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Tofu

tofu

Tofu is delicious and a great source of protein.

Tofu is one of my favourite foods. Documentation of tofu production first appeared during the Chinese Han dynasty, about 2000 years ago. Eventually, tofu spread to Korea, Japan, Vietnam and other parts of Southeast Asia. Buddhists favour tofu because it is plant-based protein, and tofu likely was disseminated by vegetarian Buddhists throughout Southeast Asia. A very versatile food, tofu has the ability to absorb the flavours of whatever it is cooked with. It can be cooked many ways, such as steamed, fried, baked, barbecued, and stir-fried. I really love smoked tofu and can eat that right out of the package.

How Tofu is Made

To produce tofu, soy beans are soaked and pressed. The resulting soy milk is isolated, and then coagulated with a coagulant such as magnesium chloride, magnesium sulfate, or calcium sulfate. Once the tofu curdles, it is pressed into blocks. Tofu is pasteurized, as it extends shelf life.

So Many Different Types of Tofu!

When you stroll into the aisle carrying the tofu, you will usually find many kinds. There is tofu that is silken, soft, medium-firm, firm, and extra-firm. In addition, you may find smoked tofu (which is usually very firm), pressed tofu, and fried-tofu. If you like a pre-flavoured tofu, there are some that are pre-marinaded, smoked, herbed, or pre-spiced. Which tofu should you pick? It depends on your cooking needs. The firmer the tofu, the less water is present in it, which means more protein! However, a firmer tofu will need more time for it to absorb flavours.

Silken Tofu Has a Custard Texture

Silken tofu has the most water content, and it can itself come in soft, firm, and extra firm . Use silken tofu for puddings, dips, sauces, and smoothies. It can simulate eggs in some recipes. I wouldn’t get the silken tofu in the small tetra-pak boxes, which don’t need to be refrigerated. Those can keep a while, but they won’t taste as good as the fresher silken tofu. Do the taste test yourself to see. You can take boxed silken tofu with you when you go camping though because it doesn’t require refrigeration and they are portable.

Soft Tofu 

This tofu also has a high water content. Though is less smooth than silken tofu, it can be used as such. In the summer, I love cold soft tofu sweetened with dates. For a blast of protein, you can blend soft tofu right into smoothies.

Medium-Firm Tofu

You can pan-fry medium firm tofu, but a lot of water will still come out of it. Medium-firm is best for soups (such as miso soup).

Firm Tofu

This can be pan or stir-fried, or crumbled as a tofu scramble. It will take to seasoning and flavours well. However, don’t go too crazy with it or it will fall apart.

Extra-Firm Tofu

Now this one you can use for pan-frying, stir-frying, or even deep-frying. You can bake it or grill it. Keep in mind though, that because there is less water content, it wouldn’t be as easy for it to absorb flavours. Pressed tofu is usually either firm tofu or extra-firm tofu that has been pre-pressed so that it contains even less moisture. If you want to press tofu yourself, you can-simply wrap your slab of tofu with a few paper towels, and then wrap that with a cloth towel. Place this onto a plate. Now get something that weighs about 2 pounds to put on top, such as a large skillet, or two or three cans. Wait for an hour or more for a more concentrated tofu (less water). Now you have an even firmer tofu to work with.

Green Cuisine Tofu 

tofu

Have you tried this?

Made from Canadian organic, non-GMO soybeans, this tofu is made by stone-grinding soybeans, and then cooking them in open kettles. Green Cuisine tofu comes in medium and extra-firm, and taste delicate and creamy.

What if you Don’t Use All the Tofu Right Away?

You can store the tofu in water. Just place your remaining tofu in fresh, cold water, cover, and place in the refrigerator. Change the water daily. Keep for 3-5 days. Alternatively, you can freeze the remainders for up to 3 months in a freezer container/bag. Please note that tofu that has been frozen will become spongier.

Tempeh

Tempeh

There is a little inexpensive cookbook entitled “Green Cuisine’s Great Little Tempeh Cookbook” at the restaurant counter, written by Green Cuisine’s owner, Andy. I’ve looked through it, and it is very inspiring. I realized, however, that I really didn’t know much about tempeh at all. What exactly is tempeh, and where does it come from anyway? I thought I’d share what I’ve learned with you here. I’ve also included a delectable recipe.

Tempeh_tempe

Stacks of tempeh in Indonesia, wrapped in banana leaves

Tempeh-What is This Stuff?

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I’m about to start cooking some tempeh. Join me!

Tempeh is a traditional food hailing from Indonesia, where it is a staple in the Indonesian diet. There you can find large cakes of tempeh at the market, wrapped in banana leaves. How is this mysterious cake of soybeans made? Initially, soybeans are cracked, de-hulled, and washed. The beans are then soaked and boiled. When they are soft, the beans are dried. Simple enough. And here comes the interesting part: a culture of Rhizopus oligosporous, a mould, is introduced to the beans, which are then bagged and sealed to allow for fermentation to take place. In Indonesia, tempeh can be left to ferment at room temperature, but in Canada, we use commercial incubators to allow for optimal temperature and humidity conditions. During fermentation, the Rhizopus mould forms a tangly mass of white mycelia, which enables the soybeans to pack together into a cake form. This process produces enzymes that break down the soybeans, causing the product to be more digestible. For instance, the oligosaccharides in the beans that can cause bloating and indigestion are decreased upon fermentation. The result is a flavourful, firmly textured, digestible cake of soybeans that is very high in protein. 

 High in Nutrition. And it Tastes Good

Yes, tempeh is very high in protein. A gift to vegetarians and vegans. Compared to a 100 grams serving of grilled steak, which contains 25 grams of protein, a 100 grams serving of tempeh has 19 grams of protein. Tempeh also is a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, riboflavin, phosphorus, copper, and manganese. Some people prefer tempeh over tofu and vegan imitation-meat products, as tempeh is a less processed food because it is a whole soybean product. The tempeh made by Green Cuisine is derived from organic soybeans grown on Canadian family farms, and all the tempeh is pre-cooked, which makes it easier to work with.

There are Different Kinds of Tempeh

I’ll admit that before I started messing around in the kitchen with the Green Cuisine brand soybean tempeh that I found in local grocery stores, I’ve never cooked tempeh before. I really like the way it is served at Green Cuisine. In Indonesia, it is common to pan fry or even deep fry tempeh and serve it with sauce. You don’t even have to stop at soybean tempeh. Tempeh can also be made from seeds such as sunflower seeds (sunflower seed tempeh is available at Green Cuisine’s products section), flaxseeds, sesame seeds, and grains such as barley, millet, and rice. There is a Green Cuisine seven-grain tempeh variety that you can try. Other beans such as black beans or chickpeas can also yield tempeh. If you really want to, you can even produce your own tempeh. You can go here to learn how to do that.

Here is a recipe from the “Great Little Tempeh Cookbook”. Have fun cooking and enjoy your tempeh!

Recipe

Chili Lime Tempeh

1 package Simply Soybean Tempeh

1/2 cup water

4 tablespoons sunflower oil

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon crushed chilies

1/4 teaspoon paprika

2 cloves garlic (crushed)

4 tablespoons lime juice

Cut tempeh into 8 squares. Mix everything else together and pour over tempeh. Let sit for 2-4 hours. Place tempeh and marinade in a pan and cook covered for 5 minutes. Turn tempeh over and cook on other side until liquid is absorbed. Excellent served in a wrap with some crispy salad veggies.