..The Intuitive Times
Kitchen Korner


The Under Appreciated Food: Tofu

by Karin LaRonde

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Opening 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.

Soy 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 processing method.

There 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.

Both 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 before using.

Pressing 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.



1 medium 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)

Mince 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.

Curried Tofu

1 pound firm TOFU (pressed to remove excess water)

Marinade Ingredients:
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

Press 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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