What is Tofu and is it Healthy?

Tofu has always been the staple food in Asian cuisine since ancient times because of its taste and nutritional value. It is an important source of protein from soybean, especially for vegans and vegetarians. No wonder that now it is also a popular ingredient used in Western vegetarian dishes.

Before adding tofu in your daily diet, it is better to know about this ingredient and its health benefits. In this article, we also include a recipe to make homemade tofu under the advice from actual tofu store in Japan. Plus, you can learn some delicious recipes to make tofu dishes in your kitchen.

Be thrilled! Because you are about to learn another superfood that is perfect for your health.


What is Tofu

tofu_soybean

Tofu (or bean curd) is a food made by coagulating soy milk by pressing it using weight, resulting in solid white blocks of tofu with many varieties of softness. The softness consistency can be soft, silken, soft, firm, or extra firm.

Recently, tofu is popularly consumed by people around the world for its taste, health benefits and nutritions. It has been increasingly used in lots of culinary dishes to replace dairy products due to its high protein content and low product cost.

Because tofu is made with soybeans, it is rich in protein, calcium, magnesium, iron, pottasium, and phosphorous. According to studies, consuming tofu can lower certain chronic diseases like cancer (prostate cancer and breast cancer), cardiovascular diseases and osteoporosis.

tofu_dishes_variety

From left to right: Miso soup with tofu, Hiyayakko (冷奴) or cold tofu, and Nabe (hot pot) dish with tofu.


This food has subtle and tasteless flavor. That is why tofu is suitable for all sorts of taste as it is an extremely versatile ingredient. You can marinate, seasoned, grilled, fried, or baked tofu to suit any dish you want to make. Not only because of its flavor, but tofu's wide variation of softness also make tofu flexible to use for any types of dishes.

To specify, firm tofu is perfect for stir-fry dishes because it can maintain its shape. While silken tofu is soft, so it's ideal for making desserts. Extra-firm tofus are best for baking, grilling and stir-fries, while soft tofu is suitable for sauces, desserts, shakes and salad dressings.

In Japan, tofu is very popular. Many Japanese foods such as miso soup, or hot pot dishes are often to use tofu as one of its ingredients.

Because tofu is delicious for many types of dishes, there are so many recommended recipe for tofu dishes. In this article, you can learn the recipe for Baked Tofu, Mapo Tofu, and Tofu Scramble. Please try to make one at home by all means!

Tofu History


tofu_history

Tofu is so popular nowadays, but it was first used in China during The Han Dynasty over 2000 years ago. The production method was then introduced to Japan during the Nara Period (710 - 794). Later then, it spread to other parts of Southeast Asia and also around the world as well.

In China, tofu was used as food offering when visiting graves of decreased relatives. The name "tofu" comes from Chinese equivalent 豆腐 (dòufu), literally "bean" (豆) and "curdled or fermented" (腐).

After tofu was introduced in Japan, Buddhist monks used tofu as a vegetarian substitute for protein intake, especially from meat and fish. It gradually became popular among nobility and the samurai class.

Tofu has always been the staple food in Asian cuisine since ancient times because of its taste and nutritional value. Now, it is also a popular ingredient used in Western vegetarian dishes.

How to Choose and Store Tofu


tofu_water

Tofu comes in different package size from bulk to individual packages.

No matter what kind of tofu they are, it is sealed tight in a container. Therefore, make sure the tofu tightly sealed when you buy a tofu.

In the supermarket, tofu is kept near the refrigerated section. It is usually placed near cheese, or yogurt. Or you can find it around the vegetarian aisle.

To tell when the tofu has gone bad, let's rely on our sense. Some common traits of bad tofu is their color, smell, and taste. Bad tofu will change in color away from white toward a deeper tan. Fresh tofu also does not smell and taste sour. So if the tofu starts to smell and taste sour, please discard it.

cutting_tofu

Here's what you need to know about storing tofu leftovers so they will not go bad easily.

The normal commercial shelf life of tofu is 1-2 days in normal temperature, and around 11-12 days in refrigerated temperature.

Generally, all kinds of tofu have the same storing method. If you plan to use it within a week, store it in the refrigerator. But if it's longer than a week, go store it in the freezer. You need to be certain when you want to use the leftovers to decide which is the best place to store tofu.


● How to Store Tofu in The Refrigerator

When storing the tofu in the refrigerator, make sure to rinse the tofu first. Put it in a container covered with clean and filtered water, and seal the container. To keep it fresh and moist for a week or so, don't forget to change the water daily.


● How to Store Tofu in The Freezer

Storing tofu in the freezer will make it last for up to three months after the original container was opened. To store it in the freezer, cut the tofu into chunks and freeze it on parchment-lined baking sheet until solid. Transfer the frozen tofu into an airtight container or a bag. When you want to use it, defroze in the refrigerator and squeeze out any excess liquid before cooking.

Learn The Tofu's Health Benefits!

tofu_health_benefits

it is rich in protein, calcium, magnesium, iron, pottasium, and phosphorous. According to studies, consuming tofu can lower certain chronic diseases like cancer (colon cancer, prostate cancer, and breast cancer), cardiovascular diseases and osteoporosis.

Tofu's Calories & Nutrients




Tofu's Health Benefits


Tofu offers so many health benefits that could guide you to have a healthier life. Some research states that diseases such as prostate cancer and breast cancer diagnostics and death are majority found in Western countries, where the people are consuming less tofu.

Below are the health benefits you can obtain from consuming tofu:


Health Benefit 1 Lowering The Risk of Prostate and Breast Cancer

lower_cancer_risk

According to a study, consumption of soy protein may affect prostate-specific antigen (PSA) for cancer patients but not in normal subjects. So, it could decrease the risk of prostate cancer.

Tofu also has protective effects against breast cancer, because the isoflavones in soy have antioxidant properties and can perform the estrogenic activity that may inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

 

Health Benefit 2 Decreasing The Risk of Heart Disease

lower_heart_disease

Tofu is naturally gluten-free, with less saturated fat and contains no cholesterol. Therefore, tofu can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by decreasing the levels of bad cholesterol in the body.

Based on a study, it has been approved in 9 countries since 1996 that there is a possible association between consuming soy protein and the reduced blood cholesterol level or the risk of heart disease.

 

Health Benefit 3 Help to Prevent Osteoporosis

osteoporosis

An adequate amount of calcium for elderly people (roughly lower than 1000 mg per day) may prevent the risk of osteoporosis. Tofu that is rich in calcium can be the right solution that helps prevent bone loss and osteoporotic fractures in elderly people.

 

Health Benefit 4 Relief Menopause Symptoms

hot_flashes

Consuming soy products may help to relief menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes, and the risk of high bone loss related to menopause.

While menopause symptoms may differ in each country, more than two-thirds of North American women who are heading into menopause have experienced hot flashes. But it is not a common symptom for Asian women, where people tend to consume more soy.

 

How to Make Tofu


Have you ever wondered how to make tofu? Instead of buying tofu at supermarkets, you can make homemade tofu easily in your home.

Making tofu is not difficult if you keep the temperature and procedures firmly. Freshly made tofu have deliciousness that can not be found when you normally buy tofu from supermarket or other sources. You could freely make the tofu with your ingredient preference, and adjust the tofu's firmness to your liking.


Below is the link for "How to Make Tofu" article by Kawashima The Japan Store. The recipe to make tofu is under the advice from actual tofu store in Japan. It would be nice if this article can be one of your preference for making tofu.

Go go the page "How To Make Tofu (Kawashimaya Version)"

Delicious Tofu Recipes

Tofu is healthy and delicious ingredient that can be enjoy both for vegan and non-vegan.

Cooking using tofu won't bore you because you have so many options to turn tofu into delicious dishes.

In this article, let's learn how to make some delicious tofu recipes!


Baked Tofu

Baked tofu is a simple, crispy, and easy-to-make healthy snack with amazing and authentic taste from tofu. It doesn’t require much oil because it is baked. Medium firm to firm tofu is recommended for this recipe.
Ingredients2serving
Cooking Time40minutes
baked_tofu

 Ingredients

• Medium to firm tofu, cubed
300g
• Extra virgin olive oil (optional)
1 tsp
• Cornstarch
2 tsp or at your liking
• Soy sauce (seasoning)
1 tbsp
• Garlic powder (seasoning)
½ tsp
• Black pepper powder (seasoning)
½ tsp
• Oyster sauce (seasoning, optional)
1 tbsp

 Steps

1
Preheat the oven to 400ºF or 200ºC.
2
Add tofu cubes, soy sauce, oyster sauce, garlic powder, and black pepper powder into a bowl. Mix until combined and let it marinated for at least 5 minutes.
3
Drain the tofu and add cornstarch to coat. If you want your tofu cubes super crispy, you can add more cornstarch up to 5-6 tbsp.
4
Place the tofu cubes onto a lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Flip each tofu cubes so they can cooked evenly and bake for another 15 minutes or until golden brown.
5
Enjoy !


Mapo Tofu

Mapo tofu is very popular recipe for tofu. It is originally a Chinese food recipe that cooked in a spicy and oily chili—bean-based paste, which leads to this food’s bright red color. Use silken tofu and enjoy the soft texture of the dish!
Ingredients4servings
Cooking Time35minutes
mapotofu

 Ingredients

• Silken tofu, cubed into about 1 inch each
400g
• Garlic, minced
2 cloves
• Ginger, minced
1 inch = 2.5 cm
• Green onions/scallions
2
• Oil (Vegetable oil or rapeseed oil)
1 tbsp
• Grounded meat (can be pork, chicken, beef) or vegetable (at your choice)
½ lb = 227 g

mapotofu_2

 Seasonings

• Doubanjiang (spicy chili bean sauce/broad bean paste)
2 ½ tbsp
• Mirin
2 tbsp
• Miso
1 tbsp
• Oyster sauce
1 tbsp
• Soy sauce
½ tbsp
• Sesame oil
1 tsp
• Corn starch
1 tsp
• Water
4 tbsp

 Steps

1
Combine all the seasonings ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
2
Cut the green onions/scallions into small pieces for sprinkle later.
3
Heat the oil in medium or large frying pan on a medium heat. Saute the garlic and ginger, and make sure it doesn’t burn. Once they are fragnant, add the grounded meat and break it with spatula.
4
When the meat is no longer pink, add the seasoning mixture to the frying pan and mix well.
5
Once the sauce is boiling, add tofu and stir well without mashing up the tofu, until it is heated through.
6
Serve immediately in a plate, and sprinkled it with the green onions. Enjoy!


Tofu Scramble

A healthy, and vegan breakfast menu with an eggy texture that has a super close taste with scrambled eggs. Use black salt (Kala Namak) to have your tofu resembles the taste of real egg. Why not try to add this menu for your breakfast?
Ingredients2servings
Cooking Time15minutes
tofu_scramble

 Ingredients

• Firm tofu
220 g
• Butter / Vegan Butter
1 tbsp
• Black salt (Kala Namak)
¼ tsp
• Turmeric
½ tsp
• Garlic Powder
½ tsp
• Black pepper
a pinch
• Soy milk
80 ml
• Tomato, sliced
1
• Chili, sliced
1

 Steps

1
Mash the firm tofu with a fork. Leave some nice big chunks to enjoy the texture.
2
Put the black salt (Kala Namak), turmeric, and garlic powder into a bowl. Add soy milk and whisk them together to have a good sauce.
3
Heat up a frying pan with vegan butter in medium heat. Add the tofu and fry it until lightly brown color. Be careful to not stir and break the tofu too much.
4
Pour the sauce into the tofu and fold it in. Fry it until the tofu scramble reaches your desired consistency (wet to dry).
5
Transfer the dish into a plate and top with black pepper, and serve with some sliced tomatoes and chili.

Recommended Products for Tofu


Yes, consuming tofu is definitely healthy for your body. It has a subtle taste which is flexible for many types of dishes.

The finest homemade tofu is made with organic ingredients. If you are interested to make your own homemade tofu, we have some recommended ingredients for you! Please check it by all means.




Sources:
Dey, A., Rasane, P., Kaur, S., & Singh, J. (2017). Tofu: technological and nutritional potential, 36, 18.
Ware, Megan. (2017, September 27). Everything you need to know about tofu. Retrieved August 4, 2019, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/278340.php.
Wong, K. V. (2017). Tofu and Soy for Health Benefits, 2, 58–60.
Xiao, C. W. (2008). Health Effects of Soy Protein and Isoflavones in Humans. The Journal of Nutrition, 2006, 4–9.