The Joy of Tofu
Tofu gets a bad rap. From complaints about its taste (or lack thereof) and texture, to the possibility of it being generically modified, to just the fact that it is made from soybeans, many people won’t even give tofu a chance. I hope to clear away some of the misconceptions about the lowly tofu, and maybe encourage you to try it out (I’ll link to a couple of my favorite tofu recipes).
Yes, it is true that tofu doesn’t have much taste all on its own. That is also what makes it so perfect to use for almost any purpose. Tofu will absorb the flavor of any sauce or seasoning that you choose to use. The key is to drain and press the tofu first to extract as much water as possible, then marinate it in the sauce of your choice. Well-drained tofu will absorb all the moisture and flavors of that sauce.
There are a couple ways to press tofu. The easiest, no-equipment-needed way is to simply drain the tofu, wrap it in a couple paper towels, and press it under a couple plates, books, or whatever you have handy. Pressing for at least a half hour will produce the best results. Another option of a tofu press. You can place your tofu in the press, screw it down, and it will remove even a greater amount of water. It can even be left in the refrigerator overnight for a firmer, meatier texture.
If you like your tofu with a heavier texture (especially for some recipes) try freezing it before cooking. This can be done either after pressing, or in its original packaging. Freezing might alter the color of the tofu, and will make it more absorbent and dense.
Tofu can be marinated in almost any type of sauce, from bottled marinades to your own favorite recipes. Here is a simple marinade that I frequently use when I’m going to make a tofu “steak” to serve with a salad or potato.
Simple Tofu Marinade
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon liquid heat
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
pepper to taste
In an eight ounce measuring cup, combine all the ingredients, adding the broth last and filling up the cup. Pour over the pressed tofu and marinate for at least 30 minutes, turning occasionally. You can cook them like this, or dredge in flour, bread crumbs or corn meal. Cook over medium heat until browned on each side. Add the remaining marinade and cook until it is hot and slightly thickened.
It is true that soy is one of the most genetically modified plants produced. Much of this soy is used in feed for farm animals, and in processed (human) food. Tofu is much less processed and if you check the packaging for the Non-GMO label and purchase organic tofu, you will not have to worry that your tofu has been genetically engineered.
Health Benefits of Soy
Soy is low in fat, cholesterol free, and has bone-healthy minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Twenty five milligrams of soy protein per day is recognized as beneficial to heart health. The soybean has been described as a Super Food because of its nutrient rich properties, which have been found to be beneficial in fighting many diseases.
In spite of fears that soy isn’t safe for women concerned about breast cancer, study after study has indicated that soy most likely reduces the risk. As for men, soy is recognized as a prostate-friendly food.
I love cooking with tofu. It is inexpensive, healthy, and if you cook it correctly, it tastes delicious. Over the years I have created many tofu recipes. Here are a few of my favorites:
Quiche Who needs eggs? I just made this the other night, substituting mushrooms for the vegan bacon. Delicious!
Pot Pie To me, pot pie is the ultimate comfort food.
Tofu Scramble I can eat a tofu scramble for breakfast, lunch,
and or dinner.
Tofu Burrito I have many burrito recipes (they are one of my favorite
food groups dishes), and this is one of the best.
Vegan Bruschetta Caprese I’ve also made this like a simple caprese salad, substituting the slices of tofu for the buffalo mozzarella.
Triple Protein Packed Salad I make a lot of salads, especially in the summer. Big Salads.
Easy Tofu Bake When you just don’t know what to make for dinner.
Cornmeal Crusted Tofu Like the example with my marinade recipe, this is an easy way to eat tofu on its own.
Vegan Buffalo “Wings” The playoffs are coming! I love “football food” as much as the next girl.
(Tofu) Steak and Potatoes The title of the post is “Sometimes a girl just needs a (tofu) steak and potatoes.”
Pumpkin Pie. Your guests (or you) won’t know it’s vegan!
That should keep you busy for a while! Not on my recipe list, but soft or silken tofu is a perfect addition for smoothies, makes great, creamy sauces, and can be used as a thickener for many dessert recipes.
Do you cook with tofu? Why or why not? Do you have a favorite recipe?
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