Updated Post: 08/05/2020
What is Tofu?
Tofu is prepared from coagulated soy milk. The coagulated white solid mass is pressed much like any cheese or paneer to remove excess water. Depending on the process, tofu can be firm, soft or silken. It is believed that Tofu originates from China. It was accidentally discovered about 2000 years ago by a Chinese cook. He mixed a batch of fresh soy milk with nigari. Nigari is what is left when salt is removed from seaweeds. Nigari is used to coagulate soy milk as it helps to solidify the tofu and keep it firm.
Also known as bean curd, some believe that tofu is not good for health while there are some who swear by it as a rich source of protein. If you enjoy tofu, its best to go for soy which is not genetically modified.
What is Soy, Soy Bean or Soya Beans?
Soy bean is a legume which is very popular in the East of Asia. Many products are made from soy beans like tofu, tempeh, natto, fermented soy paste, miso, soy sauce, etc. There is a lot of controversy about soy beans and soy products being unhealthy as it messes up with the hormone balance in our bodies. However, its an individual choice as I believe that it cannot be harmful as soy beans and soy bean products have been and still are a major part of the SE Asian Cuisine. Soy beans and soy bean products are what all vegetarians and especially vegans turn to for their source of protein.
Is it Bean Card or Bean Curd
Have you noticed how in so many Chinese and Indo – Chinese restaurants bean curd is spelt as bean cards? 🙂 🙂 The first time I read that at a Chinese Restaurant here in Mombasa, I was wondering what it was as it was under the Vegetarian Menu. The manager kindly explained in his broken English what it was. That was my first introduction to tofu some 40 years ago!
How is Tofu made?
Soy beans are soaked overnight in water. The water is drained out. The beans are then ground with fresh water to get soy milk. This liquid is heated up and strained. The strained liquid is heated again and the coagulant is added. This mixture is drained using a cheesecloth. The solid remains in the cloth. Its shaped and pressed. Its not a very easy process to make tofu at home.
How can one use Tofu?
Tofu on its own tends to be tasteless. However, it is possible to make it more flavorful and use it in a variety of dishes from dips to desserts.
As a Dip:
Archana makes a creamy Silken Tofu Ranch Dressing which you can use as a dip or as a salad dressing.
Make a Starter:
Sasmita loves to add tofu along with vegetables to the Tofu Dumplings Stir Fry that her family enjoys.
Tofu and Salads:
Tofu can easily be added to a salad to make it into a light meal. I find that stir fried, braised, or pan seared tofu with spices or herbs tastes so much better in a salad. Scroll down for a delish salad recipe.
Add Tofu to your Soup:
Make a hearty soup with vegetables and tofu. Perfect as a wholesome meal. Check out the vegetarian version of the famous Tom Yum Soup.
How about a Side Dish?
Sasmita pairs fresh French Beans and Tofu very well to make a Vegan Kasoi Bwtwi.
Tofu in Main Dishes:
- Do you follow a vegan diet and miss your paneer butter masala? Uma loves to replace paneer with tofu to make this rich and creamy Tofu Butter Masala. Just make sure you use a vegan butter.
- Namrata loves to enjoy Teriyaki Tofu on its own as a healthy meal. Tofu can be quite filling. Check out THE PASSION PANTRY for some healthy and fun recipes.
- Poonam serves Tofu Bell Pepper Stir Fry with rice. This combination also makes a filling and healthy meal.
- Want to try out a vegetarian Korean dish? Preethi makes a delicious Spicy Braised Tofu /Dubu Jorim, which her family loves.
- A Tofu Wrap is filling, add loads of veggies and marinated tofu in a wrap.
Tofu and Dessert
You will be surprised that there is a huge variety of desserts made using tofu.
- Seema adds tofu and wholewheat flour to make Eggless Tofu Brownies which make a great dessert option served with ice cream.
- Priya adds tofu to make Eggless Banana Muffins. Did you know that tofu is a good replacement for eggs? For every egg use 1/4 cup of silken tofu.
Enjoy Tofu for Breakfast
Though Usha loves to enjoy Scrambled Tofu with Tomatoes and Scallions for dinner or lunch, I’d love to enjoy it for breakfast in place of scrambled eggs.
While my experiment in the kitchen with Tofu is really limited as I don’t get it readily in Mombasa, I try out dishes whenever I get some. One of the dishes that I really love to make is Tofu Salad. Usually, I marinate the tofu in soy sauce and spices. A quick stir fry with whatever vegetables are available and hey presto! You get a super healthy and filling meal. Enjoy the salad as a light meal or as a side dish. During my stay in Bali with my son, I used tofu often whenever I cooked.
Ingredients required for Tofu Salad:
- Tofu – firm or medium texture is best
- Vegetables of your choice – I have used carrot, cauliflower, cucumber, onion, bell pepper as those were at hand. You can easily use other vegetables like zuchini, broccoli, mushrooms, baby corn, celery, etc.
- Fresh Garlic – minced
- Fresh Ginger – minced
- Onion – use either purple, white, yellow or spring onion.
- Soy Sauce – use either light or dark. I used the dark one.
- Salt – be careful how you much you add as soy sauce is salty
- Fresh Coarsely Ground Pepper – freshly ground pepper adds a lovely flavour
- Sesame oil – I love the nutty earthy taste of sesame oil. If you don’t have any, add any oil of your choice
- Honey or Brown Sugar – I used honey
- Vinegar – Ideally Rice Vinegar is best for this dish but you can use any like apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar
- Sesame Seeds – optional, I sprinkled some as I love to use them
- It is not gluten free as most soy sauce contain wheat. However do check the supermarkets for a gluten free version
- 200 g tofu
- 1 medium carrot
- 1 cup cauliflower florets bite size
- 1 medium cucumber sliced
- 1 small onion
- ½ bell pepper any colour
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp sesame seed oil
- 1 tsp fresh ginger paste
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper powder coarsely ground
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar or any other good vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey or brown sugar
- 1 tsp sesame seeds (optional) toasted in a pan
- 1 tbsp chopped spring onion (optional)
- ½ tsp red chilli flakes or chopped green chilli
Prepare the Salad Ingredients:
- Cube the tofu into bite size pieces.
- Peel and slice the carrot. The slices should not be too thick or too think.
- Peel and cut the onion into chunks.
- Cut the bell pepper into chunks.
Prepare the Marination Sauce:
- Mix all the ingredients for the marination together in a big bowl except for the cucumber.
- Add all the vegetables and tofu into the bowl which has the marination sauce.
- Mix well.
- Cover the bowl with a lid or cling film and let it marinate for 30 minutes.
Prepare the Tofu Salad:
- Heat a pan with 1 tbsp vegetable oil of your choice over high heat.
- Add the marinated ingredients.
- Stir it gently for about 4-5 minutes.
- Add the cucumber slices and mix well.
- Transfer the Tofu Salad into a serving plate.
- Sprinkle the topping of your choice and serve.
- Serve this salad with any vegetables of your choice.
- Don't over cook the vegetables. They should be crispy and crunchy.
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