Tofu is one of the most underrated foods, with critics condemning it as too bland and boring. What they fail to see is that the simplicity of this dish is actually what makes it so great.
Tofu contains little flavor on its own and easily absorbs the taste of any sauces, spices, and seasonings with which it is paired. Its value, therefore, lies in its versatility. Tofu dishes can either be spicy, sweet, or savory depending on the chef’s desire.
What is tofu?
Tofu is made from soybeans, a member of the legume family of vegetables that originate from China. The soybeans are blended and mixed with water to make soy milk. The soy milk is then boiled and combined with a coagulant to turn the liquid to a solid.
Tofu comes in different textures: silken, soft, firm, and extra-firm. Silken tofu has the texture of custard and is often used as a dairy alternative in a variety of dishes, such as puddings, pies, ice creams, and smoothies. Soft, firm, and extra-firm tofu are all pressed tofu and vary in the amount of water they contain. Soft tofu is good for soups and ramen dishes, firm tofu tastes best in curry dishes and tofu scramble, and firm tofu is good for stir-fry and grilling.
Tofu by itself is vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, cholesterol-free, and low in calories and carbohydrates. It is high in fat and protein. Tofu contains some important vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron manganese, selenium, and vitamin A. With this nutrition profile, tofu is a good option for a variety of diets.
How to make tofu
Tofu is fairly easy to make and requires only three ingredients.
These ingredients are:
Possible coagulants for your tofu recipe are gypsum powder (a soft mineral composed of calcium sulfate dihydrate), nigari (a powder made mostly of magnesium chloride), vinegar, lemon juice, and lime juice.
The equipment needed to make this recipe includes:
- A muslin cloth
- A tofu mold (or any square shaped container or tray)
- A skimmer spoon
- A blender
Homemade tofu instructions
To begin, set two cups of soybeans in a bowl with water and soak for at least six hours (or even leave them out overnight or set them out before heading to work/class).
After the beans have soaked, start making the soy milk. Set the soybeans in a blender with water (about 6 cups). Blend until they obtain a smooth and creamy texture.
Set the soy milk in a pan over medium heat. Remove any foam that forms during the process. Turn off the heat once the milk begins to boil. Gently stir in the coagulant and let sit for 15 minutes.
Note: Regardless of which coagulant is used, start with a 2 tbsp and add more if needed. Before adding the coagulant dilute it with water (about 4 tbsp).
Place a muslin cloth inside the tofu mold. Pour in the milk curds. Wrap the cloth tightly around the milk curds and apply pressure to allow the tofu to harden. This can be accomplished by setting a second mold or other kitchen item on top.
Check every 5-10 minutes until it is the desired consistency. Let it drain for a couple of hours and then place in the fridge for another couple hours if making firm tofu. The firmer the tofu, the less water it contains and the better it will absorb seasonings and sauces.
After preparing the tofu it can be baked, fried, boiled, or grilled. Cut the finished product into small squares and cook as desired.
Pre-cooked tofu should be stored in a container filled with water. It will last in the fridge about 2-3 days.
How to Add Some Taste and Flavor
Once formed into squares, the little tofu bites are a blank canvas to add a variety of different tastes and flavors. Without possessing much flavor themselves, they welcome the addition of any sauces or spices.
Mixed seasonings that taste good on tofu include paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Adding cornstarch before baking is a good way to make the tofu crispy.
Sauces that add some flavor to your tofu dish are soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, buffalo sauce, and peanut sauce.
Another option is to incorporate tofu into one of your favorite meals. Combine it with some curry sauce and white rice to enjoy a tofu curry. Mix it in with some noodles, peanuts, and mixed vegetables for a tofu stir fry. Add it into a tortilla with lettuce, tomatoes, and sour cream to enjoy tofu tacos. With so much versatility, the possibilities are endless.