The Mystery of Tofu

Updated: Feb 4

Tofu, also known as bean curd, is a food item that dates from more than 2,000 years. Its origins are believed to be in the Han dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE) and is also an important source of protein in cuisines from China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Nowadays tofu appears as a common item in Western menus, but what is it and how is it made is a mystery we attempt to reveal today.

What is Tofu?

Tofu is condensed soy milk that is pressed into solid white blocks in a process similar to the one used to make cheese. This process has many steps:

  1. Dried soybeans are soaked in water, then crushed and boiled.

  2. Once boiled, the mixture is separated into a solid pulp called okara, and soy milk.

  3. Salt coagulants like calcium and magnesium are added to the soy milk to separate the curds from the whey.

  4. The soy milk is poured into molds to let the carbohydrate-laden whey drain off, which results in soft thick cakes.

  5. These soft cakes are cut into squares and stored in water until their consumption.

Types of Tofu

Depending on the method of production, tofu can be made extra soft, soft (silken), firm, extra firm and dried -which doesn't need refrigeration.

Thanks to its spongy absorbing texture, tofu can have a wide variety of flavours: it can be subtle, which is ideal for sweets; it can be seasoned or marinated to suit a specific dish, such as with ginger or onion, or seasoned with spices. It can also be prepared grilled, deep-fried, simmered, stir-fried, steamed, or eaten fresh and may be served with toppings such as tapioca or sweet syrups.

Is Tofu Healthy?

Yes! Tofu is a great source of protein and is high in calcium, potassium and iron. A serving of tofu contains all the essential amino acids your body needs and also provides fats, carbs, and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals.

According to FoodData Central, one 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of firm, calcium-set tofu offers:

  • Calories: 144

  • Protein: 17 grams

  • Carbs: 3 grams

  • Fibre: 2 grams

  • Fat: 9 grams

  • Calcium: 53% of the Daily Value (DV)

  • Manganese: 51% of the DV

  • Copper: 42% of the DV

  • Selenium: 32% of the DV

  • Vitamin A: 18% of the DV

  • Phosphorus: 15% of the DV

  • Iron: 15% of the DV

  • Magnesium: 14% of the DV

  • Zinc: 14% of the DV

Besides all these good properties tofu is relatively low in calories, which turns it into a nutrient-dense food. However, its nutrient content will vary depending on the type of coagulant used to make it. For instance, nigari-set tofu contains slightly more fat and potassium but less protein, fibre and calcium than calcium-set tofu.

Ways of Eating Tofu

There are many ways of eating tofu, and here we mention some of the dishes in which we use it:

  • Soups: Miso soup

  • Deep-fried: Crispy Tofu, Deep Fried Tofu in Spicy Garlic Sauce, Deep Fried Tofu with Spiced Salt and Pepper, and Deep Fried Aged Tofu

  • Sushi: Bean Curd Sushi

  • Wok: Szechuan Tofu, Sweet and Sour Tofu, and Mapo Tofu with Minced Beef

  • En casserole: Yu-Shiang Braised Tofu with Eggplant en Casserole; Stir-Fried Tofu, Shiitake Mushroom and Assorted Vegetable en Casserole

  • Dim Sum: Steamed Tofu Skin Roll with Shiitake Mushrooms & Enoki Mushrooms, Deep-Fried Tofu Skin Roll with Assorted Mushrooms; and Chicken, Shrimp & Shiitake Mushroom wrapped in Tofu Skin Roll

Tofu makes a great addition to a well-rounded diet and its versatility is ideal to include in many dishes ranging from stir-fries, smoothies, soups, sauces, to even desserts.

Are you ready to try it?

"I love tofu, it's just a curd to me"

#windgroup #tofu #beancurd #foodhistory #machinesecuisine #eastizakaya #windjapaneseandthai #asiancuisine

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