February 29, 2012

Tofu Haters

Today as I was eating left-over stir fry with veggies, rice, tofu and curry sauce for lunch, I overheard a conversation between two tofu haters.  They were talking about how much they dislike tofu and their tricks for culinary disguise.

I often hear people diss tofu, but I’m still not sure why.  It seems to me the most unassuming food with very few drawbacks and many benefits.  Some people claim they dislike the “texture”, some people dislike the taste and others I think just have a negative association with what they consider the culture of tofu.  Also, many people are unsure of how to prepare it.  On that note, I am providing a very quick tofu recipe that we use every week in our house:
  1. Buy a package of extra firm tofu.  It will be refrigerated and at my Chicago grocery store, is found in the produce section.  You may have to ask, depending on where you live and your location’s general tofu-acceptability. 
  2. Open the package, drain the water and place the whole block on a cutting board.   Gently squeeze the tofu block with a paper towel to get out any excess water. 
  3. With a sharp knife, cut the block into bite-sized squares and place in a single layer in a glass baking pan.    You don’t need to add oil or anything.  I may sprinkle some soy or teriyaki sauce on top if I feel like it. 
  4.  Bake at 350 F for 30-40 minutes or so.  I don’t even bother to flip the squares while they cook.  Take them out and mix them into your dish.  They go great with vegetables, rice with a little sauce.
If you buy extra firm tofu and bake it as I recommend, it is pretty chewy and has a very different texture from what you started with (the white slippery stuff).  Tofu doesn’t have a strong taste in my opinion – it will take on whatever sauce or seasoning you introduce to it.  You could use a curry or peanut sauce, something spicy with chilies, a sweet Teriyaki or salty soy sauce.  You could also use some ginger or garlic; whatever you like!  Tofu is high in protein, goes easily with many dishes and flavors and has health promoting compounds called “isoflavones” that may provide cardiovascular benefits.  

We circulate it into our weekly recipes along with other dinners - some with meat, some without.  I do not eat it every day; I eat it in moderation, I really enjoy it, and I believe that more people would too if they gave it a fair chance.


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