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Tofu or Beancurd, History, Uses and Recipes

Updated on April 19, 2020

Definition and History

There are different ways to name one same product well known in the west as Tofu ( this is actually the japanese name). The english term is Beancurd and has been used since 1840. But was is Tofu or Beancurd? Well, very simple: Tofu is a food made of fermented soy milk. The process is similar to making cheese: soy milk (made from soybeans) is filtered, bolied and curled, then pressed to form tofu.

This is one of China major contributions to the World. The soybean is a plant that has been cultivated in China for thousands of years and a lot of soybean products are important elements on chinese diet. There are different theories about how Tofu was originated: The first theory says that tofu was invented in northern China by a prince member of the Han Dynasty around the year 164 BC. The second one says it was accidentally discovered when boiled ground soybeans was mixed with impure salt; this produced a Tofu-like gel. The last theory says that the ancient chinese learned the curd process fron mongolians or east indians.

Tofu and the production technique was then introduced into Korea and then to Japan during the Nara period around the 8 century. It was also spread to other parts of East Asia, this coincided with the spread of Buddishm and it is an important element in the vegetarian diet of East Asian Buddishm.

Nutrition and Health

 Tofu is highly nutritious and low in fat and sugar, it is much healthier than meat, fish and less expensive too!!!  As a vegetable protein, It contains eight essencial aminoacids, vitamins A and B.  Is free from cholesterol and is recomended for people with heart disease or high blood pressure.  Tofu is also very easy to digest, so is ideal for infants, sick and elderly people .

Here I got the nutrition  facts for raw tofu (100gr; 3.5 oz):

Energy                  318 kj (76 kcal)

Carbohidrates       1.9 gr

Fat                         4.8 gr

Protein                    8.1 gr

 

Types of Tofu

 These are basic types of tofu  (not all of them are available here in the West):

Soft or Silken Tofu: It has a delicate texture, is creamy and white. It is mainly steamed or added to soups.  Is also used to make desserts or even ice cream.

Firm Tofu: Is the most common type of tofu and very popular for everyday use.  Is also white and soft but more robust than silken tofu. 

Deep Fried Tofu:  Fresh firm tofu cut into cubes then deep fried until light brown.  It puffs during cooking and has a crispy golden skin, but underneath stays white and soft.  It is used as fresh tofu in soups, casseroles and stir fries. 

Pressed Tofu: Is fresh tofu that has been compressed until almost all the liquids are gone.  Then is usually marinated in soy sauce an some spices giving it a brown color in the outside but still white in the inside.  It is usually cut into slices and stir fried.

Because tofu is so soft, is important to cook it with strong flavors such as garlic, ginger, chiles, soy sauce.  All the types of tofu listed above absorb the flavors of the other ingredientsthey are cooked with .

 

 

 

 

A few recipes

Yudofu, Japanese Tofu Hot Pot

Ingredients:

  • 2 blocks cotton tofu
  • 6 inches konbu (kelp)

For dipping sauce:

  • 2 cups dashi soup (a soup made with bonito flakes)
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp mirin

For toppings:

  • katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
  • chopped scallions or green onion
  • grated ginger

Preparation:

Clean the konbu with wet towel. Put the konbu and 5 cups of water in a donabe (earthenware pot) and leave it for a few hours. Cut tofu into small blocks. Put the donabe over low heat at the table. Add tofu in the pot and cook until hot. Combine the dashi soup, soy sauce, and mirin in a sauce pan and heat to make a dipping sauce. Pour the dipping sauce into individual serving bowls. Add some topping in the bowl and dip hot tofu in the sauce.
*Makes 4 servings

Spicy Tofu Stir Fry This spicy stir-fry is made with pressed tofu, chili sauce, and nuts. If pressed tofu isn't available, feel free to substitute extra firm tofu.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 package (300 grams) Superior Pressed Tofu*
  • 3 cups vegetables (carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms, etc.)
  • 1/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts or cashew nuts
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon hot and spicy chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons of cold water

Preparation:

Cube tofu and vegetables into 1/4" cubes. Heat oil in wok. Stir fry vegetables for 2 minutes or until half cooked. Add tofu, and stir fry for another 1 minute until heated through. Add sauce and cook until sauce has thickens. Add more water if necessary. Toss in peanuts and serve. Makes 4 servings.

 

Comments

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    • MarieAlice profile imageAUTHOR

      Maria Alicia Cardenas 

      9 years ago from Spain

      Thank you Teaches12345...... Tofu is a very healthy product we must learn to eat and cook .... I´m glad you liked this hub!!! Thanks for your comment!!!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      9 years ago

      I do love Tofu and try to make it with different food items. It is something I have learned to love over the past few years. Your suggestions are ones that I will try and enjoy.

    • kgala0405 profile image

      Kevin Galarneau 

      9 years ago from Michigan

      I haven't cooked with tofu before, but it is one on those ingredients that I want to play around with. In the past I think I have enjoyed tofu more when it is fried. Thanks for sharing the info and recipe.

    • MarieAlice profile imageAUTHOR

      Maria Alicia Cardenas 

      9 years ago from Spain

      Thank you all for your comments, Tofu is not only healthy and nutricious, but is a great alternative for those who prefer not eating meat.... Is so versatile to cook and delicious...

    • ladeda profile image

      ladeda 

      9 years ago

      I've always liked tofu, I'm just never quite sure what to do with it when I'm in my own kitchen. I'm definitely going to try one of these recipes. Thank you!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      9 years ago from California

      I love tofu actually--I grew up eating quite a bit of tofu and find that it really is an inexpensive budget item---Thank you for providing history---it was quite interesting!

    • Peanutritious profile image

      Tara Carbery 

      9 years ago from Cheshire, UK

      Thanks for this info. I love Tofu but seem to cook with Quorn more as Tofu is slightly more expensive. Tofu is so good for you though, I used to buy big chunks of it from the markets in Bangkok.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      9 years ago from Daytona Beach, Florida

      Thanks for this very informative and useful hub. I like tofu but didn't know much about it. Glad you shared this and the recipe. Passing this on.

    • Daisy Mariposa profile image

      Daisy Mariposa 

      9 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      Malicia (MarieAlice),

      Thanks for publishing this very interesting article. I've eaten food in restaurants containing tofu, and I've cooked with it, but I didn't know its history.

    • MarieAlice profile imageAUTHOR

      Maria Alicia Cardenas 

      10 years ago from Spain

      Hello Jasmine: In fact I thought there was only one type of tofu but while searching for some recipes i was surprised to find out there where more and that´s why i decided to search for some information about this great product

      Dear Sirena: I have plenty of recipes but I share these because I found them very easy to cook....

    • profile image

      Sirenita 

      10 years ago

      Thank you Marie Alice for this article I'm going to try those recipies.

    • profile image

      jasmine 

      10 years ago

      I like the information about tofu types, didn´t know there was more than one

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