What is Tofu and How to Prepare it
As I’ve been reducing my meat consumption, I’ve been exploring ingredients to substitute meat including tofu. Here is some background on this incredibly versatile ingredient!
What is tofu?
Tofu is a soy product originating from China. It is made by pressing condensed soy milk curds into solid white blocks in a process quite similar to cheesemaking.
What are the health benefits of tofu?
Tofu is high in protein and contains all of the essential amino acids your body needs. It also provides fats, carbs, and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals.
What are the varieties of tofu?
Tofu comes in different varieties, the difference between these being how much water is pressed out of the tofu. The more water you press out of it, the firmer it gets and both the fat and protein go up. From least firm to most firm, the most common types of tofu are:
Silken: unpressed Japanese-style tofu, comes in soft, firm, or extra firm. Works well in creamy & blended foods like smoothies, desserts, puddings, salad dressings, sauces, and dips.
Soft: this is the Chinese-style equivalent of silken tofu. It is slightly less smooth but can be used in the same way as silken tofu.
Medium: This is denser than silken but still fairly delicate. It works well in gently simmered soups, like miso.
Firm: This absorbs flavors well and can be stir-fried and pan-fried, and is also great crumbled and used in tofu scrambles.
Extra-firm: Consider extra-firm tofu the all-purpose tofu that holds its shape well and is excellent for slicing and cubing. It’s an ideal choice for pan-frying, stir-frying, baking, grilling, and scrambling.
Preparation and cooking tips for tofu
To prepare and cook the tofu you must firstly press and drain the tofu no matter what kind you’re working with. You can either do this with a tofu press or place the tofu between paper towels and place a heavy object on top. As a rule of thumb press the tofu for about 20 mins.
Next marinate your tofu for at least 30 mins before cooking. Tofu is neutral tasting and has a sponge-like ability to soak up marinades. Freezing the tofu before marinating will make the tofu denser and able to absorb the marinade even better.
When it comes to cooking the tofu, you can either pan fry, stir fry, bake, grill or scramble the tofu.
Check out my recipe for tikka tofu here!