Terrific tofu, all you need to know about this superfood…

Prachi Joshi

An integral part of Oriental cuisines and a veritable storehouse of nutrition, here’s all you need to know about this healthful ingredient…

What is Tofu?

Tofu is essentially curds made from soymilk – fresh soymilk is curdled and the resulting curd is pressed into soft blocks. Tofu is also known as bean curd and is used extensively in East Asian and South-east Asian cuisines. It can be used in many forms – fresh (firm or soft/silken), fermented (mainly in China), dried (mainly in Japan), and even frozen. Tofu by itself has very little flavour or smell, so it acts as the perfect canvas for both savoury and sweet dishes. It can be used as is in dishes or marinated for salads. It can also be stir-fried, grilled, baked or fried for use across a variety of dishes.

Health Quotient

Tofu has been rightly called as a superfood. It is low on calories (76 calories per 100 g) and high on protein, which is especially beneficial for vegetarians. Since it’s made from soymilk, it’s also perfect for vegans recipes. It is an excellent source of iron, calcium, Vitamin B12 and essential amino acids. Tofu is derived from soy protein, which has been known to lower levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and also protect against cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

A note of caution though – if you have a history of kidney stones, avoid tofu and soy products as they contain high amounts of oxalate.

Make it Work

Before using the tofu, remember to drain it under a weight. It’s a fairly simple process. Cover your cutting board with kitchen (paper) towels. Place the tofu on it and then place a heavy weight such as a bowl or pan (even a book will do!) on it. Drain the tofu for at least 15 minutes (30 to 60 minutes is ideal). Tilt the board and allow the water to drain out periodically. You may also need to change the kitchen towels. Draining removes the moisture content from the tofu so that when you cook it, the tofu turns out nice and crisp.

Tofu also needs to be marinated else it will be quite tasteless. But remember that oily marinades do not work with tofu due to its water content (even after draining). Skip the oil and use vinegar, soy sauce or citrus juices (or a combination of these) in the marinade.

Incorporate this superfood into your diet for an added boost of nutrients and health. Try this Thai-inspired warm tofu noodle salad; it’s perfect for a quick lunch. You can even refrigerate it and have it cold – it tastes awesome either way!