Tofu: what it is, how to prepare it and the simplest recipes

Tofu is a food of Chinese origin widespread in the West especially among those who follow a vegan and vegetarian diet. Due to its production process, similar to that of cheese, it is also known as soy cheese. In fact, the starting ingredient is the soy bean, cooked, blended and curdled with natural ingredients of various kinds. Tofu is a food rich in protein which can also be prepared at home. It is also perfect for numerous recipes, both sweet and savory. Here’s what tofu is in detail.

What is tofu

Tofu, as mentioned, is also known as soy cheese. Originally from China, even if in reality the term tofu is used only in the Japanese language, it is obtained from soy milk curd. Specifically, the seeds are cooked in water and then blended until a sort of milk is obtained. Then follows the phase of curdling with different ingredients depending on the result you want to achieve. They are usually used calcium sulfate or chloride or magnesium chloridealso known as nigari. The curd is then filtered and pressed to obtain the classic loaves.

Tipi di tofu

There is not a single type of tofu even if on the market in large retailers there is almost only the one known as dry tofu. This has a grainy texture, a whitish color and is quite compact. It can then be cut into slices or cubes or grated or crumbled by hand.

Il velvety tofualso known as silken tofuhas a gelatinous consistency. It is usually sold in tetrapak or plastic packages immersed in water and is used for the preparation of sweet or cream recipes.

Less well known are thehemp-fu i.e. tofu obtained from the curdling of hemp milk, and the tofu burmense or chickpea tofu, obtained from the flour of this legume.

How to make homemade tofu

Having understood what tofu is, let’s now see how it is prepared at home, a simple but time-consuming operation. First you need to put in soak the soybeans (500 g) for one night. The following day they should be blended with 4.5 liters of water, using an immersion blender. Everything is then transferred to a saucepan and brought to the boil for 5 minutes.

Filter the mixture by placing a clean cloth in a colander and collect the liquid obtained, which is nothing more than soya milk. Put it back in the pot and boil. In the meantime dissolve 1 tablespoon of nigari in 200 ml of water hot, then add it to the boiling milk, stirring delicately with a wooden spoon. You will notice that in a short time the mixture will start to curdle.

Retrieve the curd with a slotted spoon and transfer it into the appropriate mold (or into a mold for ricotta). Press well and let it rest for at least a couple of hours before using it.

Recipes with tofu

Tofu is the main ingredient in many vegetarian and vegan recipes. In fact, due to the high protein content, it is excellent meat substitute. However, we must not be fooled by the name “soy cheese” because it has nothing to do with the classic milk-based preparations.

He tofu ha a neutral flavor which, however, in no way resembles that of cheese. However, it is perfect, thanks to its particular consistency, to absorb other flavors.

Among the most famous recipes are the grilled tofu, the marinated one and finally the tofu in the pan. The first is prepared by cutting the solid tofu into half-centimetre slices and, after marinating for a couple of hours in soy sauce and spices to taste, it is cooked on a hot plate. In a similar way is prepared the tofu marinato which can then be cooked in a pan with other ingredients including vegetables. The tofu in a pan instead it is the most versatile of the three. In fact, starting from any traditional meat-based recipe it is possible to obtain a vegan/vegetarian equivalent: stew, tofu with lemon, tofu with peppers, all simple but tasty recipes with tofu.

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