cook it quickly. The thinner you slice it, the faster it will cook. Additionally, if you get the water out beforehand (more on that below) it will cook even faster.
If you do have time to cook and prepare the tofu, consider checking out a tofu press (I own several of them). By pressing the water out, you allow the tofu to absorb marinades and concentrate it's natural flavor profile.
In a given raw tofu package, you'll find around 360 calories, 18 grams of fat, 13.5 grams of carbohydrates, and 40.5 grams of protein. That said, it's a pretty efficient way to get protein in if you're doing bodybuilding or any other sort of athletic endeavor and require it.
I've always found that tofu is a snack that you can't go wrong with. It can take on almost any flavor that you want. Even sweet flavor profiles are delicious if you get the soft and silken.
Even though you can eat tofu raw, there's really no reason to unless you're in a hurry. I've always thought that it doesn't taste very good, but if you like it more power to you.
At the very least, try out the microwave method that I mentioned earlier in the article and see how you like it!