Cooking With Tofu

At one time it wasn't widely known in the US, but now cooking with tofu is very common. Here are some recipes you might like to try.

| September/October 1980

  • 065 cooking with tofu - vegetable dip
    A tofu-garlic dip adds zip to fresh veggies and is a simple way to get started cooking with tofu.
    PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • 065 cooking with tofu - baba burgers
    Soy burgers... they're better than beef!
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • 065 cooking with tofu - stroganoff
    Tofu stroganoff makes a hearty main dish.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • 065 cooking with tofu - tofu cheesecake
    Maple-tofu cheesecake is a sure winner.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • 065 cooking with tofu - tofu pancakes
    Tofu pancakes, a healthful way to wake up.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • 065 cooking with tofu - tofu walnut torte
    Tofu-walnut torte, a scrumptious dessert.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

  • 065 cooking with tofu - vegetable dip
  • 065 cooking with tofu - baba burgers
  • 065 cooking with tofu - stroganoff
  • 065 cooking with tofu - tofu cheesecake
  • 065 cooking with tofu - tofu pancakes
  • 065 cooking with tofu - tofu walnut torte

Here on the Hawaiian island of Maui, a person can walk into any grocery store and discover items that resemble individual blocks of light cheese floating in little tubs of water. The strange food is tofu, an inexpensive, high-quality protein source that's been used in the cuisine of eastern Asia for thousands of years. The nutritious substance—which still forms a major part of the diets of most people in Taiwan and Japan—is produced by heating soy milk and pressing the resulting curds to form firm blocks.

Although the soy "cheese" is an amazingly rich food source, tofu is still all but unknown in many areas of the United States, where—ironically enough—two-thirds of the world's soybeans are grown. The product of the leguminous plant contains several essential amino acids not found in many grain products ... and it's low in calories and saturated fats (so it's easy to digest), rich in vitamins and minerals, and totally free of cholesterol. What's more, the wholesome food is extremely low in cost when compared to other sources (chiefly animal products) of protein.

Versatility is another great asset of cooking with tofu. It has a very mild flavor, equally well with fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy products ... and you can also use it in place of beef in those traditional meat-centered recipes you don't want to give up! Don't make the mistake of thinking that tofu is nothing more than a meat substitute, though. In fact, its bland taste is considered a virtue by most natural foods cooks, since the curd brings out the subtle flavors of a whole range of other ingredients in casseroles and stir-fry dishes anal desserts ... while providing a hearty, protein-packed basis for the meal.

You can either make your own tofu at home, or you can buy it—in cakes that weigh 10, 12, or 20 ounces—at your local health food store or supermarket. You'll usually find the Oriental delicacy immersed in water and packed in a small plastic container. Take it home, and be sure to refrigerate the cake to preserve its freshness.



Tofu will keep for 7 to 10 days in its unopened package, although the soy product does tend to lose some of its original flavor and natural sweetness as it ages. If you plan to use the curd within a few hours, slit open the carton and drain off all the water. Then remove the block, finish draining it, and place it in a new container, with fresh water, until you're ready to start cooking.

Either way, remember to drain the cake in a colander about half an hour before you're going to use it. Finally, pat the block dry with a clean towel ... and try some of the following recipes.






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