Are you eager to learn more about tofu?
Whether you're a vegetarian, vegan, or general tofu aficionado, this food product is endlessly fascinating. An authentic soybean product, tofu is making its mark on world diets everywhere.
Tofu has long been lauded as a staple of Asian cuisine, but there's more to this bean curd than meets the eye!
In this post, we discuss ten tofu facts that are bound to intrigue. Learn more about tofu's history, origin, and manufacture.
Read on for insight!
1. Tofu is a Japanese Term
The name "tofu" is believed to stem from the Mandarin word doufu. Yet while tofu first originated in China, the term "tofu" is, in fact, Japanese.
This makes a lot of sense, given tofu's impact on all Asian cuisine. Tofu appears prominently in Chinese and Japanese cuisine, and "tofu" literally translates to curdled beans.
2. Tofu is Made of Soybeans
Tofu is essentially the result of curdled soybeans. That may sound unappetizing, but this is actually no different than cheese! (See Fact #4).
Soybeans have long been revered for their distinct nutty flavor and high protein content. The best tofu is crafted from organic, non-GMO soybeans such as those available here at Laura Soybeans.
Soybeans are rich in nutrients, particularly Vitamin B1 and isoflavones. These mighty beans also appear in soy milk and other dairy alternatives.
3. It is An Ancient Substance
While it's hard to pinpoint exactly who invented tofu, most scholars and historians agree that this substance has been around for thousands of years. That's right: thousands!
Legend posits that Prince Liu An of the Han Dynasty (179-122 BC) first invented tofu in China (over 2,000 years ago!). Other people have mused that tofu originated in attempts at rivaling Mongolian dairy-milk production.
When you savor some truly authentic tofu, you're savoring something that was once a staple of ancient diets!
4. Tofu is Made Like Cheese
Did you know that tofu is actually made from soy milk? Its manufacturing process is very similar to the production of cheese, which is essentially curdled dairy milk.
When tofu is made, specific coagulants are added to soy milk in order to generate solid soy "curds." In ancient times, these coagulants were often sourced from seawater. Today, manufacturers typically use magnesium chloride to coagulate soy milk.
After soy curdles are achieved, they are pressed into blocks. Some manufacturers "age" these blocks much as you would age cheese. These blocks are either stored in water or packaged in air-tight containers for sale in grocery stores.
5. There Are Different Types of Tofu
That's right--no tofu product is the same! Every manufacturer will produce a different type of tofu, depending on the soybeans used and the aging process.
In general, however, tofu will vary depending on its firmness. Silken tofu, for example, has a soft cheese-like consistency. Extra firm tofu is similar to hard cheese or even cooked meats.
This means that tofu is very versatile when it comes to cooking a variety of dishes. This is why it is such a good alternative for meats and dairy products.
6. Tofu Changes When Frozen
Tofu is packed with water. In fact, it should be stored in water if purchased in bulk (or if you've only used part of a tofu package).
When you freeze tofu, its structure changes accordingly. Its water content freezes, resulting in a speckled and hole-riddled texture. Defrosted tofu may even result in rubbery textures.
For this reason, we recommend using only refrigerated tofu. Keep in mind that tofu stores well in water for up to a week in the refrigerator.
7. Store Tofu in Water
Did we mention that tofu should be stored in water? That's right! Keeping your leftover tofu (uncooked) submerged in water will ensure it stays fresh. Otherwise, your tofu may dry out and even start to go off.
If you use part of a container of tofu, slip the remainder into a sealed container and submerge in tap water. Some people like to submerge leftover tofu in saltwater brine.
8. Tofu is Not Just for Vegans
While tofu gives vegans and vegetarians an excellent meat and dairy alternative, it is not just for the meat-averse.
Tofu is used widely across cultures that may or may not emphasize vegetarian cuisine. It appears next to meat dishes in Asian restaurants, and many meat-eaters may appreciate tofu dishes.
A lot of meat-eaters may complain that tofu isn't that delicious. But you can actually find incredible recipes that ensure tofu packs a lot of flavor!
9. You Can Make Your Own Tofu
While it may feel easier to purchase your tofu from a grocery store, you can actually make it yourself! The process is a bit involved, but provided you have great soybeans at the ready, you can easily make non-GMO tofu in the comfort of your home.
We recommend brushing up on your soy milk making abilities first. After all, tofu does come from soy milk! Learn more about that here.
10. Tofu is Packed with Protein
Lastly, let's not forget all that tofu offers its eaters. Tofu is packed with all nine amino acids, meaning that you can meet your daily recommended value of protein by consuming this soy product.
In addition to protein, tofu is also laden with iron, calcium, copper, and zinc.
This is a vital point to make, because many plant-based dieters struggle to get adequate protein every day.
Tofu is a delicious byproduct of soymilk, and it plays an essential role in many vegetarian and vegan diets today. Although it originated over 2,000 years ago in China, it is still a huge component of Asian and Western cuisine.
Packed with protein and other essential nutrients, tofu is essentially the result of curdled soybeans. You can make your own tofu at home or choose from many different varieties at your local grocery store.
Add tofu to your dishes even if you don't follow a fully plant-based diet!
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