Tofu is a soy bean food product that is widely used in Japanese and other East Asian cuisine. It is typically made by coagulating soy milk (also known as 'soya milk') and pressing or shaping the resulting mixture into textured blocks. High in protein and iron, it is often used as a healthy/vegetarian alternative to meat and other proteins, but in many Asian countries it is also prized for its wide range of textures and delicate flavours. Although soy milk is by far the most popular choice for producing tofu, it can also be made with other ingredients, such as sesame seeds and almonds.
If you are curious about tofu calories and calorie content, you will be pleased to know that tofu is something of a 'win-win' food. Not only are the calories in tofu relatively low, but what calories there are are composed mainly of protein, iron, calcium, and polyunsaturated fats.
If you are now wondering where to buy tofu, look no further than Japan Centre. We have one of the biggest ranges of tofu UK-wide, with products including organic tofu, fried tofu, fresh tofu, premium tofu, sesame tofu, and more. And if you are thinking about cooking with tofu or are not sure how to use tofu in cooking, we also have one of the most detailed collections of easy Japanese tofu recipes UK-wide, including plenty of tofu recipes vegans and vegetarians can enjoy.
If you have ever heard the term 'silken tofu' before, you might have asked yourself 'what is silken tofu exactly?' or 'how is silken tofu different to other tofu?'. Silken tofu is tofu that looks like a smooth, silky block. It is widely available and often sold in tetra-paks (which do not need to be refrigerated before opening). The ingredients and initial production processes used to make silken tofu are similar to those used to make standard pressed tofu (which has a less glossy, more uneven appearance). Towards the end of the production process, the soy milk in silken tofu is left uncurdled (where it would be curdled in pressed tofu), and the blocks are left unpressed.
The smooth, custard-like look and feel of silken tofu comes with a delicate structure that requires gentler handling than pressed tofu. Although silken tofu comes in a range of consistencies (soft, medium, firm and extra firm) even the firmest silken tofu will be significantly softer than pressed tofu. While this means that some recipes using tofu will require more care if a silken variety is used, it also means silken tofu is uniquely suited to other applications, where its silky texture can shine.
Freeze-dried tofu was developed as a way of preserving this nutritious food. It is made by repeatedly freezing and thawing tofu until all the water has been extracted. Dried tofu is a staple in most Japanese larders as it can be stored long-term at room temperature. A five-minute soak in warm water is all that is needed to rehydrate the tofu pieces, which can then be used just like regular tofu.
Dried tofu offers more than just easy storage. It also has a texture that is quite different to fresh tofu and excels in a number of cooking applications. After soaking, the tofu retains a hearty, dense structure and will not break down in the way even the firmest of fresh tofu can when subjected to high heat and rough handling. This makes it particularly suitable for sautéing or stir-frying, but it really comes into its own when the special chew of dried tofu is showcased.Try combining dried tofu with mashed edamame soy beans for a hearty, meaty veggie burger. Alternatively, cover dried tofu in batter and deep-fry for tempting tempura bites.
The other interesting feature of dried tofu is that it is unsurpassed at soaking up marinades and other liquids. As all the water has been removed during processing, it is much easier to get flavourings right into the centre of the tofu, making it a wonderfully receptive sponge for whatever seasonings you think would best suit your dish. This also means it is particularly suited to simmering in soups and other brothy dishes, where it can absorb remarkable flavour while it cooks.
You can also grate dried tofu or blend it to a powder and use the resulting mixture as a protein-rich, gluten-free alternative to breadcrumbs or other binders. As it has considerable absorption powers it will soak up any excess moisture in these dishes making it excellent provision against unwanted sogginess.
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This Nagasaki speciality tofu is based on recipes traditionally prepared by Buddhist monks, who favoured delicately flavoured dishes prepared with great care and precision. Typically served with a drizzle of brown sugar syrup and a sprinkle of kinako flour (roasted soya bean flour), this tofu can also be blended into a luscious, silky purée which adds a beautifully nutty, creamy sweetness to healthy desserts. When blended it takes on a gorgeous, shiny, pinky hue and can be used as a nutritious spread or filling.
Naturally sweet, made with lightly roasted sesame seed paste and soya beans, it is lightly set with a little jiggle in its natural state.
Otokomae are a young, Kyoto based company that have exploded in popularity throughout Japan, shaking up the traditional tofu market.
Otokomae owner, who has affectionately become known as ‘Johnny’ says: “When I started my tofu business in Kyoto, I knew that I couldn’t compete with the so-called “shinise” or long-established tofu shops in Kyoto. I wanted to make a tofu that tasted different, and I successfully achieved the taste I wanted to produce after a lot of research and testing. I then thought that it would be a pity to sell this great tofu with general boring name.”
The maverick nicknamed ‘Johnny’ came up with ‘Otokomae’, which generally translates as “cool” or “handsome guy” tofu. So what sets this tofu brand apart from the rest?
Fresh. Otokomae products are as fresh as it gets in the world of tofu. Silky texture. These ultra-cool tofu distributers choose the best soy beans and a fine combination of sea-water and fresh water to create the super silky texture. Loved in Japan. Whilst other tofu companies decline in popularity, Otokomae is doing better than ever – a testament to its superior quality. Looks cool in the fridge. You don’t want to be looking at boring old packaging when fridge-gazing do you? Fill it with Otokomae and be dazzled.
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Recipes & content about tofu courtesy of Great British Chefs