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Thursday, February 21, 2013

What is Tofu? Top Tips and Info For Cooking Tofu

  Posted by Chantel M. recipe Contributed By

Tofu is a wonderful Chinese invention, made by curdling and pressing soy milk in a technique similar to making cheese. Not surprisingly then, it is sometimes referred to as soy cheese. There are two huge benefits of tofu; its excellent nutritional value and its versatility.
Tofu, also known as beancurd, is extremely nutritious. It is high in protein and a good source of iron. It is low in fat and cholesterol free. For these reasons, it makes an excellent meat substitute for vegetarians and vegans. However, it is very commonly used alongside meat in many Asian dishes and is much more than just a meat substitute.
Tofu is most traditionally associated with Asian food but it lends itself to a huge variety of dishes. The most common types of tofu available to buy are firm or soft (silken). Firm tofu is best in dishes like stir fries or curries while soft tofu is good for dressings and sweet dishes.

Straight from the packet, this simple ingredient has little flavour but that is a big part of what makes it so versatile. You can cut it up and cook it in a stir fry as it is but take some time to prepare it using the tips below and you can dramatically improve its flavour and texture.
Pressing tofu
Firm tofu is stored in water and is usually pretty water-logged when you unwrap it at home. It is a good idea to press it by wrapping the whole block in paper towels and placing a weight on it for about 20 minutes. This will remove that excess water giving your tofu a great texture and helping it to absorb flavours when cooked.
Freezing is not just convenient. It gives your beancurd a chewier, slightly more "meaty" texture which can add more depth to your tofu recipes. This is an especially good technique for stir fry recipes and it is a method used by many top Chinese restaurants.
Because tofu is naturally quite bland, it works well with marinades. Cut your block into bite-sized pieces and marinate it before cooking to really get the most out of your tofu. Garlic, ginger, honey, soy sauce and chillies are all good ingredients in a marinade. Alternatively, use a sauce straight from the jar such as barbeque or sweet chilli. Another option is buying tofu that has already been marinated. Marinated tofu is available in many supermarkets and wholefood stores.
Emer Dwane writes Everyday Vegetarian Recipes, a website that's all about simple and delicious vegetarian food for everyday living. You'll find lots more information on her website on how to cook tofu as well as many mouth-watering tofu recipes. Why not try sesame tofu, teriyaki tofu or a wonderful smoked tofu, spinach and tomato pie?

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