What’s there to know about tofu? It’s just bland and boring right? Wrong! Tofu is a versatile, nutritious ingredient that soaks up all the tasty flavours that it comes across. Hopefully this will inspire you to try and incorporate tofu into more of your daily cooking :)
Supposedly invented in China in 164 BC, tofu is made from beans – i.e. soy beans, mung beans etc. Most of the tofu you see in the shops should be made from soy beans. The beans are washed and soaked in water for a period of time, then blended with more added water. Soy milk is extracted from the grounded beans and then boiled. At this point, you can drink the soy milk (after flavouring it either as sweet or savoury), or you can add a coagulating agent to create bean curd. The curd is pressed to create tofu. When I was little, I remember going to the traditional markets with my mum and seeing stacks of tofu pressed between wooden boards, just waiting to be bought & made into something yummy.
Things you may not know…
1. There are multiple kinds of tofu
Primarily there are two kinds of tofu, hard or soft. (There are actually various versions of each of these, but let’s ignore that for the purpose of our discussions.) Soft tofu are better in soups, or can be eaten cold in summer as a refreshing way to get protein without feeling heavy afterwards. At our house, the most common way of eating tofu cold is with thousand year old eggs (皮蛋), bit of soy sauce and pork floss.
Hard tofu is best used in stir-fry dishes, in fact there’s a really good Sichuan dish that is basically chili, garlic, chives and hard tofu stir-fried (you can get it at Dainty Sichuan in Melbourne)
2. You can make it taste like ham
Another way to cook hard tofu is to stir-fry it with some chili, garlic and dried anchovies. When we have this at home, we always add some roasted peanuts to the dish once it’s cooked, and it is a great drinking dish ;-) I can’t remember where I heard this from, but the story goes that in the olden days, people who couldn’t afford meat would eat the hard tofu with peanuts, and it’d taste like meat!
Of course when I heard this I was like – that’s ridiculous, there’s no way that’s possible. But then I tried it. I can now inform you that, if you put the hard tofu and roasted peanut in your mouth and chew it together, it tastes like ham. Isn’t that crazy?
3. You can make chocolate mousse with it
1 small block of soft silken tofu (about 300g)
1 block chocolate (about 200g)
- Break the chocolate up into equal size pieces and melt over a double boiler
- While the chocolate is melting, blend the tofu in a food processor until smooth.
- Once the chocolate is melted, add some to the blended tofu and mix until well incorporated.
- Taste the mixture and add more of the melted chocolate if you’d like.
- Pour the mixture into the containers that you’d like to set your mousse in, and pop in the fridge. Take it out once it is set, and you can decorate the mousse with whipped cream/ fruits/ whatever you like.
The resulting mousse has a slightly nutty flavour. I had two test subjects try the mousse (poor them!) and they both liked it. Since I’ve had classes two weekends in a row, there’s not much in the way of fruits etc in my house last night, so the mousse is not as decorated/ accompanied as I’d like, but it was still delicious! It’s marginally lower in caloric content too, if you care about that sort of thing ;-)