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Prepare yourself… today, we’re completely and totally geeking out. (Especially Rachael.)
Why? Because today’s topic is something we get especially excited about – TOFU!
You might think tofu is a silly thing to get excited about, but we’d bet that’s because you’ve never tasted fresh, homemade tofu. (Trust us. It’s amazing.)
So what is tofu?
Tofu is bean curd made from dried soybeans, water, and coagulant. (It tastes better than it sounds, promise.)
Tofu is typically identified as silken, medium, medium firm, firm, extra firm, and super firm. In general, Japanese-style tofu is softer than other kinds. The firmer the tofu, the harder the texture, and the more protein it contains by weight.
In Japan, most people don’t usually make their own tofu, however in some markets in Japan you can buy bottles of soy milk with packages of coagulant for making your own tofu, though it is becoming harder to find, especially in the bigger cities.
So how is it made?
Tofu is made by coagulating hot soy milk with mineral salt or acid coagulants. By varying the richness of the soy milk, coagulation method, and pressure used to weight the curds, a tofu maker regulates how much whey (liquid) is left in the tofu. The amount of residual whey determines tofu texture and density.
That all might sound really difficult, but it’s not as bad as it sounds.
Rachael even has a post on her blog that teaches you how to make your own tofu!
But you can always try making your own soy milk instead… so delicious.
There are a lot of delicious things you can do with tofu…
Abura-age (fried tofu slices): tofu is sliced and pressed, then carefully deep-fried, first at low then at high temperature, to force it to swell. (simmered in sugar, sake, soy sauce, and dashi then split into pockets and filled with sushi rice to make inarizushi)
Hiya Yakko (Japanese chilled tofu): usually made with silken tofu, but can be made with medium-firm tofu, oboro tofu or zaru tofu. Tofu is chilled and then garnished with toppings, such as scallions, grated fresh ginger, soy sauce, katsuobushi, etc.
Tofu Dengaku (miso-glazed broiled tofu): Tofu is brushed with a soy sauce glaze and lightly broiled, and then brushed with a miso sauce and cooked until bubbling, then served on a skewer.
Agedashi Tofu (deep-fried tofu): Pressed tofu is dredged in potato starch and then fried until lightly crisp and golden, then served with garnishes.
Miso shiru (miso soup): tofu is often included in miso soup
Yu dofu (warm simmered tofu hot pot)
Ma po dofu (spicy tofu with beef and sichuan peppercorn): A Chinese dish, but a Japanese favorite
Ganmodoki (“mock goose,” aka tofu and vegetable fritters): old food, originating sometime around the 1400s. Often served in oden hot pots. Tofu and finely shredded/chopped vegetables mixed with grated yamaimo (or egg white and cornstarch) and fried.
Unagi Modoki (“faux-nagi,” sweet and savory tofu eel): Faux eel fillets made from mashed tofu, salt, sugar, soy sauce, cornstarch, and nori spread of pieces of nori, then fried and brushed with glaze.
Kitsune Udon (Foxy Tofu Noodle Soup): Kitsune means fox in Japanese, and are portrayed as being fond of fried tofu. Kitsune udon is an udon noodle soup served with abura-age tofu in it.
Okara doughnuts: Deep-fried donuts made with okara. Okara replaces some of the flour in a doughnut recipe to make them. They are crisp and pillowy, less sweet than traditional American doughnuts, and FABULOUS!!
Crispy tofu is a hit with the kids.
Tofu doughnuts? Yes, please!
We have a special guest on the show this week! We had an awesome interview with Andrea Nguyen, the very lovable author of the recently-released cookbook, Asian Tofu.
When you’re done listening to the podcast, check out this neat video where she demonstrates how to pick out and tell the difference between different types of tofu:
We really hope you loved the interview with Andrea as much as we did. She’s so much fun! In honor of our very first guest on the podcast…
We are giving away one copy of Andrea’s cookbook, Asian Tofu! All you have to do to be entered to win is…
Leave a comment on this post before 11:59pm Pacific Time on Monday, April 9th.
One entry per person. We will ship internationally… so everyone is free to enter. Good luck!