Tofu is a nifty food. Some people don’t like the spongy texture and find it bland. But the great thing about tofu is that it’s adaptable to any flavor you cook with it.
It’s also modest in calories—94 per half cup—with 10 grams of protein, zero cholesterol and just 1% carb, which is dietary fiber. There are large amounts of calcium and iron and nice hits of B6 and magnesium. It’s a gluten-free product.
We’re neither vegetarian or vegan, but a few years ago we started to add more tofu to our diet as a New Year’s resolution to cut back on cholesterol-laden proteins and to eat more sustainably (animal methane is the #1 contributor to greenhouse gas).
Now, we’re hooked. At Asian restaurants, we’ll typically choose a tofu dish over more “meaty” options.
Don’t be afraid to experiment at home. Tofu is very easy to work with once you try it. As you learn the range of tofu styles available, you’ll discover how it can add a new dimension to your cooking.
We love to snack on fried tofu instead of mozzarella sticks. Enjoy them with a fat-free Greek yogurt dip or with a ponzu sauce dip with toasted sesame seeds and sliced green onions. Photo by Sakurai Midori | Wikimedia.
Incredibly versatile. Beyond using as a protein, you can substitute tofu for caloric and cholesterol-laden staples like sour cream, heavy cream, mayonnaise, cream cheese and ricotta (try a tofu tiramisu).
Not just for Asian cooking. It can fit into any cuisine. As a start, try Italian dishes with tofu instead of other proteins —tofu parm instead of chicken parm, for example.
Pudding without fat/cholesterol: Delicious tofu pudding substitutes for flan or panna cotta. Photo by Chris 73 | Wikimedia.
Preparing tofu is easy. Drain off all the water and wrap the block in paper towels to blot; then slice it according to the recipe.
There are different styles of tofu, and the recipes will specify the style of tofu you need.
Soft tofu is best used in dips, smoothies, desserts, and blended into lower-fat, cholesterol-free salad dressings. We love a mango smoothie blended with orange juice, honey, milk/soy milk and soft tofu; and a chocolate tofu mousse. Mash it with avocado or hummus for a snack or sandwich spread. Cut the tofu into small cubes for blending or mashing.
Medium Firm tofu works well in casseroles, soups and salads. Cube it as a protein-rich garnish for soups and see how good a tofu scramble is (you won’t miss conventional scrambled eggs in this recipe).
Firm and Extra Firm tofu are great meat substitutes and ideal for stir-frying, grilling, deep-frying, crumbled in chili, and much more. Marinate Extra Firm tofu in soy sauce and then chop it into blocks for conventional grilling or kebabs. Crumble Firm tofu and mix with ground turkey, onion and breadcrumbs for tasty meatballs. Create your own tofu burgers with mashed tofu, bread crumbs, chopped onion and seasonings.
There’s no need to buy a tofu recipe book; but if you want to learn to make your own at home, this book, Asian Tofu, is a great resource.
But you can start at HouseFoods.com, which has numerous recipes in every meal category.
BUY premium quality tofu. If you care about non-GMO foods, rely on a brand like House Foods, which uses only non-genetically modified soybeans grown in the USA and is Non-GMO Project verified.
STORE leftover tofu in a water-filled, airtight container in the fridge. It can keep for two to three days, but change the water every day or two.
FREEZE excess tofu in its original container or a freezer bag. To thaw, just leave it out on the counter for a few hours (don’t microwave it). Defrosted tofu’s texture becomes more spongy, great to soak up marinade sauces and great for the grill.