Regularly used in Asian dishes, tofu is inexpensive, nutritious and versatile. It's low in calories but high in protein, vitamins and minerals. In fact, just a half-cup of firm tofu has 181 calories, 16 grams of protein, 428 grams of calcium, no cholesterol and a very low glycemic index.
But what is it made of? Tofu, also known as bean curd, is made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the curds into soft, white blocks. This is very similar to the way cheese is made.
So, what are the kinds of tofu? Which is best for which recipe? How to prepare it?
Silken tofu (soft and creamy texture)
How to prepare: Open the container and drain any excess liquid.
How to use: Raw, blend into sauces or desserts, batter and fry.
Soft tofu (soft and delicate)
How to prepare: Open the container and drain any excess liquid. Place on a dish towel or stack of paper towels for about 10-15 minutes. Do not press.
How to use: Raw, puree, boil, batter and fry.
Firm tofu (most common and versatile)
How to prepare: Place a block of tofu between layers of dish towels or paper towels. Place something flat on top – a baking sheet works well – and weigh it down with a heavy item such as a canned good. Let the liquid drain, drying the tofu.
How to use: Fry, stuff, bake, boil or pan, stir or deep fry.
Extra firm tofu (most compact and sturdy)
How to prepare: Same as firm tofu.
How to use: Batter, bread, fry, bake, boil, pan, stir or deep fry.
Bonus points (firm and extra firm only)
Cut into chunks and freeze, using freezer bags. This preserves the tofu for later use and creates a perfect texture that soaks up marinades and sauces. Defrost in refrigerator, microwave or toss in boiling water.