What is tofu and where has it been all my life?
Tofu, or soy bean curd, is one of the healthiest as well as most versatile ingredients. A staple in Asian cooking for thousands of years, and a common item in most Western health food stores for years, it has only recently become a regularly stocked item in traditional grocery channels.
Tofu is sold in a number of different forms and varies by consistency. The only difference between the different forms is the amount of water retained in the curd during the manufacturing process.
- Extra-firm and Firm (or Chinese) tofu are the most solid and dense forms. They hold up well for cooking, whether grilling, stir-frying, saut, and will retain their shape without falling apart. Because of their density, they have the highest levels of protein and fat.
- Soft and Silken tofu are more custard like in consistency and don't hold up as well to the more "rigorous" cooking methods, and because they are more delicate, will fall apart easily. These types of tofu are more often used for blending into dips, dressings, sauces and desserts.
Not sure you like tofu?
There are two important facts about tofu which are both its strengths as well as, to the novice tofu eater, its weaknesses. Tofu has a very subtle flavor, in fact you might consider it pretty bland. But that's the good news! Its lack of flavor allows tofu to serve as an excellent "palette" or carrier of whatever spices, herbs, oils or sauces you choose to add to it. That's why our What You Do With Tofu!® sauces are so robust and flavorful - they're the perfect complement to jazz up the bean curd.
The second fact about tofu is that it is stored in water and has a high water content. Because of this storage method, the tofu has a very "bloated" consistency. However, that is easily remedied, and once the water is expelled (more on that in the techniques section), it becomes a perfect "sponge" for whatever flavor you choose to add. Combine that with its lack of flavor, and you've got a great starting point for a delicious meal. Now all you have to do is add the right flavor. And that's where we come in! Our sauces have been designed with a thicker consistency so they aren't diluted by the moisture in the tofu and will properly coat it.
How do I store tofu?
Tofu is a perishable item and needs refrigeration. You'll want to look carefully at the "Best Before" date on the package to ensure its freshness. Once you open the package it will stay good for 2-4 days. You should store any unused portion in a covered container with water, and change the water daily. The tofu should be discarded if the package begins to expand or "puff out" before it has been opened, or if it smells sour once it has been opened.
Now, what do I do with the tofu?
This is the part where a few very simple techniques will make all the difference in your tofu enjoyment. In order to make it even easier, we've provided step-by-step instructions on a number of different ways to prepare the tofu in our Techniques section.