If you opened up a container of tofu and just took a small taste you would be right in calling it unappetizing, mushy, bland and tasteless. BUT…when it is added to other ingredients, it magically transforms into something utterly amazing and healthy to boot!
When I serve my Chocolate Fudge Pie (shown above) at dinner parties, I never tell my guests that it is made with tofu until after they have finished licking their plates!
The key thing to remember is that tofu is tasteless until it absorbs the flavor of a sauce or seasonings or marinade (or even chocolate!). Best of all, you can eat it raw, which makes it a fantastic addition to salads or smoothies. Or it can be cooked, but even extra firm tofu doesn’t hold up well to long-term heat.
Technically tofu is “produced by curdling soy milk, then pressed to remove much of the liquid. Tofu, also know as soybean curd, is used as a protein source in meals. (Tofu can act as a substitute for meat or fish.) It is available in the refrigerated section of grocery stores or health food stores.”
Tofu has several levels of firmness, each one suitable for different uses. When buying tofu, the firmness is clearly marked on the package.
- Firm or Extra Firm: Good for stir-fry, soups and even grilling.
- Soft and Silken: Great for sauces, dressings, dips, whips and spreads. Silken in particular, can imitate pudding or custard, and is perfect for drinking—such as in a fruit shake or smoothie.
Tofu isn’t just a food chameleon; it’s also healthy for you.
- There’s no cholesterol
- It’s virtually fat free
- And it’s high in protein
- Tofu is perishable and should be used by the date stamped on the package.
- Tofu needs to be refrigerated.
- Open the package only right before using the tofu.
- Place leftovers back in the fridge, covered with water, for no more than 1 week.
- Change the water daily. Fresh water helps to keep the tofu moist, prevents drying out (which leads to spoilage), and prevents the tofu from absorbing the flavors and smells of surrounding foods in the fridge.
- If your tofu smells or tastes sour, it has gone off and you need to toss it out.
Beginner cooks should not feel nervous about experimenting with tofu. If you own a blender, making a smoothie with tofu is a great way to get started. Macheesmo has a great photo-tutorial on how to make a Tofu Breakfast Smoothie which looks like a great way to begin your day!
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