Tell Me About Tofu
Often tofu gets a bad rap.
It’s one of those things where if it’s cooked badly it can taste bland and and chewy - however if it’s done right, it’s delicious (and super good for you).
The easiest way to make sure it’s going to taste great is to make sure you’re buying non-GMO, organic tofu. Each brand tastes slightly different so you’ll quickly figure out which you prefer. I often buy mine from asian supermarkets - it’s generally cheaper and more flavoursome.
What is tofu?
Tofu is made through a process of fermenting soybean curds. Think of milk separating into curds and whey, and that’s generally how you make tofu - separate soy milk into curds and whey, and then let the curds ferment. I’ve made it at home twice before and it’s one of those things where the homemade option tastes delicious, but the output for the amount of effort is just not worth it. You end up with a really small amount of tofu for about 3 hours work - it’s much easier to just buy a block from the shops!
Why should I eat tofu?
It’s GREAT for you: soy beans are full of protein, iron, calcium, B vitamins and minerals. If you’re buying nice, organic tofu, the only ingredients should be soybeans, water, and a coagulant agent like nigiri (seaweed extract) to bind the curds into tofu.
What about deforestation and the gorillas?
One of the biggest myths I have to dispel when talking to people about veganism and soy - that Amazonian rainforests are being destroyed to feed my tofu (tempeh/soy latte/soy meat) habit.
At least 70% of the world’s soy is produced for animal consumption.
Yes, meat eaters actually contribute more to soy production and deforestation than vegans. Soy (along with corn) is the main feed used in animal agriculture. It’s cheap, effective, and is ruining the planet.
So the moral of the story - cut out meat from your diet and eat all the organic soybean related products that you desire, you’ll be doing the planet a favour!
What about oestrogen in soy? Will I develop Manboobs?
This dairy board must be pretty pleased with themselves for this one. Not only does soy NOT contain oestrogen - but dairy milk from cows contains mammalian oestrogen, a little known fact that no one seems to talk about. Cow’s milk comes is taken from a cow at the point in her life when her body is heaving with hormones - she’s just had a baby! And like it or not, when you drink her milk, you’re also taking in all of those new-baby hormones.
But back to soy. It does contain something called phytoestrogen, a plant hormone and powerful antioxidant. It’s not going to hurt you, it’s not going to give you man boobs, it won’t effect your fertility and it’s certainly not going to give you breast cancer. In fact, it’s going to work to block breast and prostate cancer. Asian diets including Japanese and Chinese have some of the highest rates of soy intake in the world. They have some of the longest life expectancies in the world, lowest rates of Western diseases like cancer, arthritis and diabetes, and having booming population growth.
Great! I’m convinced. So how do I cook tofu?
There are a few different ways to cook tofu - or you can even eat it raw! There’s firm tofu and soft tofu, and they both have different uses.
Neither has much of a flavour by itself. For the firm tofu, you’ll want to give it a nice marinade before cooking, and then you can bake or fry it. Soft tofu is generally used to make dishes nice and creamy, like a creamy pesto pasta or tofu cream cheese. I’m also a big fan of using soft tofu as the base for a vegan quiche.
Here’s one of my go-to’s: baked tofu squares.
1x block of firm tofu
For the marinade:
¼ cup of organic soy sauce
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1 teaspoon of local honey or vegan honey
2 teaspoons of miso paste
3 cloves of garlic, diced finely
Ginger, diced finely (about as much as you have of the garlic)
Set the oven to 200 degrees celsius, on fan bake.
Rinse the tofu under some cold water to clean it. Squeeze out any excess water and pat dry with paper towels.
Cut the tofu into small squares, roughly 1cm x 1cm x 1cm.
Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl. You’ll need to add a splash of boiling water in order to mix through the miso paste and loca/vegan honey.
Coat each square in the marinade mixture and move to your baking dish. Try and make sure the tofu pieces aren’t touching, for maximum marinade surface area.
Pour any excess marinade over the tofu pieces and put into the oven.
Let it bake for about 30 minutes - if you can remember, turn the tofu pieces over every 10 minutes or so to ensure even marinade spread.
Voila! Once the tofu pieces have soaked up all the marinade and have started to get hard edges, you’re good to go! The longer you bake them, the crispier the pieces will get, so you can keep going longer if you like.
Eat as a snack, add to your stir fry or use as a side dish for dinner. DELISH.