Incredible Edible Tofu
Tofu is a processed food made from soybeans just like butter is made from milk. Tofu was created by accident more than 2000 years ago in China. Due to its nutritious value, jell-o like soft texture, and tasteless flavor, with proper seasonings and/or mixing with other ingredients, a wide variety of tasty dishes can be made. It is then no wonder that after more than 2000 years, Tofu remains a popular and essential staple in every Chinese family. In addition to its rich protein content, it also has calcium and iron vital for the growth of the young and the body maintenance of the old. For the adult, Tofu is non-fat and has the property of lowering the body’s bad cholesterol level. In today’s health conscious public, Tofu is being accepted by people around the world.
Soybean was cultivated and grown as a source of food in China some 5000 years ago much like rice, wheat, barley, and millet. To facilitate the consumption of the nutrition rich but small and hard bean, it is mixed with water and grinded into soy milk. Then, about 2000 years ago, in an experimentation to create a new Chinese herb medicine, a small amount of Gypsum solution was added to the soy milk and stirred. The soy milk started to turn into clumps of jell-o, thus, born the bean curb or Tofu. Its discovery was more useful than any Chinese herb medicine, as the easily made, affordable, and popular Tofu provides the vital chemicals and nourishments for the well beings of the whole Chinese population. Rice after mixing with water and boiled turns into an indispensible food item on the dinner table. Wheat after grinding into powder can be made into noodle or bread. Millet is small in size and hard is usually consumed as porridge or used as feeds for the cattle and pigs. Barley is made into liquor or porridge or as feeds for the cattle and pigs. Because of Tofu, soybean will also be regarded as one of the 5 most essential crops in the Chinese civilization.
Tofu can be consumed in more ways than one can keep track of. In old times, Tofu was made in the early morning and must be sold and prepared into a dish due to its perishable nature. Today, Tofu is mostly made by machine, vacuum-packed and refrigerated, so it can be stored for a long time.
1) Raw – It can be eaten without cooking. Since it is tasteless, seasonings are normally added or it can be dices or sliced and mixed with regular salad. Once it is in the mouth, almost no chewing is required as it seemingly dissolves all by itself.
2) Cooked – It is normally boiled or stewed with gravy together with pork, beef, fish, and/or vegetables. With the addition of Tofu, the dish takes on a more enticing look (meat in brown, vegetables in green, and Tofu in white colors) and a unique contrasting feel to the taste (the chewy meat, the crispy vegetables, and the slippery soft Tofu).
Fried – When it is deep fried in oil, the exterior will become brown and crisp with the inside remaining white and soft. Unlike the soft Tofu that breaks easy, the fried version can withstand the rigor of tossing and stirring to create a cuisine with less gravy but more flavor and aroma.
For people who do not eat meat, Tofu offers a good source of protein. Since it mixes well with vegetables and noodle, a good selection of enticing dishes can be developed. With Tofu and its fried version, the vegetarians can be creative and come up with unique and tasty dishes every day without repetition for a long time. The daily 3 meals – breakfast, lunch, and dinner – are not only essential for the health but also offer one of life’s great enjoyments. Tremendous amount of times are spent to satisfy people’s taste buds and the anticipation of a good meal gives people the incentive to work through the long hours. Over 3000 years of developments and refinements, today, Chinese food has no equal in the world in terms of variety, complexity, taste, and aroma. Tofu’s role in it cannot be ignored. To the meat eater, Tofu is taken in to dilute the greasy meat. To the vegetarian, Tofu is favored with its meat like nutrition.