Should tofu be a part of your healthy diet?
Here is a question - what looks like feta and has most meat-lovers legging it to another aisle in the supermarket?
Yet carnivores need not switch off. Tofu may be a fan-favourite meat alternative for vegetarians and vegans, but it can be used to add texture, flavour and health benefits for all diets.
What is tofu?
Tofu, or bean curd, is made by curdling fresh soya milk and then forming it into a solid block.
Its texture varies from smooth to crunchy based on the method of cooking. Tofu can be baked, grilled, blended, sautéed, fried, scrambled, and marinated. Versatility at its best! But more on that later… Let’s first look at some of the health benefits of tofu.
Health benefits tofu can provide
Tofu has been a popular ingredient in Chinese and Thai cuisine for aeons, yet it was interest in healthy eating that brought tofu to the Western nations in the 1960s.
Tofu is a good source of plant-based protein and contains all nine essential amino acids. For vegetarians and vegans, it is also a valuable source of iron, calcium and minerals such as manganese and phosphorous. Tofu also contains copper, zinc, magnesium and vitamin B.
What’s more, tofu is low in cholesterol and fat, making it an excellent choice for those watching their waistlines. It is even said regular use of tofu reduces bad cholesterol levels.
What’s not to like, right? Except if you don’t know what to do with it.
How to cook tofu
Tofu is actually very simple to cook. It may be bland in taste, but that combined with its consistency gives it its undenied strength: its ability to work with nearly all types of foods and flavours.
When baking, grilling or frying tofu, gently squeeze out the excess water before you start cooking. If you don’t press the water out, it will be harder to work in the desired flavours. Out with the old water, in with the new flavour!
Think of tofu as a blank canvas. Season well and tofu will soak up the spice! Firm tofu works best with marinating. As a tip, however, avoid using oil when marinading – this will make it hard for the flavours to absorb.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to the method of cooking.
Here are some of Camseng’s helpful tips:
- Stir-frying is great if you’re pushed for time and it gives a crisp finish with a chewy centre.
- Baking gives tofu a soft, creamy middle and baked tofu can be used from salads to noodle dishes. Tofu is often cooked in this way when replacing dairy in recipes.
- If boiling tofu for soups, bear in mind the outside edges become tougher the longer you boil.
- Puree in a blender for sauces, dips, desserts and more!
P.S. If the thought of cooking tofu is still a scary prospect, tofu can be eaten uncooked too!
Regardless of your cooking method, the ultimate key to success with every dish is to select the right type of tofu
Types of Tofu – Choose the Right Texture with Camseng
Firm and extra-firm tofu is best for baking, grilling, and used in stir-fries and main dishes in general. It has less water content, and it is denser in texture.
Silken tofu (where the soy milk is coagulated without curdling the milk) requires a delicate hand and it is best used in dressings, soups or as a yoghurt alternative. Perfect for slicing it into miso soup.
Experiment with Tofu!
If you’ve shunned tofu in the past, give it a second chance! Whether you add it to salads or replace meat with tofu, this versatile, low-calorie ingredient could soon become a staple in your shopping basket.
To get you started, try this super simple, traditional Japanese tofu recipe with ingredients available from Camseng!
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon white sugar
½ teaspoon dashi
½ teaspoon water
¼ (12 ounces) package silken tofu
1 ½ teaspoons grated fresh ginger
¼ teaspoons thinly sliced green onion
1 pinch bonito dry fish flakes
1 pinch toasted sesame seeds
Mix the soy sauce, sugar, dashi and water in a small bowl until sugar dissolves.
Place the tofu (no need to press/drain the silken tofu) on a small plate and top with ginger, green onion and bonito shavings.
Drizzle the soy sauce mixture on top and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Serve with rice, miso soup or grilled fish.