Under Appreciated Food: Tofu
by Karin LaRonde
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a package of regular tofu for the first time is quite a surprise.
You stand there looking at a white block of ‘stuff’
that is submerged in what you think might be water. Let's face
it, this may not be the most appetizing introduction to this wonderful
and useful food. Tofu is a white soybean curd formed into blocks
or cakes. These blocks come in a variety of textures which can
be used to add a new dimension to meals. Tofu is added to recipes
more for its texture than its flavor, since it has an extremely
mild taste that is overwhelmed by the flavors of anything it is
cooked with. Because tofu can create a desired texture in a recipe
without affecting the flavor of the dish, the uses of tofu in
the kitchen are endless.
protein is complete. It has all eight essential amino acids. In
this respect, the soy bean is no ordinary bean. As cheese is to
milk, so tofu is to the soybean. As a cow gives milk, so does
a soybean give soyamilk. As animal milk is separated into curds
and whey in the production of cheese, so soyamilk is separated
into curds and whey to form tofu. Tofu consists of approximately
equal calorie percentages of protein and unsaturated fat. Although
high in fat, it is cholesterol free. The vegetable protein in
tofu is much easier to digest than the protein found in animal
foods. Compared to hamburger, tofu has a quarter of the calories,
less fat, and more calcium. The nutritional content of tofu will
vary slightly depending on what strain of bean was used and its
are two varieties of tofu. Firm Tofu is the more versatile of
the two varieties. It is truly like the potato in it's usefulness.
Silken Tofu is best eaten raw or used in Soups, most notably Miso
Soup. Silken Tofu does not stir fry well. It is rather custard-like,
similar in texture to a Jell-O. The texture can be dramatically
changed into a dry, flaky almost fish-like consistency by freezing
and thawing it. Because of it's consistency, it will not absorb
the flavors of the meats and vegetables being fried like Firm
Tofu will, and it also tends to crumble. Silken Tofu often comes
inside foil packages from Japan. In this case, the Silken Tofu
is ultra-pasteurized and so has a very long shelf life.
Firm and Silken Tofu are available in most grocery stores in the
vegetable section. Firm Tofu is always fresh and is like a dairy
product in that it must be refrigerated and has a short shelf
life. It is normally sold in plastic tubs, immersed in water.
The water should be poured off, the tofu rinsed and patted dry
tofu makes the entire block uniformly firmer. This is the technique
to use if a recipe calls for firm tofu and you happen to have
soft tofu in the refrigerator. To press a block of tofu, place
it between towels and put a heavy weight (such as a cast iron
frying pan, concrete paving blocks, or bricks) on top and let
it sit for an hour or so. Storing or cooking pressed tofu in a
liquid will undo the effects of the pressing. Pressing silken
tofu dries it out and causes it to lose its creamy characteristic
and may produce a chicken-like texture.
head garlic 2 T. olive oil
1 lb. silken tofu 1/4 c. olive oil
2 tsp. wet mustard 2 tsp. salt
pinch white pepper
2 tsp. fresh herbs (rosemary, basil, dill, etc)
garlic in blender of food processor. Add remaining ingredients.
Process until smooth. Serve as a dip or spread on organic whole
grain bread, pita bread or crackers.
1 pound firm TOFU (pressed to remove excess water)
3 T. Braggs Liquid Aminos,naturally brewed shoyu or tamari
3 T. lemon juice 1 T. vegetable oil
1 T. curry powder 1 T. minced fresh ginger
1 tsp. minced garlic pinch cayenne
tofu at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut tofu
into thirds lengthwise, then in half into triangles. Place in
shallow baking pan or pie plate. Whisk all marinade ingredients
together in a bowl and pour over tofu. Marinate at least 15 minutes,
turning once. Bake until marinade is absorbed and tofu is golden,
about 40 minutes. Serve with Basmati rice.
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