Tofu is made of soybean milk. It originally comes from an Asian country that discovered health benefits of tofu many years ago. Soybeans are boiled and curdled and then processed into tofu that you can find in many stores. It’s rich in protein which is perfect for everyone who eats vegetarian.
Plain tofu doesn’t have any flavor, but it absorbs other flavors so it’s best seasoned or marinated to suit anything you like. It’s perfect for dressings, baking, and dips to add interesting texture and moisture. Many people use it instead of eggs, oils, and dairy.
Healthy benefits of tofu
Tofu is a great source of protein, it’s one of the main reasons of its popularity. Tofu contains amino acids and can balance out any diet. It’s a great source of vitamin B1, manganese, selenium, copper and iron. More firm tofu is higher in protein than other options but soft tofu is better for sauces or baking.
The difference between tofu types
You can get regular and silken tofu. They come in a different firmness, so you can easily find extra-firm or soft. Silk tofu came from Japan, it’s very soft and requires care during cooking. Regular tofu is more common. You can find it in the produce section of many grocery stores. Regular tofu is suitable for the majority of recipes.
The different firmness of tofu
The firmness of tofu depends on how much water is pressed out of it. Tofu gets firmer when more water is pressed out. The protein content of tofu increases with its firmness because firm tofu contains less water, even though the size is the same.
If you don’t bake or make a sauce, firm or medium tofu is a perfect choice. There isn’t a big difference between firm tofu, my personal favorite is extra firm tofu. You can eat tofu raw or cook it in many different ways. Baked and crispy tofu is as rich in protein as its raw alternatives. Let’s talk a bit more about tofu firmness and what it can be used for.
Extra-firm type is perfect for recipes where you want tofu cubes to hold their shape. It will hold regardless of your cooking technique. You can cube, slice, fry, bake, crumble or grill extra-firm tofu. It absorbs less flavor though, so you may want to marinate it for a couple of hours before cooking.
Firm tofu absorbs more flavor and can hold shape while baked, fried, cubed or sliced. I like making tofu scramble and create vegan versions of cheese (for example, ricotta). From my experience, firm tofu is the best for all recipes except sauces.
Medium tofu easily falls apart when handled so it’s good for frying or marinating. It will absorb a lot of flavors. You can use it for Asian soups such as miso, marinate it, use for baking or serve cold. You can bake it but firm tofu holds shape much better.
This type of tofu is perfect for adding to raw desserts, smoothies, sauces, and dips. You can use it as a replacement for dairy in Caesar salad and other creamy dressings.
This tofu has a smoky and meaty flavor. It’s very firm and holds shape really well. I like using it in sandwiches as an alternative to meat. You can eat it raw and cold. If you have a gas grill or a smoker, you can make smoked tofu at home.
This is unpressed and undrained tofu that contains a lot of water. You can’t see them very often in regular grocery stores and you can substitute it for soft tofu. Silken tofu can be extra-firm and firm but it doesn’t hold shape well anyway. It absorbs flavor well and can serve as a cream.
You can find silken tofu in tubes and if your grocery store doesn’t have it, check the closest Asian food store. You don’t need to refrigerate silken tofu. It’s very delicate and crumbles easily so be careful when you cook it. I usually just put it into the blender and prepare vegan smoothie or cheesecake.