What comes to mind when you hear the word Tofu? Protein, soybean, diet food, clueless or perhaps the most boring and dull food ever know to humanity as most American families perceive it to be? If you have ever eaten a well prepared tofu then you’ll know it is the most nutritious and tasty meal ever. Further, it is a great source of inexpensive protein. So who said all healthy foods are prohibitively expensive?
In recent years, the Americans misperception of tofu as being boring and dull took a surprising turn – they discovered it is rich in protein, inexpensive and refreshingly easy to work with and cook. Today, they are available just about everywhere – grocery stores, restaurants and supermarkets.
Tofu can simply be explained as soybeans made by curding soy milk with a coagulant. It is made just like your favorite dairy cheese only that tofu is from soybean milk – the white soybeans are mashed, heated/boiled, curdled and pressed. Tofus can be prepared raw or through draining/blotting, pressing, freezing, salt soaking & draining.
Tofu is available in various varieties and there is a more extensive array of options shoppers can choose from.
Block tofu is the most commonly found tofu in grocery stores. Its curd texture is kind of fluffy unlike soft blocks. It is made by mixing whey and curds. It is further subdivided into;
• Soft Block Tofu- these types of tofus are pressed using a limited time frame. Among the tofus, soft blocks use the minimal pressing time. This allows the curd to coalesce into the whey that remained. Soft block tofu’s tender texture is subtle enough to go with all kinds of dishes. Further, its ability to retain high water content is recommended for deep frying and battering.
• Medium Block Tofu - when it comes to texture, it has a slightly rougher surface than that of soft block. Again, it only retains moderate water content hence it’s not suitable for stir or pan frying. It goes well with all kinds of dishes that don’t require much boiling.
• Firm Block Tofu- Its versatility nature makes it possible for anyone to get through any savory dishes/ recipes. Its rubber-like surface makes it easy to handle and goes well with frying, battering as well as stuffing.
• Extra Firm Block Tofu - as far as curds is concerned, extra firm is tighter than the rest of the block tofus. Its solid and chewable texture makes it suitable for hearty dishes.
This is another common type of tofu that is available in almost every grocery store across the country. It’s almost similar to block tofu but it’s more tender and delicate. If not handled with care it can break to pieces. Again, what makes it different from block tofu is the fact its left unpressed and coagulated without milk curdling. Silken Tofu is categorized into;
• Soft Silken tofu- these silken tofus are usually weighty yet delicate. They need to be handled with extra caution and correctly to avoid breakage. They are best suited for spicy and saucy dishes.
• Firm Silken Tofu – they are simply made by adding less water to soymilk unlike soft silken tofu. They are full-bodied hence can be handled with ease. Majority of people tend to confuse firm silken to firm block tofu. At first glance, there is not a huge difference between the two but looking closer you’ll notice the big difference.
• Extra Firm Silken Tofu – It is completely the same as firm silken the only difference is its extra firmness.