That is the question on many a meat-reducer’s lips this National Tofu Day. But if you think tofu is not for you, we’re here to twist your arm. Because we reckon it’s the best thing since sliced fermented bean curd – the very thought of which is probably the first thing that puts you off. Let’s go through this in bite-sized, protein-rich chunks, taking on the Big Three Reasons people say no to tofu:
1. The texture’s weird
Which one? You see, tofu comes a range of different consistencies, from silken tofu at one end of the scale to super-firm at the other. So there’s bound to be one that you can get along with. Let’s tuck into the detail:
If you can’t get with the spongier sorts detailed below, start with the silky stuff. This Japanese fave is – you guessed It – super smooth, silky and creamy. You can use it as you would cream cheese, so it works brilliantly in dips, soups, sauces and desserts. For instance, wow your vegan friends with this tofu-based mousse. Its high water-content is what makes it ‘silken’. Just be careful when handling it as it has a tendency to fall apart.
A bit more compact than silken tofu, the regular sort is pretty common in Asian dishes. We love it in a curry like this one but it’s equally at home in your fave stir fry. So why not turn your go-to into your go-tofu?
Super versatile and probably the easiest to find in your local supermarket, this is sturdy stuff that you can chop into nice regular chunks. It’s as happy in the Actifry as it is a deep fryer or a decent pan and is a brilliant fish or chicken substitute.
Tofu aficionados (tofucionados?) can point you in the direction of extra-firm and super-firm varieties. These have even less water-content than firm tofu, making them really meaty. Do your bit for the planet and try a tofu steak for a change. Don’t think it’ll taste good? Glad you asked…
2. It tastes nothing-y
That’s kind of the point. Tofu is a brilliant vehicle for flavour. Here are some to-foolproof ways to let the taste do the talking and the tofu do the walking.
As with chicken, time is your friend here. An hour in the fridge is fine, but overnight is better. There are no end of options – but the trick is to include oil, acid, salt, sweet, and something aromatic. For an Asian twist, try sesame oil, mirin, soy sauce, lemon juice and ginger. Head here for more inspo.
We’ll wager a molten Mars Bar that deep-frying makes everything taste better. Tofu is no different. Start by getting some seasoning into your batter mix, but when it’s done and dusted (ideally in flavoured salt) dip it into bbq sauce, sweet chilli, cheese ‘n’ chive, thousand island, maple syrup or whatever you’ve got a hankering for.
From classic chicken noodle soup to a trendy pork ramen, substitute the meat for tofu (or just bring it along for the ride); it’ll transport all the flavours in the broth directly to your taste-buds. Just make sure you’re wearing a bib.
3. I just don’t get it
Fair enough. If the above hasn’t convinced you, then maybe we’re fighting a losing battle here. But before you say a final F.U. to tofu, just bear these last few points in mind:
Tofu used to be the sort of thing you discovered on your gap year and harped on about to anyone who’d listen. Now, it’s available everywhere. So it’s never been easier to get. Literally.
It’s good for you
Probably. While health claims are rightly subject to intense scrutiny, tofu is a good source of protein, amino acids, iron, calcium and vitamin B1. Beyond that, it is thought to help lower cholesterol and may even reduce the risk of heart disease.
It’s good for the planet
Again, this is always ripe for debate. But if everyone reduced their meat intake, particularly beef, then there’s broad agreement that it’d add up to something significant.
So tofu or not tofu? Ultimately, it’s up to you. But for us, it’s a no-brainer.