Looking for delicious ingredients to incorporate in your vegan diet?
This is where tofu comes in! It’s an incredibly versatile food that you can cook in innumerable ways. You can make delicious tofu stir-fries, scrambled tofu, tofu lasagna, and tofu cheesecake.
When I discovered tofu and learned everything there is to know about it, it truly changed my life around. Now, I cook with it whenever I am craving a mouth-watering vegan meal. So, let me tell you everything you need to know about tofu.
Let’s start with the most basic question, “What is tofu?”
What Is Tofu?
Tofu is a food item that’s made with condensed soy milk and is sold in the shape of solid white blocks. Tofu originated in China over 2,000 years ago when a Chinese cook accidentally mixed a batch of soy milk with nigari. This unique food is also known as soybean curd or bean curd.
There are various varieties of tofu widely available such as extra-soft silken tofu and firm tofu. Each variety is used differently in cooking and adds its signature tofu texture to the dish. For instance, the silken type is ideal for desserts, while the extra-firm variety is ideal for sautéing or stir-frying until deliciously crispy.
Thanks to its incredible versatility and nutritional value, tofu has been a staple in Asian cuisines for countless decades now. However, it has recently gained a lot of popularity in Western vegan cooking as well.
This is because it’s an affordable food item that goes perfectly with vegan diets. You can also make tofu from scratch, however, it’s a time-consuming process.
What Does Tofu Taste Like?
On its own, tofu doesn’t have much of a taste; it tastes pretty bland. However, the best thing about tofu is that it readily takes on the flavor of anything that you cook it with such as seasoning, sauces, veggies, condiments, etc. It also adds a unique tofu texture and lots of nutrition to the dish.
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What Is Tofu Made of?
Tofu is essentially made of soybeans that are ground in water and then coagulated with a coagulant or curdling agent known as nigari. Nigari is the leftover liquid from extracting salt from seawater and is rich in minerals such as magnesium salt and calcium.
It is what helps give tofu its iconic shape. The soybean curds are then condensed and pressed into a block, which is then packaged as tofu.
How to Cook With Tofu
There are numerous ways in which you can cook with tofu. You can grill, bake, steam, pan-cook, and even fry it. Just make sure to use a dish towel to press the excess liquid out of the tofu. This will enhance its texture.
The best part about cooking with tofu is that it absorbs the flavors of whatever marinade, sauce, or spice you cook it with.
As mentioned above, firmer varieties of tofu are ideal for stir-frying and grilling as the firm nature of tofu allows it to retain its shape. You can also use tofu as a meat substitute and make tofu sausages or burgers. Moreover, you can make a delectable tofu lasagna.
You can use the softer varieties in soups and casseroles. As for the softest variety of tofu, namely silken tofu, you can make vegan desserts such as puddings and cheesecakes with it and can also blend it into smoothies and dips.
How Long Does Tofu Last?
In the fridge, open tofu can last up to 3 days, given that it’s stored correctly. As for unopened tofu, you can keep it in your fridge for about 5 days. As for unrefrigerated tofu, if you make sure to change the water every day, then it can also last for about 5 days.
In the freezer, the firmer variety of tofu can last up to months.
Can You Freeze Tofu?
Yes, you can absolutely freeze the firm varieties of tofu in your freezer for about 3 months. With that said, the stored tofu might change its hue and turn yellowish. Make sure to throw away the discolored and smelly tofu right away.
How to Store Tofu
When it comes to storing uncooked tofu, make sure to keep it in its original packaging until you’re ready to use it. If you bought it from the refrigerated section, then keep it in your fridge. If you bought the shelf-stable packaged tofu, then you can store it in your pantry.
If you have leftover, unused tofu, then make sure to put the tofu immersed in water in an airtight container in your fridge. If you change its water daily, you can prolong its freshness.
When it comes to freezing tofu, firm tofu works best. For optimal results, cut the tofu into tiny cubes ideal for cooking. Flash freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet for a few hours or until they are frozen. Then, transfer the frozen cubes into a heavy-duty freezer bag or an airtight container.
Make sure to defrost it in your fridge before using it in a recipe.
Make sure to discard tofu that appears discolored or smells bad right away.
The Bottom Line
I hope you enjoyed reading this guide on “What Is Tofu?” and learned about this versatile food item. Now that you know how to cook with tofu, try out various recipes. However, make sure to devour tofu before it goes bad in the fridge or freezer.