A ubiquitous element of the Asian diet, it made its mark in the West through vegetarian cuisine. It invites itself little by little into the recipes but is always discreet like a carp. We are far from the intensive use made of it by the Chinese who feast on it at all meals, including in the form of grilled tofu for breakfast.
What Is Tofu: Composition
We obtained from the coagulation of soy milk, this plant product, where the soybean is considered, along with rice, wheat, barley, and millet, as one of the five sacred seeds. An essential element of Mongolian cuisine two centuries BC, tofu was introduced to Japan in the 8th century by Buddhist monks. In America, then in Europe, “soya cheese” was known for a long time only to followers of the vegetarian diet before becoming a more widely consumed food.
It is a white and soft paste obtained from crushed soybeans.
This “soy cheese” is thus obtained by soaking soya beans in water for several hours before grinding them and cooking this mixture, then filtering it and adding a coagulant to this milk (which may be magnesium chloride – called nigari in Japan –, calcium sulfate, or more simply seawater), which will cause it to curdle. Passed through muslin, this curd is then placed in a mold with holes – traditionally made of wood – on which weights are placed, allowing the evacuation of water and the consistency of the tofu.
It can now be easily made at home from soy milk packaged in brick or powder form and small sachets of coagulant sold in Japanese or Chinese grocery stores. Give it the taste you want by marinating it in the condiment of your choice: grated fresh ginger, vinaigrette, pesto, mustard. To this version with a naturally neutral taste, one can prefer more “elaborate” tofu, such as smoked tofu, with herbs or five flavors, to be eaten cold or hot.
Choosing And Cooking Tofu
- I prefer it organic and fresh, tasty and low in condoms.
- Several brands manufacture it in France from soybeans grown on the territory.
- You will find tofu in the new section of Asian grocery stores or organic stores in the form of white blocks packaged in plastic trays filled with water.
- It comes in two primary forms, firm or silky.
- Once opened, it can be stored for seven days, covered with fresh water to be changed every day.
- Before use, wrap it in a tea towel or absorbent paper, place it between two plates with a weight, and let it drain for 2 hours.
- Then you can sauté it in a pan and put it in the oven or a steamer.
Strictly speaking, it does not cook, but it warms up and firms up under the effect of the heat. It can also, if you want, be eaten as it is, cold. It’s a matter of taste. Many of us have tasted it before in miso soups, sukiyaki, or shabu. But this candidate of choice for marinades is also delicious grilled, sautéed with noodles or fish, steamed seasoned with mint or dried shrimp, fried and covered with vegetables, or, why not, with garlic and chili.
It is also suitable for many more Western recipes (burger, quiche, lasagna, cakes, etc.). It is available in its countries of origin in unexpected forms such as dried, fermented, or “stinky” tofu or frozen in mountain monasteries. It was taking on the consistency of yarrow with the ice cream.
The Benefits Of Tofu
Very rich in protein, tofu is sometimes considered a “vegetable meat.” Devoid of cholesterol but containing unsaturated fatty acids, it is a beneficial food on the cardiovascular level. It is also rich in iron and Phyto-oestrogens. It would protect against certain cancers (notably of the prostate) and disorders linked to menopause. However, the minor problem is that only tofu from organic stores can be guaranteed to be based on GMO-free soy.
They draw a dose of excellent quality proteins from this food, which is less rich in fats than animal proteins. People monitoring their cholesterol levels have every interest in adopting it. While sensitive to this health argument, Westerners nevertheless struggle to tame tofu in culinary terms.
|100g tofu||14g||3g||8.7g||124 calories|
Firm Tofu And Silken Tofu
- There are two main types of tofu: firm and silken.
- Silken tofu has a creamy, yogurt-like consistency that is difficult to cut and cook.
- It is therefore eaten cold.
- Much appreciated by the Japanese, it lends itself to a simple seasoning of spring onions, soy sauce, and chopped ginger.
- It can also be sweet and an excellent breakfast item.
- Marketed in the form of a white block preserved in water, the firm can crumble and be reduced to a puree but is mainly used diced.
- Like the silky, it has a neutral taste.
- Gone, however, are the days when macrobiotic restaurants thought their nutritional qualities were self-sufficient.
- The taste neutrality of tofu turns out to be a blank page on which beautiful gourmet stories can be written.
- It is enough to observe the infinite variety with which Asian cooks treat this chameleon food.
Smoked, Fried, Marinated Tofu
It must be recognized that this white, soft, and somewhat gelatinous paste is puzzling.
To its uninviting appearance is added a disconcerting blandness. Its primary asset lies in its neutral taste, making it a real chameleon. Thanks to its porous texture, it absorbs like a sponge the flavor of the ingredients with which it is marinated or cooked. Cut into cubes and mixed with a pan-fried vegetable, a tagine, or a curry, it makes a delicious fondant. We prefer smoked tofu for an initiation, which is less moist than the basic.
Its consistency and taste are pretty similar to a cocktail sausage. It can easily replace bacon bits in a quiche or an omelet. It’s fried, crispy on the outside, and melting on the inside, which is a treat. Cut into cubes. It is a light addition to a salad. It can also be reduced to crumbs and combined with a vegetable mousse—another variation to discover: The silken tofu whose consistency ventures between flan and yogurt. It has a strong taste of soy and replaces fresh cream in desserts (tiramisu, creams, mousses, “tofu shakes”), making it light and creamy as desired. Firm, smoky or silky, it proves to be a perfect compromise between pleasure and balance. Either of these recipes will help you tame it.