Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Vegan MoFo - September 3rd - Spotlight on... Tofu

Tofu.

The word strikes fear into the heart of omnivores. The unknown substance that is a bit squidgy, a bit crumbly, a bit solid. But what is it??

Background

The origin of tofu dates back some 2000 years to China – legend tells us that prince Liu An invented the stuff (but who knows!!). It then spread to other parts of East Asia, and is still a staple food source there. The English word “tofu” (also known as “bean curd”) is derived from the Japanese “tōfu”, which comes from the Chinese “dòufu” which is “bean” plus “curdled” / “fermented”. 

Tofu is made by coagulating (curdling) soy milk and pressing the curds into soft blocks. It can be fresh (produced directly from soy milk, usually sold in water) or processed (produced from fresh tofu – e.g. fermented, flavoured), and comes in many varieties including firm, soft and silken. It has a very mild flavour that makes it perfect for using in both sweet and savoury dishes to soak up stronger flavours.

Nutrition

Tofu is fairly low in calories and high in protein, with little fat. This, combined with its high iron content makes it a great food for vegans as it ticks the protein and iron boxes (also calcium in some cases, depending on the production process used). Protein values in tofu can range from around 5-10%, and it is said that 25g tofu per day can help to reduce cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.

Uses

One of my favourite ways to use tofu is just to scramble it. You can add any herbs or spices that you like; a bit of nutritional yeast (which will be covered in a later post) to thicken it up and add another depth of flavour; make it as wet or solid as you like; add vegetables, seeds, etc… The list goes on. And it’s quick!

Tofu is also tasty fried or baked, after being pressed and marinated. You press the water out of the tofu to help it absorb the flavours of the marinade. This also gives it a firmer texture, rather than the wobbly stuff it generally is when it comes out of the packet.

Tofu is a great egg-replacer. As I’ve said above, you can scramble it like eggs (and I’ve heard that with the right seasonings you can even make it taste like scrambled eggs if you want!) and I’ve seen a few recipes floating around online for tofu “fried eggs” that I’ve not found time to try yet but look yummy. Using tofu also makes a lovely texture for eggless quiches and frittatas, or creamy sauces – the possibilities for dinner (or breakfast! or lunch!) are endless!

Blended silken tofu is a popular substitute for eggs in baking. Using 1/4 cup of blended silken tofu (measured after blending) is equivalent to 1 egg and just needs to be mixed in when you would normally add your eggs. It works best in heavy cakes like brownies and pancakes – if you want something light and fluffy go for soy milk and vinegar instead. Again, you can use tofu to thicken up your creamy sauces and give them sweet flavours if you want to.

The most widely available tofu where I live is Cauldron which is available in most supermarkets these days. There are plenty of recipes available online if you want to try your hand at cooking with it!

And because there haven't been any photos in this post - a kitten!



6 comments:

  1. Nice post about tofu, but sorry to say cute kitty brought me here!
    I buy Cauldron too as they're so easy to source; their recently re-released beech smoked tofu is IMO the best, though slightly more expensive.

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    1. I've not managed to get hold of any of the beech smoked stuff but it sounds yummy! And no need to apologise, I'm all about cute kitties!!

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  2. First time I cooked tofu I knew none of this really useful information. Just chopped up the (unpressed!) block and added it to my sauce. It was a disaster! Thankfully I've become much better at cooking it since :)

    ...I've broken my squee with that kitten shot though. So much cute in one fuzzy bundle!

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    1. Haha. We have three kittens and they do something to break the 'adorable' gauge every day!

      Tofu was a bit of a learning curve for me too but I think I have it down to an art now! Although I do still have some non-vegans to win over on the texture...

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  3. I love tofu!!

    And that kitty is just too darn cute!

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    1. Haha yay!

      Aww, kitty is getting so many compliments I'll have to give her her own blog!

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