Tofu, sometimes also called doufu (often in Chinese recipes) or bean curd (literal translation), is a food of Chinese origin, made by coagulating soy milk, and then pressing the resulting curds into blocks. The making of tofu from soy milk is similar to the technique of making cheese from milk. Wheat gluten, or seitan, in its steamed and fried forms, is often mistakenly called “tofu” in Asian or vegetarian dishes.
What is tofu? Tofu is a staple in Asia for 2,000 years, tofu is known for its extraordinary nutritional benefits, as well as its versatility. Tofu, also known as soya curd or bean curd, is a soft cheese-like food made by curdling soya milk with a coagulant. Tofu is a rather bland tasting product that easily absorbs the flavours of other ingredients. Tofu is sold in water-filled packs or in aseptic cartons. Fresh tofu is usually packaged in water and should be refrigerated and kept in water until used. If the water is drained and changed daily, the tofu should last for one week. Tofu can be frozen for up to three months. Freezing will change its texture however, it will make the tofu slightly chewier.
Varieties of tofu
- Firm tofu (and extra-firm tofu) – is dense and can be cubed and stir-fried, grilled, scrambled, pickled, smoked, baked, barbecued or served in soups. Firm tofu is higher in protein, fats and calcium than other types of tofu.
- Silken tofu – has a creamy structure and is also used in blended dishes. In Japan, silken tofu is consumed as such with some soy sauce.
- Soft tofu – is more suited for recipes in which tofu needs to be blended.
- Yuba - also called tofu skin, or bean stick, may be eaten fresh or dried. Yuba is often used to wrap dim sum (點心) or inarizushi (稲荷寿司).