- bean curd
- soybean curd
- soya cheese
- Medium tofu
- Regular tofu
- nigari tofu
- dow fu kon
Wikipedia Article About Regular tofu on Wikipedia
Tofu, sometimes also called doufu (often in Chinese recipes) or bean curd (literal translation), is a food of Chinese origin, made by coagulating soy milk, and then pressing the resulting curds into blocks. The making of tofu from soy milk is similar to the technique of making cheese from milk. Wheat gluten, or seitan, in its steamed and fried forms, is often mistakenly called “tofu” in Asian or vegetarian dishes.
What is tofu? Tofu is a staple in Asia for 2,000 years, tofu is known for its extraordinary nutritional benefits, as well as its versatility. Tofu, also known as soya curd or bean curd, is a soft cheese-like food made by curdling soya milk with a coagulant. Tofu is a rather bland tasting product that easily absorbs the flavours of other ingredients. Tofu is sold in water-filled packs or in aseptic cartons. Fresh tofu is usually packaged in water and should be refrigerated and kept in water until used. If the water is drained and changed daily, the tofu should last for one week. Tofu can be frozen for up to three months. Freezing will change its texture however, it will make the tofu slightly chewier.
Types of tofu
- Firm tofu is dense and can be cubed and stir-fried, grilled, scrambled, pickled, smoked, baked, barbecued or served in soups. Firm tofu is higher in protein, fats and calcium than other types of tofu.
- Soft tofu is more suited for recipes in which tofu needs to be blended.
- Silken tofu has a creamy structure and is also used in blended dishes. In Japan, silken tofu is consumed as such with some soy sauce.
Tofu – History and Health Benefits
Tofu is a soft, cheese-like food, made out of Soya milk that is curdled with a coagulant and usually used to blend with other food types, because it easily absorbs their flavor. Tofu is very popular in the Orient and is started to gain more and more ground in Western diets too.
The history of Tofu starts in China, over 2000 years ago. The first evidence that the Chinese of those times used Tofu in their diets is a mural incised on a stone slab that shows a kitchen scene where both Tofu and Soya milk appear. This stone slab was proven to be from around 100 A.D. The oldest written reference about Tofu is known to also come from China, at about 1500 A.D., when poet Su Ping wrote a poem dedicated to Tofu, called “Ode to Tofu”.
The Tofu started to spread amongst Asia with the appearance and development of Buddhism. In Japan, Kento priests who went to China to study Buddhism brought back Tofu recipes home (this happened at around 750 A.D.). It was eaten as part of a vegetarian diet for priests and was often used as an offering at an altar. Tofu gradually became more and more popular among the Japanese nobility and the samurai class, who needed healthy diets in their constant and rigorous training.
In the Western world, tofu began to be popular in the late fifteen century. The first written reference about Tofu is in the 1603 Spanish dictionary “Vocabularion da lingoa de lapam”. By the time the colonization era was over, Tofu had spread all across the World being a well-known element from almost every culture’s diet.
Tofu Health Benefits
It’s been proven that Tofu has a lot of proteins, almost as many as you would get from the same weight of chicken meat, without the cholesterol and saturated fats. Cholesterol and LDL levels can go down by 30% if you build a diet that constantly has Soya proteins within. This is a very important benefit for those that have cardiovascular problems or those that want to lower their triglyceride levels. Tofu also has all the essential amino acids found in animal proteins. Having a low ration of calories, it’s a very popular dish in weight loss diets and because of its high calcium value, it’s ideal for those who want to strengthen up their body.
A very important, scientifically proven fact, is that Tofu reduces the chance of your body becoming cancerous. In addition, it also helps women have a softer, less uncomfortable menopause period. The chemical elements of Tofu act as weak estrogens, which help a woman’s body be more balanced during this uncomfortable period. Also, women experience accelerated bone loss during menopause, Tofu reducing this risk with its high calcium value.
Additional health benefits of Tofu include its high iron value (providing almost 35% of the required daily value), manganese value (providing 36% of the required daily value) and copper value (11% of the standard daily value). These percentages are calculated for 4 ounces of Tofu.
- Rich in Nutrients. Tofu is rich in both high quality protein and B-vitamins. Tofu is, therefore, an excellent substitute for meat in many vegetarian recipes. As opposed to soya milk, tofu contains a lot of calcium. This calcium originates from the coagulant (nigari). When making tofu, the soy proteins are precipitated with calcium, providing tofu with a ready source of calcium. Calcium in tofu contributes to the prevention of osteoporosis.
- Easy to digest. An additional benefit of tofu is that it is extremely easy to digest. This is because the soybean’s fiber is removed during the manufacturing process.
- Reduce cholesterol. As most other soyfoods, tofu reduces heart disease by lowering the level of the "bad" LDL cholesterol, and as the result maintaining the level of "good" HDL cholesterol.
- Rich in isoflavones. Tofu is rich in isoflavones. When making tofu, the soy isoflavones, genistein and daidzein, remain bound to the soy protein. Firm tofu contains about 35 mg isoflavones per 100g. Isoflavones will reduce the risk of osteoporosis, a disease associated with reduced bone density and increased bone fractures. Isoflavones will also lower rates of breast cancer and prostate cancer, and reduce menopausal symptoms including mood swings and hot flushes.
With Tofu being such a nutritious, protein-rich and delicious food, it’s no wonder people from all over the world find it an increasingly necessary component of a diet. Being one of the most versatile foods, it can be served with all kinds of meals, ranging from salads and second courses, to desserts or appetizers.