Mormon Moms for Vegetarian, Vegan and Raw Cooking!

This blog is intended to be a support for anyone who desires to make the vegetarian, vegan {and or} raw food diet change. Whether you want to drastically change to a completely raw diet or just add a few more vegetarian meals to your weekly menu, we are here for you! It doesn't matter who you are or why you want to make the change. We want to share our love, support, tips, testimonies and - recipes - to make your life easier, happier and healthier!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Tofu


Tofu. It can be a little taboo can't it? I know a lot of people who eat tofu because it's a healthy choice, but they don't really like it. Most of the people I know though, hate tofu and refuse to eat it. I mostly think this is just because people don't know how to prepare it correctly. I hope this post will give you the tools you need to create and enjoy delicious tofu meals.

What is tofu?
Very basically, tofu is coagulated soy milk, which is just soy beans soaked in water, ground up and mixed with water. Once the soy milk is turned into curds it can be pressed into blocks. It is very high in protein and calcium so it is a good way to supplement the vegetarian diet.

What kind of Tofu should I use?
There are mainly just two different kinds of tofu: "silken" or "soft" and "regular". Both kinds come in soft, firm and super firm. "Silken" tofu is used mainly for dressings, sauces and other things that have a thick creamy texture. "Regular" tofu is what you would use to cook with as a protein (meat substitute). Use a softer "regular" tofu for "scrambles" or mock cheese fillings, and a firmer "regular" tofu for stir fry's, soups and things like that.

Where do I buy tofu?
I mostly use "regular" tofu and it also happens to be the easiest to find as well. In my grocery stores here in the East (I assume it's the same everywhere else) I get my tofu in a plastic container of water in the produce section. It looks like this (see below). There are MANY brands and I can't say I have a favorite. You can also find the silken tofu in the Asian aisle of many grocery stores as well.

Now that I have it at home...what do I do with it?
First things first. Once you get tofu home you should write the expiration date on the side of the plastic container with a sharpie. Then cut the seal off the top of the container and discard. Drain the water from the tofu and then refill it with fresh water. For the best flavor you should change the water everyday until you use it (I only sometimes do this. It does keep it fresh, but sometimes I forget and it's no big deal. My tofu still tastes great).

The night before*
you are going to use the tofu you need to prepare it. Take the tofu out of the container, draining all the water. I usually let it sit in a colander for like 5-10 minutes just to make sure it's drained really good. Now you can cut your tofu to your desired sized pieces. I like to cut them into 1" by 2" rectangles about 1/4 in thick for stir fries and curries and I just buy the pre-cubed super firm tofu for soups and salads. Then take a large cookie sheet and cover it in paper towels.

Lay your tofu pieces on the paper towel lined cookie sheet and then cover the tofu in more paper towels. Now place another cookie sheet on top of that and weigh it down with some heavy cans or a heavy pan.

(I wanted to use this opportunity to showcase a few great cookbooks - and Ani's Raw Food Essentials is upside down - sorry Ani)

Place all of this in the fridge and let it sit over night.

(Yes my grocery store just had a great sale on Almond Milk)

*If you are in a time sensitive situation just let it sit in the fridge at least 20-30 minutes. It's no big deal. I do this all the time.

OK...now what?
Now your tofu is ready to absorb whatever flavor you prefer. Marinate your tofu in your favorite marinades, teriyaki sauces, herbs and spices...you can even batter, bread and fry your tofu. Stir fry it until browned, bake it, boil it or just toss your marinated tofu in a cold salad - whatever suites you. BTW, Tofu is pre-cooked so you don't have to worry about cooking it all the way through like you would chicken or pork. This also means Tofu travels really well.

(here I have my tofu marinating in my simple but delicious Teriyaki sauce...don't worry recipe to come!)

Overwhelmed? Don't be!
These preparation practices are for 100% best results. They are not 100% necessary for your tofu to taste good. If you have really sensitive taste buds or you think you absolutely hate tofu then I would recommend doing all of the above, but if you're just not that picky and you just don't have that much time, then don't worry about it. Do what you can, do what you want but I would say at the very least press your tofu between paper towels for at least 20 minutes before using. You can do this very easily while getting marinades ready, chopping vegetables or let's face it, cleaning up your kitchen and doing your dishes or setting the table.

Does this help? Do you have any tips about tofu you'd like to share? Do you have more questions? Alright, now go get some tofu from the store and I'll have a tofu recipe for you on Monday (it's a salad so put super firm, cubed, regular tofu on your list).

*Dear Beloved Readers of The Vegetarian Tree,

Did you like this post? Do you have a comment or question? Let us know! Comments help us know what you want to read about. Don't be shy, we want to hear from you! Also, if you like this post share it with your friends using the sharing toolbar at the bottom of the post!

LOVE - Amy & Ronda*

4 comments:

Ann said...

Just found you because of your comment on Bloom. I've been looking for a go-to vegetarian recipe blog, so I hope you're the one!

This post is great. I cook with tofu frequently, and I NEVER press it. I do firmly squish it into paper towels to get as much water out as possible. Do you think pressing it overnight vastly improves its ability to absorb other flavors?

I'm the kind of person who needs specific recipes for EVERYTHING, so I'd love to see oodles of tofu stir-fries and so on. One key to enjoying tofu is to eat it as tofu. We always tell folks who are new to tofu NOT to eat it as a meat substitute--like tofurkey or tofu-bacon. Let it just be tofu and don't try to make it into something it's not, and you will be much more likely to enjoy it.

Amy said...

Ann, WELCOME to our blog! I hope we can be your go-to recipe blog as well. As for the tofu, if you use it frequently and like it already then no, it's probably not going to be worth it to you to change the water and press the tofu over night. The only times I notice a difference in the flavor is when I'm eating tofu with out a lot of other seasonings (which isn't very often) and even then its not even that big of a difference TO ME (but I love tofu). For people who are new to tofu and have sensitive tastes pressing it and changing the water every day would probably be the best choice.

Ronda and I were just talking about how tofu is tofu - NOT FAKE CHICKEN OR BEEF! When you think about it that way it tastes great, when your trying to imagine you're eating a hamburger it's not so good!

atypicalmormonchick said...

I had no idea you had to prep tofu like this. Having never cooked with it, this post was very helpful. I'm making your oriental orzo salad tonight. Thanks!

Sally said...

Thanks for sharing this. I've been scared of tofu for a while because I tried using it once and it was not so good. Most likely because I just used it straight out of the package. Anyway, I followed your steps the other night while I was making vegetarian chili and it turned out great!

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