I LOVE tofu. People always ask me what it is and why do I love it so much if it doesn't taste like anything. Tofu is a soybean product and it's made from the curds of soy milk,(think cheese and milk) by coagulating it, then pressing it into white blocks, also known as Tofu. It was first discovered in China, by accident! It is said that tofu has been around for over 2000 years.
Tofu is a complete protein source, which means it contains all eight essential amino acids. It is also full of calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, and vitamin B1. Tofu is believed to lower bad cholesterol (LDL).
When you go to the store you usually find three to four different types of tofu.
Soft/Silken tofu: I like using it in smoothies and puddings.
Firm Tofu: I usually buy this one when I can't find extra-firm tofu, it's just a personal preference and because extra firm tofu contains more protein.
Extra-Firm Tofu: I believe this one is the best when it comes to baking, grilling, and stir-fry recipes. As I mentioned, it has the most amount of protein but it also has the highest amount of calories but don't let that stop you. It's very filling and the texture is chewier and it doesn't break off while cooking it.
Sprouted Tofu: Simply it's made out of sprouted soybeans, making it easier to digest. It usually contains more calories and more protein.
Why do I like tofu so much?
Besides the fact that it is full of protein and incredibly healthy, I love tofu because I can flavor it in any way I'd like. If I'm craving something sweet, I'll make a smoothie out of it without it leaving an aftertaste. I can never get bored of tofu, there's a million different way to eat it, mix it with different sauces and vegetables. I even added it to my oatmeal once for extra protein in the morning!
Tips on handling tofu:
In smoothies or when cooking, remove the tofu from the package, wash it with water and give it a squeeze to extract the extra water, then let it sit in a bowl for about 10 minutes. Discard the extra water then add the tofu to your food processor, blender, or cooking pan. For extra dry tofu (better when baking) try to add a heavy plate or something over the tofu to make it firmer and it'll result in a more textured tofu.
Where to buy Tofu:
First of all, let me say that you can make your own tofu.
In Saudi Arabia, you can find tofu in AlDanoob, Indonesian stores, Lulu supermarkets, and Carrefour. In grocery stores, I usually find it by the organic vegetables or imported vegetables. In the Indonesian store, I found it in the fridge in the back. Or just ask them where is the Tahu, which is tofu in Indonesian. It costs about 6 SR, at other grocery stores it costs at least 10 Riyals.
In the United States, my favorite tofu is the one I get from Trader Joe's. It doesn't have an aftertaste, making it perfect for smoothies.
When it comes to firm and extra-firm tofu, it doesn't make a huge different but I still prefer the ones at Trader Joe's because they don't have an aftertaste at all.
How to store Tofu:
After opening the package, rinse the tofu and place it in a container then cover it with water, and refrigerate up to a week, but make sure you change the water preferably every day. If you didn't open the package, you can freeze it up to five months.
Tips for beginners:
If you've never had tofu or you don't really like it, I suggested trying it at a restaurant a couple of times first, just ask your waiter what's the best dish with tofu in it. Then when you're used to it, you can start adding it to your salads and stir fry at home.
Note: Tofu is one of those foods that you want to buy organic. Soy is one of the most common genetically modified foods, and if it's not organic then it's very likely to be GMO. Look for organic and non-GMO labels when buying.