Tofu (soya bean curd) is one of the most versatile protein foods in the world. Chinese, Japanese and Southeast Asian cooking uses little meat, replacing it with tofu/soya as an alternative source of protein. It also is eaten by vegetarians and vegans to provide a vital protein source.
Tofu is made by curding the mild white milk of the soybean. The soya product made is high in protein, and low in calories, fat and carbohydrates, it contains no cholesterol, and is an economical source of protein.
For dairy free cooking tofu makes a good protein rich substitute, and as it comes in different textures it can be adapted quite easily.
As tofu is a protein the normal protein quantity recommendation applies, a piece approximately equal to a deck of cards would constitute a normal serving.
Tofu can be used in a variety of ways, in breads, desserts, main dishes, salad dressings, salads, sauces/dips and soups.
It's not uncommon for people to be resistant to eating tofu or soya if they know what it is, however as it is so versatile it can be combined or disguised in recipes very easily. Tofu will absorb the flavour of whatever it is cooked with.
Our crunchy chilli tofu recipe is a hit with soya and tofu converts and sceptics alike, and has been responsible for converting more than one reluctant diner to soya protein alternatives.
It also makes great, quick and easy desserts such as our chocolate tofu mousse.
Tofu is usually stored in the chiller cabinet or refrigerator, although there are brands that do not require cold storage, and can usually be found on the normal unrefrigerated shelves in supermarkets and shops.
Fresh tofu should have a delicate scent to it, and the fresher it is the less it will smell. If you can't use all of the fresh tofu once you've opened the packet, then either place the remainder in a glass container, cover the tofu with fresh, cold water, seal with an airtight lid, and store in the fridge for a couple of days, changing the water daily. Or you can freeze it.
To freeze tofu, remove from the packet, drain, then using kitchen towel dry off the excess water. Cut into the portion sizes required, wrap in waxed paper, place in an airtight plastic bag and freeze.
To defrost, leave to thaw, then squeeze to remove excess water, it now resembles a spongy latticework with a much meatier and chewier texture than before freezing. It also crumbles much easier, however be aware, the colour of the tofu may change after being frozen. You can also freeze the tofu in it's packaging, if you haven't yet opened it.
Typical values per 100g of product (tofu/soya curd - firm)
Energy - 118 kcal
Protein - 12.9 g
Carbohydrate (total) - 1.2 g
Carbohydrate (sugars) - 1 g
Fat (total) - 6.8 g
Fat (saturated) - 1.4 g
Dietary fibre - 0.2 g