Many people who have not yet tried tofu feel intimidated by cooking it for the first time. Tofu strikes many people as a specialty food that is not suitable for their palet, or that may be difficult to cook with. The truth is that nothing could be further from the truth. Tofu is a healthy substitute or addition for meat products, and great way to add easy bulk to a dish you already enjoy. Though it may sound a little exotic to you, tofu is actually one of the most simple and bland dishes that you can try. This makes it ideal for almost any eater, but particularly people with specialty diets, or very picky flavour palette.
Tofu has long been a mystery food to many people in different parts of the world, but as fitness and health have become a more primary focus for individuals and families around the world, the popularity of tofu, and the many ways it can be enjoyed, have grown hugely over the past decade. If you’re a fan of faste, flavourful, and healthy dishes - be sure to learn more about the taste of tofu below, to see how you might like to incorporate it into your own diet.
What does tofu taste like?
The short answer is, tofu can taste any way you desire. Tofu us the product of soybeans, made through a specialty process of gathering soymilk, and gathering curds. In this way, tofu is very similar to cheese - but has a vegetarian, rather than milk base. These curds tend to form and unprocessed, resemble cottage cheese. For sale and consumption, these curds are gathered, pressed, and processed - and resemble the tofu “blocks” that you are most familiar with.
Because tofu is a secondary product of soymilk, it has almost no taste of its own. The taste of tofu overall is bland, and anyone who is very sensitive to taste may be able to liken the mild taste to beans. On its own, and with no forethought - tofu is not really that appetizing, particularly since it comes packed in water to keep it hydrated.
Tofu begins as bland, but one of the best things about it is that tofu readily absorbs the taste and flavours of the sauces it is cooked with. Tofu can easily be added into a meal without changing the overall structure and texture, making it a perfect compliment, and easy add-on when cooking.
Are there different types of tofu?
There are a huge number of tofu makers around, and many brands - but the product that you are consuming is essentially the same - and made from the curds of soy milk.
You can purchase tofu that is essentially “plain” - unflavoured, and ready to be prepared as you like it. There are many other tofu makers who provide pre-flavoured tofus that are designed to be a specialty addition to easy-to-make dishes. When shopping for tofu, be sure to find varieties that are not too loaded with salt or preservatives. Though they may taste great, these varieties are less healthy - and may change the nutritional value of a meal.
Cooking with tofu
Tofu is the perfect addition for beginner cooks, mainly because there is no real risk to your health if you undercook it. With meats, you need to be very careful to thoroughly and evenly heat your food, but tofu is safe and edible even raw - making it a wonderful practice dish. When it comes to working with tofu, because it carries no flavour of its own, the real key to success is being sure to add the flavour you like, and learning your preferred texture for tofu. Once you’ve learned this, you’ll be able to time your recipes to be sure you get the perfect flavour and texture.
Tofu is rich in protein. Many vegetarians, vegans, and those looking to cut down on their meat intake have taken to adding more tofu to their diets as a substitute. This popularity is based in the fact that tofu is so flexible, tasting great in stir fries, curries, pad thai, and other dishes that call for bold, uniform flavour that tofu can absorb.
Most people consider tofu to be a main course meal, but some people have even learned to incorporate it into their deserts. Because tofu provides you with a blank palet to work with, the possibilities are endless. It is a wonderful staple to have in your refrigerator to help you be prepared to cook healthy, balanced meals.
Flavouring tofu is something that is both simple and complex. Anyone who has a basic understanding of cooking, flavouring, and working with bland foods will have no problem working with tofu. If flavouring is a bit of a mystery to you, there are many recipes, and even pre-packaged sauces you can rely on to help you create the perfect tofu-based meal.
If you are a beginner chef or cooking with tofu for the first time, there are a couple of approaches we recommend you take. The first is to consider adding tofu to a dish that you already know and love. If you often make chicken based stir fry for example, try adding tofu or even replacing chicken with tofu the next time you prepare it. Learning to cook with tofu while using a familiar and beloved recipe will help you understand how it cooks, how it compliments your diet, and how to adjust a recipe to suit tofu.
The other option for beginner cooks is to rely on the many pre-made sauces that will help you to master the art of stir fries, curries, and pad thais. Sometimes, learning to work with an entirely new slate of flavours in addition to an entirely new food can be overwhelming, and it can be difficult to improve a recipe when every element is new to you.
Classic Tofu Flavours
Tofu is used in a variety of dishes from around the world, and is most common and popular in dishes like soup and curry. These dishes tend to spice and flavour food uniformly, bringing them all together in one combination - and tofu is the perfect food to blend seamlessly into these recipes. Tofu based curry, soup, stir fry, noodles, and salads are all popular. Though it may be difficult to imagine how you’ll cook with tofu, you can easily picture it in many dishes where you might normally use chicken or beef.
Some of the most common tofu-style dishes include:
Pad Thai with Tofu: Tofu provides a crispy, delicious addition to this noodle dish that can be served as sweet, savoury, or a delicious combination of both
Green curry with tofu: This fresh, delicious thai-inspired green curry is an easy and delicious way to pop tofu into your daily meals
Spicy tofu stir fry: This easy to master recipe is perfect for chefs who are looking for quick and easy flavour, and balanced nutrition. The trickiest part of this recipe is making sure you don’t make it too spicy to eat
Once you’ve cooked with tofu a few times, you’ll begin to get a feel for what flavours and textures suit you best. Over time, you’ll be able to build tofu into any of your trustworthy recipes, and will even begin to develop your own recipes.
Tofu for dessert
Tofu is primarily eaten as a staple to compliment main-dishes, but many innovative chefs around the world have also found ways to create delicious desserts from tofu. It may be hard to imagine, but tofu can add wonderful texture to a desert, without adding much taste. It is also a great way to make dessert recipes vegan- and vegetarian-friendly.
If you’d like try try tofu that’s been made a bit sweeter, you can try your hand at creme brulee, strawberry mousse, peanut butter pie, imitation cheesecake, and even smoothies! Vegetarian and vegan chefs who struggle with getting the perfect texture in their baked goods will look how easy it is to experiment with tofu to create delicious desserts that anyone can enjoy.