torek, 18. januar 2011

How to Cook Tofu - Tips

Tofu is also known as bean curd. It is very popular vegetarian and vegan food item that is made of soy milk. The dish has become very popular in most parts of the world. Since tofu has a very little flavor of its own, it is used as an ingredient in a wide variety of dishes.

Fried Pieces of TofuImage via WikipediaHere are some tips that are good to know when cooking tofuTofu soup.Image via Wikipedia

The Fresher The Better
The best tofu was made today by your local tofu dealer.  It tastes delicious! If you can't get one of those then try to buy organic one that has best-before date as far as possible and use it as soon as possible.

Store Tofu in a Fridge
If you open a pack of it and do not use it all, then drain, rinse, and submerge in fresh cool water in a clean container. Store in the fridge for no more than a few days. Try to clean it and replace water with fresh one every day. Adding a couple of ice cubes to the storage helps to extend storage time a bit. Be sure that tofu is completely submerged in water.

What is the right amount

Tofu is a concentrated protein and should be eaten in small quantities, combined with grains and veggies. You do not need it as much as meat. A couple of smaller slices will usually do.

Choose the right type of Tofu

Tofu comes in a wide variety of forms, from extra soft to extra firm. Some types are better for particular cooking method. Soft tofu may be scrambled like eggs while firmer tofu is better suited for frying.

How to Make Firmer Tofu

If you have only soft tofu, you can make it a little firmer by pressing it at home. Cut the soft tofu into blocks or slices. Put these pieces in between multiple layers of paper towels, on top and bottom. Then put a weight of about one kilogram on top of it for about 1-2 hours and change the paper towels a couple of times. In the end most of the water should be eliminated and tofu ready for delicious stir-fry.

Press the Tofu
Because tofu is full of water you should press out the old water so you can get new water with flavours in. Do not skip this process. It is the key to make tofu taste delicious. Allways remove all water out of it, even if you do not plan to marinate it.

First drain the water that it's packaged in and cover it with a clean paper towel. Weigh down the dish towel with a kilogram weight to remove any excess water that's left. This should take around 15 minutes. If you slice it first you can speed up the process.
For best results you can buy a tofu press. It is a special equipment made exclusively for pressing tofu and removing every bit of water out of it. It does the job extremely well.

Dry Frying Technique for Removing Water

Another method for removing the water is frying the tofu on small heat to let the water to evaporate before marinating it. Use a Teflon pan with no oil. Fry it on both sides. This is a quick and very simple way.

Marinating tips

Marinating tofu is a popular way of giving it a flavour of your taste. If you are marinating for less than one hour it can be done at room temperature with tofu covered. However, for best results you should marinate tofu overnight. Marinating should be done in a tightly-covered container in the refrigerator. Because frozen and thawed tofu absorbs marinades faster than unfrozen tofu.

Tofu hates marinades containing oil
Tofu has a lot of water in it, even after you press it. Since oil and water don't mix stay away from oil in your tofu marinade. Using oil will actually create an oil slick on the tofu and the flavors will have a hard time to get in. Replace the oil in marinade with vinegar, soy sauce, citrus juice and add in only in the end.

Cooking Tofu
Tofu acts like a sponge. If you removed the water from your tofu then be careful if you put it in any liquid since it will absorb that taste.
In a soup or stew, you can preserve the the flavor of a marinated tofu by first frying it on a little oil. If this process is skipped, then the flavors from tofu will mix with the soup or stew broth.
Barbecue it for 4-5 minutes on each side.

Bake it. Slice pressed and drained firm tofu blocks into thin slices and bake on a cookie sheet (sprayed with non-stick spray) at 350-400 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Saute cubes or thin triangles of pressed and drained firm tofu in coconut oil until golden brown.

Deep fry it. Fry thin slices of pressed and drained firm tofu in your deep fryer until light brown and crispy.

Add it to a chili or stew. After firm tofu is drained and pressed, it can be crumbled into pieces that are much like ground turkey or ground beef. Add crumbled firm tofu to a chili or stew and cook through for at least 15 minutes at medium heat. If you marinated it fry it on oil to lock in marinated taste inside.

Make a cheesecake or custard. Silken tofu is great for making cheesecakes and custards. Replace cream cheese with tofu in cheesecake and custard recipes to create delicious, high protein desserts.

Pan-fry it. For about 5 minutes on medium heat on each side.

Stir-fry it. Stir-fry chunks of pressed and drained firm tofu much as you would any other meat. The tofu will nicely absorb the flavors of the stir-fry oils and sauce.

Create tofu smoothie. Use silken tofu. Add fresh fruit, berries, soy milk and ice and blend for a healthful, protein-laden smoothie.

Simmer chunks of firm tofu in a broth, soup or marinade for at least 15 minutes.

Cook Tofu for Babies
Tofu is usually not given to babies below the age of ten months. If your baby has allergies it should be avoided. Make sure to buy as fresh as possible tofu and use it quickly. One of the methods of preparing it for babies is to slice it and then saute it in olive oil. Steam and crumble tofu and mix it with fruits. You may also add softer tofu to babies soup or broth. There are many more options of preparing it for babies.

Serving Tofu

Tofu is best served with grains and vegetables. Some basic examples:
- try it with stir-fried vegetables over rice
- chill and add to a salad
- grill it and serve with potatoes and a veggie blend
- scramble it with taco seasoning and serve in a burrito
- fry and serve in a curry sauce over noodles

Tofu easily absorbs flavour and may be served in a variety of foods. The most important thing to remember is that it will take on the taste of whatever you season it with. You can experiment with different tastes and replace meat in almost any dish. Extra firm version is a good choice for beginners. Use fresh organic tofu and don't forget to marinate it.

If you have not tried it yet then don't waste any time. You don't know what you have been missing. Follow this cooking tips and you will make a delicious dish.

What about calories in tofu? Tofu is also great when it comes to low calorie intake. It contains less calories compared to meat, cheese or eggs. So if you are on a low calorie diet then tofu is great for you. Yet another argument for tofu. But as with all things.... use it wisely and do not overuse it ;)

Bon appetit!

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