Half of the time I buy tofu at the grocery store a curious cashier asks, what I’m going to do with that tofu, or what do you do with tofu in general. These are probably not people, who are going to rush out and eat tofu, but they don’t know, and they truly want and answer. There are others who want to know what to do with it, because they actually want to eat it.
I have heard a few people tell me they hate tofu. After that I ask if they had plain tofu. The answer is usually yes. Don’t eat tofu plain. You, like most others, won’t like it. That’s because tofu has no flavor. The worst thing about it is that it has no flavor. But that makes it the best thing about it also. Like an artist, a chef can think of tofu as a blank canvas. There are so many possibilities. Savory dishes or desserts can be made using tofu.
Tofu, which is also called bean curd, is made from coagulating soy milk and pressing the resulting curd into a block. Calcium sulfate is the most common coagulate used. Tofu is very popular in Asian cuisines such as Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Thai. It is often fried. When ordering at restaurants make sure they have fried tofu because it is the most flavorful. Make sure they don’t have silken tofu because it will have no flavor and will be slimy. Tofu has a lot of protein and it is relatively low in calories. It is also high in calcium, iron, and magnesium.
Tofu can be used in anything from stir-fries to pies. If adding tofu to a stir fry it is best to buy a firm or extra firm tofu. Tofu can often be found in the natural foods section of your local grocery store or at a specialty Asian food store. Most tofu will be packed in water. It is recommended that you drain the water out of the tofu. You don’t have to do this if your tofu is not packed in water. I don’t always do this when I am in a hurry, but it is a good idea. To drain the water from the tofu use a clean towel or paper towel. Place the tofu between the folded towel and put a plate on top of that. Then use something heavy like a canned good and gently press. After you get the water out you can cut the tofu in cubes of any size you desire. At this point you can choose to fry the tofu or not. If you don’t fry it I would recommend marinating it for a while in any flavor you like before you use it, adding it to, perhaps vegetables and grains. If frying the tofu, deep fry it like you would anything else. Beside stir-fry, try tofu in salads, sandwiches, soups, or on noodles.
You can use silken tofu which is slimier and less solid than other firm kinds of tofu. When mixed in a food processor silken tofu has a creamy consistency similar to a pudding. This makes this kind of tofu great for puddings, pies, dips, soups, smoothies, or it can be used to make an eggless omelet.
Tofu’s versatility has made is a popular food to experiment with. Taste what’s out there from restaurants and friends. Try to emulate what you like, and do some experimenting with it on your own. With tofu’s nutritional values it will make a great meal or dessert for your whole family.