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Tofu is a food of Chinese origin, made by coagulating soy milk, and then pressing the resulting curds into blocks. Although pre-made soy milk may be used, most tofu producers begin by making their own soy milk, which is produced by soaking, grinding, boiling and straining dried (or, less commonly, fresh) soybeans .There are many different varieties of tofu, including fresh tofu and tofu that has been processed in some way. Tofu has very little flavor or smell on its own, so it can be used either in savory or sweet dishes, and is often seasoned or marinated to suit the dish.
The production of tofu from soy milk is similar to the production of cheese from milk, although some tofu is made by processing non-soy products, such as almonds or black beans.
How to select
Tofu is sold in four different ways: bulks, individually wrapped, freeze dried, and frozen. Select as per your individual preference, usage and recipe requirements. When buying tofu sold in bulk, make sure the water looks fresh and is not excessively cloudy. When buying individually wrapped tofu, check the expiration date on the package-this date is valid as long as the package has not been opened. Freezing makes tofu more rubbery and gives it a yellowish-white color, but once thawed, frozen tofu can be used just like fresh tofu. It should be thawed in the refrigerator in order to minimize the alteration of its texture and the spread of bacteria.
· In Asian cooking, tofu is eaten in myriad ways, including raw, stewed, stir-fried, in soup, cooked in sauce, or stuffed with filings
· The firmer styles of tofu are used for kebabs, mock meats, and dishes requiring a consistency that holds together, while the softer styles can be used for desserts, soups, shakes, and sauces
· Grated firm tofu is sometimes used as a meat substitute. In India, tofu is also used as a low fat replacement for paneer providing the same texture with similar taste and cooked in gravies as paneer is cooked.
· In many parts of China, fresh tofu is similarly eaten with soy sauce or further flavored with veggies, century eggs, and sesame seed oil
· Tofu is served with toppings like boiled peanuts, azuki beans, cooked oatmeal, tapioca, mung beans and a syrup flavored with ginger or almond.
· In the Philippines, the sweet delicacy taho is made of fresh tofu with brown sugar syrup and sago.
How to store
Packaged tofu can be kept for a maximum of 90 days unopened in the refrigerator.
· Tofu is low in calories, contains a relatively large amount of iron and contains little fat. The tofu may also be high in calcium and/or magnesium.
· Tofu also contains soy isoflavones, which can mimic natural human estrogens and may have a variety of harmful or beneficial effects when eaten in sufficient quantities
· Tofu is relatively high in protein, about 10.7% for firm tofu and 5.3% for soft "silken" tofu with about 2% and 1% fat respectively as a percentage of weigh
· The soy protein is correlated with significant decreases in serum cholesterol, Low Density Lipoprotein LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglyceride concentrations.
Place the tofu block on a chopping board and chop it into small pieces. Can be finely chopped or roughly chopped or chopped into big chunks as per recipe requirement.
Crumble the tofu with your hands. You can disintegrate them into big or small pieces as desired.
On its own, fried tofu is quite simple, but when paired with dips and sauces, or marinated in soy sauce, chilli or even sesame oil, it brings out all of those flavours in an interesting way. Apart from soft tofu, all forms of tofu can be fried. The thinner the tofu slice, the crisper it is. The thinner the tofu slice, the crisper it is. They are mostly deep fried in vegetable, sunflower or canola oil, each type yielding a different taste and textural result, making the tofu, light and airy on the inside.
This requires grating the tofu blocks/ slabs in a hand held grater. This grated tofu is fine in texture and is used for making baked dishes like au gratin or casseroles.
Crumbled Tofu- Take a small ball of tofu and crumble the tofu roughly with the base of the palm. This is used as stuffings for various preparations.
Pass the tofu through a shredder and separate the thin slices into shreds with fingers. Alternatively, you may buy packaged shredded cheese.
You may place the tofu in a slicer or slice the cheese in thin or thick slices with a sharp knife, as per the recipe requirement.
Turn the block of tofu on its side and make a series of slices. Lay the tofu on top of each other and make a series of lengthwise slices, (½ inch slices for smaller cubes, 1 inch slices for larger cubes. Make a series of ½ inch or 1 inch crosswise cuts through the cheese and it will fall away into cubes.
Cut the tofu block into thin or thick strips as per recipe requirement.