Comes in a huge variety of textures; even your local Wal-Mart should have everything from silken to extra-firm to age (ah-gay, that is). It's good stuff in everything from hot and sour soup to salad, and not the wimpy non-food that some people like to claim it is. Romanized/pronounced doufu in Mandarin Chinese. Yummy.

Tofu (豆腐) is soy bean milk that is formed with nigari - a solidifier. The firmer type of tofu is called momen (綿, cotton). Kinu (絹, silken) type has a softer texture. There are many kinds of tofu in Japanese cuisine. Here are a few.
  • Aburage (油揚げ) is thinly cut, deep-fried tofu.
  • Agedashi tofu (揚げ出し豆腐) is silken tofu coated in corn starch, deep-fried briefly and served in a dashi. Yay!
    Update: I see that a recipe has just been posted
  • Atsuage (厚揚げ) is cut thickly and fried.
  • Ganmodoki (is tofu mixed with yam, egg whites and other ingredients then fried. In Kansai it is called hirousu or hiryozu.
  • Kooridofu (凍豆腐) is freeze dried tofu. It is also called koyadofu (高野豆腐) or shimidofu. It was said that a Shingon monk on Koya-san tripped and dropped some tofu in the snow and lost it. When it turned up later, it was frozen. When it thawed, the tofu had of course lost most of its moisture. It has a lacy, spongey texture and soaks up flavours. It's fun. Just put some tofu in your freezer and take it out a few days later. Try it in miso shiru (miso soup).
  • Okara or Unohana (卯の花) is the soybean pulp that is the by-product of making soy milk. It can be pretty grim. Add some taste with saké, a thin miso or seafood broth. Fry with oil until all the moisture has evaporated. Salt it heavily. Have it with some more saké. Not so bad now, hm? Have some more saké. It's getting better, isn't it?
  • Yakidofu (焼き豆腐) has been lightly browned on both sides by broiling. It is much more savoury than just soft tofu. It's firmness makes it an ideal ingredient in nabe dishes. In the Kanto region, yakidofu is cooked sweet in shoyu soy sauce and is called nishime. Nishime is a popular dish eaten at New Years in Japan
  • Yuba (湯葉) is made from the skin that forms on heated soybean milk. It is very very high in protein, something like 21%. Yuba is available fresh or dried. Reconsitute the dried yuba overnight. Slice it and put it in soups. Better yet, fold it into small packets. Deep-fry it until it is crispy on the outside but has sweet soft layers on the inside. Salt it heavily. Have it with saké.
Tofu can contain as much or more protein per gram as a steak, with a small fraction of the fat, almost none of the saturated fat, and certainly none of the e-coli or mad cow prions.

Some foods that are soy protein based, such as veggie burgers or soy hot dogs, are not tofu per se, but are still damn good.

Tofu the ultimate surrogate.
It tastes, looks and feels like the original food...
if the original food was made of synthetic resin, that is.

It is flavoreless and textureless and, when properly flavored and prepared to look and taste like <insert any food>, it looks and tastes exactly as a flavoreless and textureless substance that has been properly flavored and prepared to look and taste like <insert any food>...and has miserably failed at it.

I find it unfortunate that so many people appear to be missing the (admittedly rather macroscopic) difference between the real thing and a succedaneous substance, especially where something as important as food is concerned. In times like these, can tofu sex be very far?

Which is not to say tofu does not have legitimate uses in - say - Japanese cuisine (I might still not like it, but hey...). It is its (ideological?) role as universal (and I might add obnoxious) surrogate that I firmly oppose.


I realize that this might be viewed as a subjective writeup. Maybe, but I would then maintain that claiming that tofu can be made into any food is at least equally subjective - even if it does not look that way.

Besides, I feel that the E2 tofu conspiracy must be somehow contrasted.

Tofu?

I always wondered why tofu tastes like plaster of Paris when eaten untrated. It is well-known that a good chef can turn tofu in some kind of imitation foodstuff, still, most cooks (especially those of cultures in which tofu is not a part of the traditional fare) fail trying.
Tofu might be responsible for the misconception that most vegetarian meals are either bland or inedible for some other reason.

...but I digress.

Why does tofu taste like plaster ?
Because - believe it or not - it is most likely made using plaster...

I will spare you the steps in preparing soy milk from soy beans, but to make tofu, you basically take soy milk and add either magnesium chloride (Reilly Industries offers magnesium chloride solutions for dust control, anti-icing, chemical intermediates and specialty fertilizer products) for the Japanese version or calcium sulfate aka gypsum aka plaster of Paris (when dehydrated).

TOFU is a German abbreviation for "Text Oben, Fullquote Unten" which translates to "text above, fullquote below". People use this expression in Usenet articles to explain to newbies how NOT to quote articles when replying.

Although I have been a vegetarian for a number of years, I never really liked tofu that much, until I had my Asian foods epiphany. Although in the West, it's seen as a weirdo vegetarian meat substitute, in Asian cultures it doesn't have this stigma. Tofu in Asian cooking is usually presented without apology. It isn't disguised as meat, or used in recipes as a filler, or laced with complex ingredients to hide what it is. Dishes like agedashi tofu or hiyayakko present tofu as the focus, without elaborate preparation. I think this is as big a hurdle for Americans as is the idea that rice is usually eaten plain, without any sauce or dressing.

That being said, it's also important to realize that all tofu isn't created equal. The bland, flavorless clouds that we get in the supermarket are a far cry from the nutty, texturized tofu of Asia. I used to buy Nasoya at the supermarket, but when I discovered other brands at the local health-food store, I was surprised to find that tofu can be less watery, and more flavorful. And don't even get me started on koyadofu.

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