Tofu often has the reputation to be bland. But in Asia, particularly Japan, they appreciate this subtle foodstuff, making it in several textures, each with a different cooking purpose. Tofu is healthy, light, full of protein but also a wonderful flavour sponge, soaking up the tastes of anything you cook it in. It can be fried, simmered in soups, baked, smoked, marinated and eaten raw.
From a previous blog I wrote on tofu:
Inari tofu pockets: this are sweet fried tofu ‘envelopes’ that can be stuffed with rice. I totally love these and have been eating them by the packet. They should first be rinsed with hot water to remove the grease, then squeezed dry.
Silken tofu: soft, usually it is drained, placed on the palm of the hand and cut gently into squares. Great in soups or as a vegan replacement in desserts. (I make a tofu chocolate mousse).
When I was travelling in Tibet I had an amazing dish in Shigatse: firm tofu cut into rectangles and fried in red chilli sauce and garlic. It was so moreish I went back to the same lunch place every day to have it again. Today I made a smoked sesame tofu and roasted butternut squash with smoked paprika salad. Always have a packet of tofu in the house for unexpected vegans too.
After buying a book ‘Asian Tofu’ by Andrea Nguyen, I decided to have a go at making it from scratch. The first time, it wasn’t a quick process, partly because the instructions in Andrea’s book aren’t that clear.
- Nigiri (a seaweed/magnesium derivative, apparently available in Japanese supermarkets but I couldn’t find it)
- Gypsum (available, food-grade, at brewing places)
- Epsom Salts (available in chemists, but tends to make the tofu granular)