Saturday, April 2, 2011

Not your mother's tofu..not that I know your mother, maybe it is her tofu

More than a few people have told me recently that they might be willing to eat more tofu if only they knew what to do with it &/or they had a bad (i.e. bland) tofu experience 20+ years ago & have not been back for seconds.  Also, I have had a few husbands say they would not eat tofu, not matter what including one guy who had been eating tofu for let's just say a while without ever questioning what it was.  It might be chicken.  Very square chicken.

For those who do not know, tofu is what happens when milk made from soy beans coagulates & is then pressed to remove moisture.  & before you get all EWW disgusting, chicken nuggets are primarily made from offal.  In the game of I-may-never-stop-gagging, chicken nuggets win.

When you buy tofu at the store, it is usual to open the container & move the block to another container of fresh, clean water although I admit if I know I am going to use it within the next day, I don't bother. Once you have moved it however, you will want to change the water every day or so until you do use it.  Because tofu blocks are large for a single meal, it is likely you will not use a whole block at once.  Just tip out the water, add fresh to cover the remaining block (& then put the cover on the container so you don't slosh water all over the fridge) & put it back in the fridge.  Because there is so much water in tofu, I have never frozen it.  I am quite sure the texture would change dramatically, but for all I know it changes back, or it is a pleasing change.  Someone will have to try that & let me know.

If all of this water changing sounds like too much work, you can do what I do which is cook it all at once & then use it in salads, casseroles, sandwiches, scrambled eggs, etc. over the next few days.  If you are going to go this route, you want to cook it in a spice or spices or flavors that will 'match' the rest of the menu for the next few days.  Or not, I suppose, if you want something completely different.

This is what I do:

I buy extra firm tofu & cut it into cubes no bigger than my thumb.  I have small hands so think small cubes.

I take whatever pan I will be using; I like a big flat pan with high sides, but anything you have would work.  If you have been looking for a reason to use that old wok, here it is.

At this point I either cook something else in the pan (sauteing onions is the way I am most likely to go) or in a cold (Okay room temperature) pan I put in as little light oil as possible to cover the bottom.  This will involve adding a few drops, & swishing the pan around.  Again, because tofu has so much water, you don't want to add any more moisture than you need to.  At this point I often also add whatever spices I might be using.  Lately I have been favoring a mix of spices from Pakistani cuisine, last summer I was on a kind of chili powder kick, but I have been known to go with curry or sage or sesame or paprika...anything really.  A friend of mine puts bouillon cubes in the pan with the littlest bit of water, lets that cook away & then adds the tofu.  Whatever you fancy will probably work; tofu picks up flavors readily (another good reason to keep it covered in the fridge).

Then I turn on the heat, let one side sizzle, gently stir, let the next side sizzle.  The sides exposed to to the hot pan & spice will shrink a bit, giving it a lopsided sort of look until all of them have shrunk down.  All told, it probably won't take much more then ten minutes or so giving you ample time to call your mother or make next weeks grocery list or empty the dishwasher or whatever between stirrings.

When it is done, maybe tip it onto a plate covered with a paper towel to cool.  Or spoon it, depending on how wet/oily the whole thing is.  After it cools, you can put the cooked tofu into sealed containers & refrigerate a day or three until you are ready to use them.

It doesn't sound like much but added to salad it will add well, calcium & protein.  & yes, it will also add some fat, but compared to what you might eat instead, it is an improvement.   As for all those studies about increased dementia, keep in mind the study looked at elderly japanese men who 1) ate way more tofu in their lives than you will even if you eat it every day starting today & 2) the same group also had a much lower incidence of heart disease colon cancer, etc & lived way longer than you are going to if you are eating any other fried crap, so stop worrying.

1 comment:

  1. This has nothing to do with your post.

    I love the blog "curiousfarmer". He's a deep thinker like you and I think you might like it.

    I wish you posted more pictures of the farm. I work in a cube and envy those who don't.

    You're a good writer. My favorite post so far was about the porn? quilt blocks. Hilarious.