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.
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.
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).
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.
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
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.