Tofu is known under various names, such as bean curd or soybean curd. It is essential for any vegan diet and it is very popular, as well. It is believed that tofu was made for the first time in China, more than two thousand years ago. Because of its nutritional value, it is considered a great alternative to meat. As the legend goes, it was one of the rulers of the Han dynasty, Liu An, who first discovered the great qualities of tofu.
Still, there are other theories regarding the first appearance of tofu in the Chinese cuisine, as some think it dates from the second century BC.
It is believed that tofu was discovered completely by accident when some boiled soy was thrown in sea water. The jelly substance that resulted was tofu.
Others say that the Chinese actually found about how to curdle soy milk taking after Mongolians who were curdling milk.
What is tofu, exactly?
Rich in protein, tofu has the great quality of having almost no calories. In the same time, it is a great source of iron. No animal protein can be found in it, since it is obtained from soy beans.
Selecting tofu after texture
When soy milk is gone through the coagulation process, certain enzymes are present, which is why tofu is such a prized ingredient for many sweet dishes. Different coagulation agents can be used, such as gypsum, calcium chloride, glucono delta-lactone, or papain. After going through the curdling process, the soy milk gets the jelly like texture is known for. However, you can obtain two different types of tofu: silken tofu and firm tofu.
The first maintains most of its moisture, because the coagulation process is carried in such a way that moisture is not eliminated. Firm tofu, on the other hand, is made by squeezing all the moisture from it. The traditional method involves placing the tofu between two wood blocks. The final color varies from white to light red, the coagulant playing an important role in this.
How does tofu taste like?
Tofu, per se, does not have a particular taste, and it can be said that it almost has no taste. However, when cooked with other foods, it manages to draw the flavor from other spices of veggies used in the recipe.
How is tofu good for your health?
- As it almost has no calories, tofu can be consumed by anyone. Also, being a healthy source of protein, it can replace meat and other protein sources in any diet.
- Only 2% of silken tofu to 5% of firm tofu represents fat. You can include tofu in your diet to regulate the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
- Tofu is rich in iron, calcium and omega 3 fatty acids.
Cooking with tofu
- Those who are lactose intolerant can greatly benefit from the inclusion of tofu in their diets.
- Any recipes that requires the use of salt or preservatives can use tofu as a replacement.
- You can make tasty soups, rolls and sandwiches with tofu.
- Salads can be made better tasting and more nutritious, if you just add some crumbled tofu to the mix.
- When you make your healthy protein shakes in the morning, add some tofu to your greens and berries for a great healthy result.
- Tofu slices with sauce make for great snacks.
- Tofu can be added to pastas, stir fry recipes and noodles.
- Burgers with tofu are a healthier alternative, especially when you want to eat less fat and find a good replacement for cheese.