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Tofu or bean curd is made from soy beans. The soy beans are turned into soy milk and curdled with a substance called coagulants. Coagulants make the texture of the mixture gelatinous.
Cooking with tofu first made it way in Asia: it has been adopted by other countries since then. The main reason why tofu became popular is its high protein content. This has made it a good substitute for meat. Vegetarians embrace tofu by having it in their regular diet. Whenever a recipe calls for meat, tofu is used as a replacement.
There are three main types of tofu: firm tofu, soft tofu, and silken tofu. They are categorized based on their texture.
Firm tofu includes firm, medium firm, and extra firm. These are uncooked tofus that are usually used in dishes that call for meat. This type of tofu is sold in blocks with water. It needs to be drained and pressed with a paper towel before cooking. Some popular dishes that use firm tofu are: tokwa’t baboy, lumpiang sariwa, hot and sour soup, and pork and tofu in oyster sauce.
Soft tofu has a softer and more jelly-like texture. It is a good substitute in dishes that use eggs. It can also be mixed with other ingredients such as sour cream and cream cheese when making dips and sauces.
Silken tofu is very soft. It is already precooked. This type of tofu is the best choice in making soups; it is also a good substitute for milk and heavy whipping cream. I eat silken tofu for breakfast. Our home-made taho recipe calls for silken tofu.
Aside from the recipes that I mentioned, here are more ways to cook tofu:
1. Sauté it with vegetables
Sliced tofu is great for sautéing. You can either sauté it with vegetables or plainly sauté it in any oil that you want, without adding anything.
2. Bake the tofu
Baked tofu is perfect if you want to cut on fat. You can easily do this by slicing the tofu and place it in a baking tray greased with olive oil. Try preheating the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake it until the color turns golden brown.
3. Make an omelet out of it
If you are trying to cut on eggs, try replacing half of the eggs that you should be using with soft tofu. For example: instead of using 4 pieces of egg for an omelet, use only 2 eggs and replace the others with tofu.
4. Deep fry it until the texture becomes crisp
The most common method of cooking tofu in the Philippines is frying. Blocks of tofu are deep fried until the texture becomes crunchy. It is eaten as it is after dipping it in vinegar or Asian Dipping Sauce.
5. Make tofu as an extender for your chili
If you are hosting game day in your place, you can save on ground meat by adding frozen extra firm tofu to your chili recipe. All you need to do is thaw the frozen tofu, crumble it, and add it to your chili.
6. Add tofu to your custard dessert
Tofu can be used in making desserts. Take Leche Flan as an example. You can use soft silken tofu to replace the milk that the recipe requires. Substitute half of the required milk with soft silken tofu.
7. Add tofu to your soup
Being a good substitute for meat, tofu can be used for your soup dish. Add small cubes of medium firm tofu to your soup, and simmer it just the way you do with meat. You can also use soft tofu for your soup. By doing this, you’ll get the protein that you need less the cholesterol and fat.
8. Stir-fry your tofu
Stir-fried tofu can taste good depending on how you do it. If you want to stir-fry tofu without any other ingredients (such as vegetables and meat), try adding some stir-fry sauce to give the tofu some taste. You can also stir-fry tofu along with your favorite stir-fry vegetable and meat dishes.
9. Turn it into a cold beverage
Believe it or not, you can make milk shakes with tofu. You can replace 1/4 of your milk ingredient with soft silken tofu. You can also add tofu when making smoothies.
10. Spice it up, and then broil
Tofu makes a good finger food. One way of doing this is by rubbing your favorite spices around cubed extra firm tofu, and then broil. You can serve each piece with fancy toothpicks to make it more attractive.
11. Marinate it, and then steam
Steaming is a good way to produce soft and flavorful dishes. Similar to the way Siopao and Siomai are cooked, you should try steaming firm tofu. To add some flavor, try marinating it first in sesame oil and light soy sauce.