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Old 10-05-2006, 08:53 AM   #1
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ISO Intro to Tofu

I've never cooked with tofu and only eaten it a couple of times, but I'd like to start incorporating it into our diets more. Can anyone give me some tips on how to buy it and how to prepare it? For DH, I think it'll need to be "hidden" in meals, to start. For my daughter, since she's only 10.5 mo, it needs to be plain. I'm thinking she'd enjoy eating little pieces of it as finger food. How would I cook it for her, or do I even need to cook it?

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Old 10-06-2006, 08:05 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PA Baker
I've never cooked with tofu and only eaten it a couple of times, but I'd like to start incorporating it into our diets more. Can anyone give me some tips on how to buy it and how to prepare it? For DH, I think it'll need to be "hidden" in meals, to start. For my daughter, since she's only 10.5 mo, it needs to be plain. I'm thinking she'd enjoy eating little pieces of it as finger food. How would I cook it for her, or do I even need to cook it?
Tofu is already cooked. It only needs to be reheated, so add it to dishes at the last minute just long enough to heat it up. It is very bland and goes well with many foods.

Storage: store in container in the 'frig, covered completely with cold water. Change water completely about every 3 days (however, tofu really should be eaten within a few days of purchase for best taste). Supermarket tofu is sold in packages containing water, but you should open the package and replace the water when you get it home.

re daughter: check with pediatrician first about giving her tofu (I'm thinking I read something a long time ago about introducting tofu to very young children and maybe they needed to be a certain age???...). If ok, it would make great finger food. Here's a link about tofu for babies http://www.wholesomebabyfood.com/tofu.htm

Mashing tofu and mixing it with other mashed stuff (even hamburger or meatballs) is one way to hide it, but basically I don't believe in trying to disguise food so if DH won't eat it, too bad. For baby, if you make your own mashed veggies for her, just add a little tofu to the mix.

What kind of cooking do you do? Then we could target recipes for you. Obviously, it is a good addition to almost any kind of stir-fry dish. It is also great in soups. (My kids would eat tofu if I put it in chicken noodle soup which they loved). Add it to stews. Its so bland it is very versatile.
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Old 10-06-2006, 08:37 AM   #3
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you could drop tofu from a crane on new year's eve...

believe it or not, tofu fried in garlic and hot pepper oil, then tossed with browned onions, diced zucchini, and sliced peppers in tomato sauce is pretty good. if mr. baker likes garlic, and/or hot stuff, go heavy on those to give the tofu and sauce good flavor.

and it can be used mixed with ricotta in lasagna, or any recipe that calls for ricotta.

and of course, it always goes with "any veggie in the fridge" stir fry.
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Old 10-06-2006, 08:44 AM   #4
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The firm can take a longish cook if you're not moving it around too much. It absorbs more flavor that way.

Another fun thing to do with it is to cut firm tofu in slabs about 1/2 inch thick. Then freeze them. When you're ready to cook, thaw them out and squeeze them like a sponge. Marinate them as you would meat, cut them up in cubes or strips. YOu'll be left with a fine sponge-like mass that's firmer and more meat like in texture than normal tofu.

Somewhere I've seen a recipe for a tofu Reuben sandwich. As I recall the tofu was marinated in Bragg's Aminos. I'll post it if I can find it.

if you have an Asian market, there ae bottled tofu products that are fermented and spiced. Those are interesting too.
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Old 10-06-2006, 09:39 AM   #5
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I found the recipe finally. You can find Braggs Aminos in health food stores, or even the health food section of many grocery stores.

Slice the firm tofu in thick slices, is best with tofu that's been frozen and squeezed. Sprinkle generously with Braggs' and marinate for 15-20 minutes. Roast on a baking sheet (spray with cooking spray, the stuff sticks) at 425F for 25-30 minutes, turning occasionally until edges are golden brown.

Then assemble sandwiches with caraway rye bread, Russian dressing, Swiss cheese slices, sauerkraut and the prepared tofu. Brush bread with melted butter and toast on a griddle as you would a grilled cheese sandwich.

This marinade is also good with tofu:
Try the same treatment with a marinade of 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup rice vinegar and 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger.
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Old 10-06-2006, 10:27 AM   #6
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Don't be skeeered to try tofu - you can use it in so many things! A few tips and some recipes, below -

- If you're going to fry it, place it on a plate covered with paper towels, another layer on top, and a heavy plate over that, to get some of the moisture out of the tofu. Also, try and find the 'extra-firm' or firm.

A real Japanese 'treat' is to do the above, then coat 1/2 inch slices of the tofu in flour, and fry on each side til golden brown. Then top with some scallion, soy sauce, (traditionally) bonito flakes, maybe a little grated ginger.

The different textures of tofu go with different foods; the firm/extra-firm as above; firm/medium to cut in chunks and use in soups and stews; and then there is the 'silken' or really smooth tofu, which is great when whizzed into a sauce or dip.

TOFU/SUNDRIED TOMATO DIP
10 sun dried tomatoes
2 roasted red bell peppers
1 large cloves garlic
1-2 canned chipotle chiles
1 15oz. can white beans
5 oz. firm silken tofu
1tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
cup olive oil
Salt/pepper to taste.

Soak tomatoes in just enough water to cover til soft, about 30 minutes; squeeze to remove as much moisture as possible; chop coarsely.
In food processor, combine tomatoes with red peppers, garlic,and chiles; process to a puree; add beans and process til combined. Add tofu, cumin and oregano and process til well blended. Slowly add olive oil in a thin stream, blending well. May be stored refrigerated, two days. Serve with raw vegetables, breadsticks, or pita or tortilla chips.
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Old 10-06-2006, 10:41 AM   #7
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If it needs to be hidden, best to maybe try using the silken tofu to incorporate into dips and salad dressings. And also a great way to get people to be more open to tofu is to get the deep fried tofu. If you have an Asian store close, pick a package up. It can come in little cubes or larger pieces. You can also fry it up yourself, but that's too much work for me.

Couple ideas that are yummy. If you can get the pre-deep fried stuff, use a knife to poke a slit on one side and stuff ground shrimp in (season the shrimp) and then pan fry it again to cook the shrim. I've even tossed it on the grill to cook. Family will love it.

Or take the firm tofu and cut it into very large cubes, big enough to butterfly. And take the cube, cut half way through and then stuff with pork. Pan fry this til meat is cooked and then use fresh or canned tomato to make a tomato sauce, season as needed. Eat with rice.
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Old 10-06-2006, 02:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buckytom
you could drop tofu from a crane on new year's eve...
LOL, Bucky! Can you believe no one drops tofu around here? Goats, donuts, wrenches, bologna, yes, but not tofu! One of these years your family will have to come here to experience it for yourselves!

Thanks, everyone, for your great tips and ideas. I think I'll be putting them all to use!
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Old 10-06-2006, 03:23 PM   #9
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tofu REALLY benefits from marinades. Tofu has a flavor that I would try dearly to mask. It is bland, but the tofu I am used to needs to have that flavor overridden. Soy sauce is good, saute with onions or garlic, as well as the other excellent suggestions already given.

I used to work at a bakery that would add a bit to their ww bread. The owner who developed most of the recipes used there, said the tofu was hygroscopic, just like honey is, and would help keep the breads fresher longer. Now the batches of bread I made was a 30 loaf batch and maybe a couple of pounds of tofu was added, so maybe just a T. per loaf would work.

I used to trade goats milk for home made tofu. When she stopped making it, I stopped eating it.
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Old 10-06-2006, 05:04 PM   #10
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LOL, Bucky Tom!
I once threw a bucket of Tofu off the top of the Empire State Building...
and got arrested for discarding litter!!

If you didn't know, I'm a 97.5% vegetarian; ie, I occasionally eat a bit of chicken or a shrimp. I've tried tofu boiled, in soup, fried, marinated, stuffed, fermented.... and I can honestly say it tastes of nothing. It is a non-element in my cooking.

That doesn't mean you can't use it, of course! I came to an agreement with myself not to buy any more tofu, but that's a personal thing. I'd rather use paneer (Indian cheese), which at least has a little more texture to it.

Any criticisms will be warmly received. You cannot imagine how much I WANT to enjoy tofu - but in 15 years, I've been disappointed again and again!!!
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Old 10-06-2006, 05:25 PM   #11
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I'm with you cliveb. I've never had tofu prepared in a manner that I cared for. It just seemed like a tough white eraser with stuff on it or marinated in stuff. Whatever.

When my youngest sister was in her late 20s, she went through her "I'm gonna eat healthy and be a vegetarian phase." She must've gone through tons of tofu but always prepared the same way. She wasn't very creative, plus it was maddening when she went grocery shopping with me. Everything I put in my cart was reviewed and critiqued by her. You have no idea how frustrating it can be to have someone editing your groceries as you shop. But I stray from the subject.

I've tried to like tofu but just haven't been successful to date.
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Old 10-06-2006, 07:45 PM   #12
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Interesting discussion. I have had tofu at a Thai resto. I think it was deep fried, and had no discernable taste, but the texture was brilliant. It was very crunchy, and I loved it. It was crunchy all the way thru. I have no idea how to prepare this offering, and hope someone can tell me. I don't know why I liked it so much, but truly, it was really great.
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Old 10-06-2006, 07:52 PM   #13
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Did you tell her to 'shut the rude word up'. She could get her own basket. I really can't stand it when the latest fad is visited on us. Although I always enjoyed my sisters cooking when she was going through her vegetarian phase.
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Old 10-15-2006, 10:41 PM   #14
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It's funny, what most people say about tofu, I used to say about meat, mostly because my family always overcooked the meat and bought whatever was on sale (-_-); So back when I thought meat was unchewable, I ate a lot of tofu. It always tasted pretty good to me, and I wasn't very creative back then (I was 16 and didn't really know how to cook at all) so I would always saute it with some vegetables and season with soy sauce. I think I remember adding a bit of sugar and paprika or some other red spicy thing? Hehe, it was so long ago ^.^;; I remember liking it, but I'm not sure if that's because it was really good or if I just didn't know any better. Since then I've always lived with guys who didn't want to give tofu a try so I've forgotten how to eat like a vegetarian. Sometimes I get nostalgic. I'm a little worried that if I eat tofu like before, I won't be as great as I remember it : P
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Old 10-16-2006, 07:25 AM   #15
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I love tofu. I usually start people with tofu smoothies. Silken tofu, orange juice, some berries, a banana, a bit of honey, and some nutmeg. That has to be one of the most healthy things you can possibly slurp down. Tastes incredible too. The tofu gives it body, a luxurious texture, and a butt-load of protein.

I also love Miso soup loaded with 1/2" cubes of firm tofu.

Stir fried tofu has an amazing texture. It gets a crispy/chewy thin exterior layer, and molten insides. I love hot and spicy sichuan tofu dishes.

You can also add 1/2" cubes to various noodle dishes like sesame noodles. Just make sure there is a bit extra dressing for the tofu to soak up (speaking of which, I always press my tofu between some towels to remove water. Then it reabsorbs liquid in whatever dish you add it to.

Mapo Dofu is my absolute favorite tofu preparation. The sauce is hot and savory and goes over some steamed rice. Only problem is I can't stop eating it until the pot is empty! Oh, this dish uses ground pork or beef along with the hunks of tofu. I guess beef is traditional (oddly enough), but I prefer ground pork.
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Old 10-16-2006, 09:21 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cliveb
LOL, Bucky Tom!
I once threw a bucket of Tofu off the top of the Empire State Building...
and got arrested for discarding litter!!

If you didn't know, I'm a 97.5% vegetarian; ie, I occasionally eat a bit of chicken or a shrimp. I've tried tofu boiled, in soup, fried, marinated, stuffed, fermented.... and I can honestly say it tastes of nothing. It is a non-element in my cooking.

That doesn't mean you can't use it, of course! I came to an agreement with myself not to buy any more tofu, but that's a personal thing. I'd rather use paneer (Indian cheese), which at least has a little more texture to it.

Any criticisms will be warmly received. You cannot imagine how much I WANT to enjoy tofu - but in 15 years, I've been disappointed again and again!!!
Oh Clive, you don't know what you are missing and here I am lamenting the fact that I cannot get hold of any type of tofu products.

For starters, there are many kinds of tofu (bean curd) - silken (soft), medium and firm, fermented, marinated (best used in porridge and as a flavouring in vegetables). As tofu is rather bland, it's best to use it in dishes that have sauces or have a robust taste.

For vegetarians like you, there are other tofu-related products like bean curd sticks/sheets used to garnish fried vermicelli, tempeh and soya cheese besides soya sauce and milk. The good thing about healthy soya products is that they are cholesterol-free.
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Old 10-23-2006, 12:36 AM   #17
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After reading this thread it made me want to eat tofu that night, so I bought some, and when I opened the package, the juice leaked everywhere, and it had the worst smell you can imagine. Rotten tofu. It was absolutely disgusting, and I had to take two showers to try to scrub the smell off of my arms. I would have returned it to the grocery store, but I couldn't bring anything that stinky into my car. (-_-);

Let me just say this didn't help me turn my husband into a tofu lover.
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Old 10-23-2006, 01:25 AM   #18
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I love tofu. It's a staple in my fridge. Here are some oriental ways of preparing it:

1. Deep fried silken tofu in tempura batter and dipped in tempura sauce, garnished with thinly sliced leeks.
2. Julienned firm tofu, fried till brown, then sauteed with pork strips, shallots and Chinese celery.
3. Deep fried thick slices of firm tofu. Dip in soy sauce with vinegar, minced garlic, chopped green onions.
4. Deep fried tofu skin, topped with sauce from oyster sauce and sugar, garnished with thinly sliced leeks.
5. Cubed silken tofu in miso soup.
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Old 10-23-2006, 05:38 AM   #19
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If you go with miso soup and you haven't tried it before it may take a couple of tries before you find a miso paste you like. I think tofu adds more of a texture than a taste and I cant imagine eating miso soup without it!
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Old 10-25-2006, 05:56 PM   #20
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I still insist that tofu is a pretty bland product. I've tried it in Miso soup, in Chinese soup, stir-fried, with eggs, stuffed... unfortunately we can't find additional Tofu products her easily, but there you are.
I'd never eat Tofu just because it was good for me; or anything else , for that matter!
The idea of mixing it with other things to give it a bit more flavour is a good one. Perhaps a little tau-si would bring it to life!
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