Tofu

A great and inexpensive way to add protein to your diet is with tofu.  Also known as bean curd, tofu can be fried, stir-fried, baked, grilled, poached, braised, broiled, whipped, blended or even served cold from the package.  You can also make your own.

Types of Tofu

The most common types of tofu are brick-formed regular and silken.  The regular form come in soft, medium, firm and extra-firm, and the silken comes in soft, firm and extra-firm.  The difference in firmness has to do with the water content, with soft having more moisture and the firm variety having less.

Regular tofu is found in brick form in sealed packages with water.  It is made by pressing water out of the curds to form a dense, crumbly tofu.  The curds are then put into forms to make a brick.

Firm and extra firm tofu work well in grilling, stir-frying and baking because they hold their shape.  The soft and medium tofu will not hold their shape well for cooking, and work best served raw or used a thickener or blended.

Silken tofu is usually found in aseptic boxes and has more of a custard-like texture.  The difference between the regular and silken tofu is how the tofu is processed.  The coagulant that is used to curd the tofu is stirred into the soy milk in the mold when making silken, rather that before placing the curds in the mold.  And the liquid is not drained off.  This give the tofu a very high moisture content.

Silken tofu works well as a thickener or a replacement for eggs or dairy products.  Extra form works well crumpled into salads or for light stir-frying.

Storage

Tofu should be stored in the refrigerator or frozen.  When storing in the refrigerator, change th water daily and store no more than 4 days.  The tofu is spoiled when it smells and/or tastes sour.

Tofu can also be frozen.  Freezing toughens it and gives it a dry and spongy nature.  This makes it perfect for grilling, stir-frying, or in braised dishes.  Remove the tofu from the package, drain it and then wrap it in plastic or place into a container.  For extra dry tofu, cut it into cubes and dry them well.  Place in a freezer bag.  You can keep tofu in the freezer for up to 3 months.

This is a great way to reduce your meat consumption, save money, and eat healthy.  Watch for some simple recipes coming up this weekend!

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