Tofu Recipes for Newbies
Tofu has little flavor itself but readily absorbs the flavors of seasoning and marinades. As a result there are thousands of tofu recipes ranging from tofu salads and stir-frys through to tofu curry and even smoked tofu. Tofu originated from China, so there are many Chinese tofu recipes. Tofu is a low calorie, high protein food and an excellent substitute for meat.
What is Tofu?
The process to produce tofu begins with soybeans. Soybeans are a high protein legume that is grown worldwide. The USA is the single largest producer. Soybeans yield more protein per acre than almost any other food. The next step is to turn the soybeans into soya milk by wet grinding the soybeans. Finally the soy milk is coagulated to produce tofu.
Tofu Calories and Nutrition.
Tofu is low in calories at 70 calories per 100 grams. This compares favorably to all meats, for example roast chicken has 165 calories per 100 grams. Tofu is low in cholesterol and fat but high in iron and protein. It is widely accepted as an excellent meat substitute for vegetarians and vegans. The low calories and fat of vegetarian meat substitutes help explain vegetarian weight loss.
There are two main types of tofu; silken and regular. Silken tofu breaks down easily and is used in desserts such as cakes and biscuits. Because silken tofu breaks down it is not suitable as a meat substitute in stir fry recipes.
Regular tofu is the most commonly used type of tofu, especially in stir-fry recipes. Firm or extra firm regular tofu can be handled and stirred and it will retain its shape.
It is possible to be a vegetarian without using meat substitutes such as tofu. However in addition to the protein and other nutritional benefits of tofu meals they can make a welcome change when you are tired of vegetable soup recipes.
Tofu readily absorbs flavors through the marinating process. It's important to carefully prepare tofu to make it dry and ready for marination. First, squeeze out excess moisture by squeezing your tofu between absorbent cloths. You need to squeeze hard enough to release the moisture but not so hard that you make the tofu start to crumble.
The tofu can then be dry fried, there is no need to add oil, the tofu will have retained more than enough moisture to be fried. Cut your tofu into half-inch wedges and slow fry on a low-medium heat until golden brown on both side. As you fry use a spatula to gently release moisture.
Your tofu is now ready for marinating and stir- frying. Here is a simple yet tasty and healthy marinade:-
To Marinate Four Servings of Tofu
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed garlic
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
Marinate your tofu wedges for at least 45 minutes before you stir-fry.
You can use the above method of marination to prepare hundreds of different stir-fry recipes. Any stir-fry chicken recipe can be adapted by just substituting tofu for chicken. I like to add color with cherry tomatoes and peppers and texture with beansprouts. Just go where your taste buds lead you.
Chinese Tofu Recipe
This is a recipe for Crispy Sweet and Sour Tofu
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon rice vinegar
- Salt to taste
- 1 slab of tofu (about 400 grams)
- 1 tomato
- 1/2 teaspoon onion chopped
- 1/2 slice pineapple
- 1/4 green pepper
- Cornstarch (to coat tofu)
- Drain the tofu (see Tofu Marinade above) and chop into small bite sized chunks.
- Chop the pepper, pineapple and tomato.
- Coat tofu with cornstarch. Deep fry until golden brown. The oil must be very hot.
- Mix vinegar and sugar. Make a sauce by mixing all the ingredients (apart from the tofu).
- Combine the sizzling deep fried tofu with sauce and serve.
Tempeh is also made from soybeans but through a different process. Some people prefer that taste and texture of tempeh to tofu. Seitan is different from tofu and tempeh in that it is made from the protein part of wheat but it is also used as a meat substitute.