Tofu: A nutritional powerhouse
one of the richest vegetarian sources of
and a complete one. This nutritional powerhouse is not only
delicious, but so versatile that it can stand in for a post
snack or star in a stir-fry supper. Below, simple ways to
incorporate tofu into everyday meals.
Want to eat more
Think tofu. don’t be scared away; tofu (or
soybean curd/cheese) changes textures and readily absorbs the
flavors of the ingredients with which it’s cooked. On its own, tofu
is quite bland, but this Asian all-star can easily blend into a
palak- peas curry, paella, lasagna-just about any flavor profile and
cooking style imaginable. But first, let’s dispel a few of the most
common tofu myths
Tofu has a weird texture
tofu has a dozen or more textures, depending on what kind you buy
and how you prepare it. It can be meaty, like a grilled chicken
breast, or it can resemble scrambled eggs. It can form the
foundation of a smooth, rich soup or shake, or make a perfect
stand-in for custard.
MYTH # 2
Tofu is complicated
Nothing could be further from the
truth! You can have a complete, healthful tofu-based meal on the
table in just 15 minutes. Of course, it can also be an ingredient in
an incredibly elaborate meal, if that’s your cup of tea.
low in fat
Nope, about 40% of the calories in
tofu come from
fat good, heath-promoting fat. Despite the fat Tofu is actually
very low in
and is a good source of
protein. Gram for gram, few foods provide as many proteins,
carbohydrate and fat benefits in as few calories.
In a process
somewhat similar to the way some cheeses are made, tofu is made by
curding hot soymilk with a coagulant. Natural minerals, such as
nigari (a compound derived from ocean water) and calcium sulfate,
are added to the soymilk, which is then heated, strained and
pressed. You can try your hand at making tofu at home, too.
Make Tofu at Home
1. Soak 250 grams of
soybean for 12-14 hours.
2. Grind to a fine paste
and extract milk by adding sufficient water and passing it
through a fine muslin cloth.
3. Heat the milk obtained
in a large vessel, stirring off and on to prevent burning.
4. Bring to a boil, add 1
cup yoghurt and juice of 1 lemon, and stir until completely
curdled. Remove from heart.
5. Allow the curdled milk
to settle and pass it through a muslin cloth to remove the
6. The resultant mass is
tofu. To obtain extra firm or hard tofu, place the muslin
wrapped tofu under a heavy object to remove all moisture. This
tofu can be used like paneer in many dishes.
* P.S. Don’t throws away
the paste left over in the muslin cloth after extracting soy
milk in step 2. Combine the soy paste with 1 cup of Bengal
gram flour, finely chopped onions, chilies, garlic, and
coriander leaves; form lime-sized balls, flatten and shallow
fry. Voila! You get vegetarian kebabs.
Types of Tofu
Tofu is sold
in a number of ways: Your supermarket (or health food store) may
carry sealed plastic tubs of tofu in a refrigerated section. The
block of tofu sits in water in these tubs, and will be labeled
“extra firm,” “firm” or “soft” and stamped with a sell-by date.
Water-packed tofu should be kept refrigerated, and once opened, the
water should be changed daily and the tofu used within 2-3 days.
This type of tofu can also be frozen; the color will deepen and the
texture becomes chewy. Some recipes specifically call for freezing
the tofu to achieve this spongier quality.
With or without freezing, this is the
tofu to marinate, stir-fry, stew, grill or sear.
is also sold at many grocery and health food stores, usually in
vacuum-packed or aseptic tetra packs, it has a much longer shelf
life, and some can even be stored at room temperature. The texture
is creamy, custard like and silken—but surprisingly, that’s not how
it got its name. This very smooth tofu used to get its fine texture
from being strained through silk, though now only specialty
producers make it that way. Silken tofu may be soft, firm or extra
firm, depending on how much liquid is pressed or drained out of it.
Silk tofu is used to make creamy
sauces and dressings, as well as cheese-cakes-and other smooth
fillings. It makes a good protein base for smoothies (blend with any
fruit combination) and is ideally suited for dishes like quinche or
dessert custards. Silken tofu, whether soft or firm, will not hold
up to stir-frying or other vigorous handing.
If you haven’t already eaten tofu or
you’re hesitant to try it, combine it with other foods you like.
Puree silken tofu
and combine it with cheese to make healthier
Add pureed silken tofu to
lowfat sour cream (hung curd) or
mayonnaise and onion soup mix for a dip or a topping.
Substitute part of the
mince meat with tofu in Kebabs for a
healthier “enlightened” version.
Use pureed tofu
to add substance to a “creamy” veggie soup.
Try these ideas:
tofu with breadcrumbs, finely chopped vegetables and
seasoning to make a veggie burger.
Add small cubes of tofu
to your favorite stew or in place of
paneer to make spinach-tofu or matter-tofu.
Freeze and crumble tofu,
and use it in omelelltes, scrambled eggs
or in place of meat in curries.
Marinate tofu “cutlets” in
a favorite meat marinade or barbecue sauce,
then cook and serve as you would meat.
Crumble and brown tofu,
and combine with pasta sauce. Serve over
Make a stir-fry
using tofu in place of chicken, prawns or meat.
Facts & Figures
Tofu is a low-calorie,
easily digested source of protein.
The nutritional breakdown below compares a half-cup (100gms)
of water-packed silken tofu with the same amount of roasted,
skinless chicken breast. Tofu is a calorie bargain: 100 grams
have roughly half the calories of 100 grams of chicken. Gram
for gram, tofu is slightly higher in fat, but it packs a
whopping 20% of your daily calcium needs.
Water-packed firm tofu
Silken Firm Tofu
Cooked chicken breast
Recipes For Success
stir-Fried Tofu and Vegetables
1 cup chicken broth (sdefatted)
2 tbsp cornflour
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp sesame (til) oil
4 cups broccoli /cauliflower florets
1/2 cup green/red/yellow capsicum
2 tbsp any vegetable oil, divided
1 package (about 300 gm)
extra-firm tofu, drained and cut
into cubes 3/4 cup diagonally sliced celery
3 cups 1 –inch slices bok Choy
(Chinese cabbage) 1 cup sliced mushrooms 1/3 cup sliced green
onions 2cloves garlic, minced 1 cup canned whole baby corm, cut
into 1-inch pieces 1/3 cup sliced water chestnuts (shingada) 4cups
hot cooked rice
To prepare sauce, combine
ingredients in a bowl; set aside.
To prepare stir-fry, steam
cauliflower/ broccoli and capsicum, covered for 3 minutes; drain
and set aside.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large nonstick
skillet over medium-high heat.
Add tofu; cook 9 minutes or until
Remove from pan and set aside.
Heat rest of the oil in pan.
Add celery; stir-fry 2 minutes.
Add bok Choy, mushrooms, onions, and
garlic; stir-fry for one minute.
Add cauliflower/ broccoli, capsicum,
tofu, baby corn, and water chestnuts; stir in sauce.
Stir-try for 3 minutes or until
Serve over rice.
No. of servings:4
serving: Calories 456 (18% from
fat); fat 9 gm (2 gm saturated); protein 17 gm; carbohydrate 79 gm.
with Tofu and Prawns
100 gm rice noodles
4 cups boiling water
3 tbsp chopped green onions
2 tbsp unsalted dry-roasted peanuts,
2 tbsp chopped coriander
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
1 1/2 to 1 tsp garlic chili paste
4 tsp any vegetable oil, divided
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1package (about 300 gm)
reduced-fat extra-firm tofu,
drained and diced 25 medium-size
prawns, peeled and deveined
2 cusp fresh bean sprouts 3/4 cup
thinly sliced leek (green onion)
1/3 cup shredded carrot
Combine rice noodles and boiling
water; let stand 10 minutes.
Drain, chop, and set aside.
Combine onions, coriander, and
peanuts in a small bowl; set aside.
Combine 1/3 cup water and next 4
ingredients (through chili paste) in a bowl. Set aside.
Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large
nonstick skillet one medium-high heat. Add egg; scramble 30
seconds. Remove egg from pan and set aside.
Add 1 tsp oil to pan. Add tofu;
stir-fry 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove tofu from pan
and reserve with egg.
Add 1 tsp oil to pan. Add bean
sprouts, leek, and carrot, stir-fry for 2 minutes. Stir in rice
noodles and fish sauce mixture cook for 2 minutes.
Return egg, tofu, and shrimp to pan;
cook for 30 seconds or until heated through. Spoon
1 1/2 cups onto each of 4 plates;
top each with 2 tbsp peanut mixture.
No. of servings: 4
serving: Calories334 (26% from
fat); fat 10 gm (2 gm saturated); protein 23 gm; carbohydrate 40 gm.