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Most people assume the the benefits of tofu are overruled by the fact that tofu tastes bad. It has a really bad reputation, but I'm here to tell you that it can taste like absolutely anything you want to eat.
For instance, want a delicious vegan chocolate mousse? Turn to silken tofu. Really craving scrambled eggs? Whip up some scrambled tofu and top it with black salt that has the same sulfur flavor of eggs. Dying for wings? Marinate blocks of tofu in your favorite marinade and it will take on the flavor of your favorite wings.
One of the best benefits of tofu is its absolute versatility.
But, it still can't escape that silly reputation. Many think of it as the health food of health foods. Some think it's girly, or silly, or just gross tasting. Some just hate its texture (ask my mom.) Others just won't eat it on principle (again, ask my mom.)
I have also found places that make fresh tofu; where it comes out smooth and warm. It has a great, authentic beany flavor to it. Eventually I will conquer the soybean world and learn to make my own.
You can really turn tofu into just about anything you want.
Imagine the possibilities for the benefits of tofu!
You can even make it taste just like chicken!
Sometimes I just want to shake the tofu-haters and ask them why they have such a bias. But, instead, I will just sneak it into their dishes and wait until they say they love it, and then drop the truth on them. Ha!
You might wonder what exactly it is made from...
Well, it's soybean curd.
Yes, I can gross people out just by answering that question.
Frankly, it's made a lot like cheese. Hot soymilk is curdled with a coagulant (commonly nigari, but sometimes it's lemon juice or vinegar), and then the curds are pressed into a block. Actually, that's just like cheese.
So, stop being grossed out by the idea of it being a curd. Curd is a gross name, but other foods that don't gross you out are made from curds.
Tofu has been eaten in Asian cultures for thousands of years. It has a great deal of protein, B-vitamins, calcium, and iron. It has no cholesterol and is low in saturated fat and sodium. It is also high in isoflavones, which act like human estrogens.
What's funny to me is that I haven't been cooking with it for very long because I just didn't know how to cook with it. Now I know how easy it is and it seems like I have eaten it for years.
In stores, we can find a few main varieties of tofu: extra-firm, firm, soft, and silken. You can pretty much guess the texture of each of those. Here's a little information on the benefits of tofu styles:
Typically, tofu is in the refrigerated section of the store and comes in a cubed plastic container with water inside. If you are only using a small amount, you can put the rest in tupperware with fresh water and store it in the fridge. If you change the water daily, it should last for about a week in the fridge. You can also freeze it (without water) for about 6 months.
The silken type is usually in the Asian section and comes in a vacuum-packed brick with very little water.
I typically cut the package open over the sink and drain its water, and then press the block of tofu with a towel. The more moisture you can absorb from the block, the more flavoring you can get it to absorb. It is like a sponge, so the drier it is, the easier it is for it to soak up your favorite flavorings.
Don't be afraid to pick up a package-- it's usually very cheap and once you try it, you see how easy it is to cook, and you get all the amazing vegan protein and other health benefits of tofu.