Evan is The Wannabe Chef, but judging from his man-blog, he’s way past wanting. His greedy food creations are freaking ridiculous! And since I’m extra lame went it comes to all things tofu, Evan is here to school us on the ins and outs of this mystery “meat”. If this were a class, I’d call it Tofu 101.
So You Wanna Be A Tofù Master?
Hello, Yucky people (and I mean that a good way). Today I’m taking the reigns from Josie to be your tofu sensei. Two years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you anything about tofu, so when Josie said she was afraid to buy tofu, I could relate. Still, tofu is a healthy, protein-packed meat substitute and there’s no reason it shouldn’t be a part of your diet with all of its benefits.
Know Your Enemy: What is Tofu?
Tofu is made from processed soy beans. It’s the solid mass left from beans that are cooked, crushed, and drained. Sound confusing? Think about how cheese is made: Milk is separated into curds and whey and the curds get molded into blocks of cheese. Tofu is like the curds of soy beans and the soy milk the whey.
Besides being high in protein, tofu also contains fiber and calcium. It’s completely plant-based, making it vegan-friendly and cholesterol-free. You can find it in any grocery store in the refrigerated section near the milk and yogurt. Tofu needs to be refrigerated but will last a long time kept sealed in package.
You Must Find The Chosen One: Buying Your Tofu
There are actually several kinds of tofu: firm, soft, silken, etc. Some of it looks like goop and others look like the kind you order from restaurants. To keep things simple, I’d suggest starting with extra-firm tofu, which is the easiest to prepare.
Use The Force: Press Your Tofu
You may be asking, “What the heck is that crazy contraption?” It’s called a tofu press and it helps remove the moisture from tofu to make it firmer; the firmer the better (TWSS). But you don’t need to go out and buy one of these to prepare tofu. Simply wrap a block of tofu in a towel and put it under a heavy weight (like all those cookbooks you probably have lying around but don’t read because it’s 2011 and if you want a recipe you can just Google it). After about an hour, the tofu will be noticeably meatier in texture.
The True Test of a Champion: Cooking Your Tofu
By far, the fastest and most common way to use tofu is in a stir-fry. Simply heat 2 tablespoon oil and 1/4 cup soy sauce over a medium-high burner. Then add in 1 cubed block of tofu and 2 cups of steamed vegetables and stir! 10 minutes later and you have something completely edible. The more you practice, the more complex flavors you can add such as garlic, chili powder, honey, lime, etc. Here are a few stir-fry recipes to get you started:
Another easy way to prepare tofu is to marinate and bake it just like chicken. Really, there’s no chicken marinade that you can’t use for tofu. Just let it soak to absorb the flavors just the same and bake at 350 for about an hour. Close your eyes and you won’t know if you’re eating tofu or actual meat (only unlike Taco Bell you can be sure of the percentages here):
I hope this quick tutorial has demystified tofu for you. Now you are ready to go out into the world—err, supermarket—and become a tofù master, too.
Evan Thomas is a student at New England University where he cooks most of his own meals in between and around classes. He also loves distance running and photography. Check out Evan’s greedy man-blog and follow him on Twitter.
All photos courtesy of Evan Thomas.