Have you been coming across tofu a lot these days and are wondering what it tastes like? Well, I’ve got all these answers for you. Tofu is made from soybean curd, which is a much loved and the go-to source of protein for people on vegan diets.
Tofu is a superfood that tastes mildly nutty and sour and doesn’t have an overpowering taste. Due to the nature of tofu, some people also call it tasteless. But that’s what makes tofu a versatile ingredient.
Depending on the recipe, you can mold its flavor into almost anything.Tofu fits as a perfect substitute for a protein-rich diet. It is found in the market in white block forms. Despite its mild, or as some people call it, bland taste, tofu can be eaten raw but tastes best when flavored.
So, now that you have an idea about what tofu is, let’s further understand how it can be cooked, what it can be paired with, and its nutritional benefits.
What Is Tofu?
While tofu might look boring and bland in taste, it is an ingredient that can be used in a variety of recipes. It was invented 2000 years ago in China and has been looked up to for its nutritional benefits.
Tofu is a popular plant-based protein which is made using soybeans that are ground in water, heated, and coagulated. The residual curd formed is then pressed into a block and sold as tofu.
Although Tofu is popular in east Asian cuisine, it has now become a popular item on restaurant menus around the world. You can buy tofu in different varieties that range from extra-soft silken tofu to extra-firm tofu.
What Does Tofu Taste Like?
Before being cooked, tofu has a mild nutty flavor that it derives from its source, soybeans. However, it is known as an absorber of flavors, which makes it a great ingredient to be used in many recipes.
In terms of texture, it comes in a variety of forms.Tofu is becoming a popular ingredient in many households’ kitchens and restaurant menus. That’s because there are numerous ways that it can be enjoyed. It’s not only a delicious addition to your recipes but also a healthy one.
Different Types Of Tofu And Their Taste
Over the years, Tofu has taken new forms and flavors which can be used in both sweet and savory recipes. Tofu expert and cookbook author Andrea Nguyen says, “Even though many people think that tofu is super bland, it’s a mighty little ingredient.”
It comes in a variety of textures, which can be used in several ways. Let’s find out the different varieties of tofu, its taste, and the ways to use it.
The 11 different types of tofu are:
- Soft or silken tofu
- Medium tofu
- Firm tofu
- Extra-firm tofu
- Tofu skin
- Tofu puffs
- Aburaage tofu
- Doufu Gan
- Smoked Tofu
- Fu Ru
- Tofu Noodles
With the wide varieties available in the market, let’s take a look at each of these varieties of tofu to have a better understanding of their taste and uses.
1. Soft or silken Tofu
Tofu which is not pressed after curdling is called soft tofu. It is delicate in nature and milky in taste and provides a creamy texture. This variety of tofu is not pressed and left to solidify in its packaging.
These characteristics of soft tofu make a great ingredient or alternative for dairy products and eggs. This type of tofu can be used in smoothies, puddings, desserts, eggs, pies, sauces, dressings, tarts, pasta, and shakes. It is also a wonderful ingredient to add to soups and can be substituted in recipes for eggs or yogurt.
2. Medium Tofu
Another variety of tofu available in the market is medium-firm tofu that has a mild and neutral taste and a higher water content. It has a rough clumpy texture but is still delicate in nature. It is more likely to break apart when cooking.
For the above-mentioned reason, medium tofu is best suited for cooking methods that don’t require much manipulation. You can use it for baking or salads. It is also popularly used in Japanese miso soup.
3. Firm Tofu
This variety of tofu is easy to find and handle as the residual curd is firm and rubbery in nature and holds itself well in recipes. Most firm varieties of tofu are used in the west. It can be used in stir-fries, grills, frying, or baking.
In addition, if you’re not planning on consuming it right away, you can easily freeze it.
4. Extra- Firm Tofu
Extra-firm tofu is dense in nature, chewy in texture, and contains very little water. This is the firmest variety of tofu that contains the highest amount of protein. It can be interchangeably used with cottage cheese or even meat dishes.
Upon cooking, these tofu pieces get nice and crispy. They are popularly used in pad thai noodles and curries.
5. Tofu skin
Tofu skin has a very mild taste, hence, it can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. It is an edible soy product that is made by collecting the skin that forms on the top of soy milk when traditional tofu is prepared. Tofu skin is thin and less dense than other tofu types and has a slightly chewy texture.
6. Tofu Puffs
Tofu puffs are deep-fried tofu cubes that are absorbent and chewy in nature. They taste a bit sour as compared to the other varieties.
Tofu puffs make the perfect ingredient in saucy dishes like broths, stews, and curries and can also be used in noodles, rice, and stir-fries. They are easily available in Asian markets or you could also make them at home by frying firm tofu in vegetable oil.
7. Aburaage Tofu
Aburaage tofu is a Japanese variety of tofu made from twice-fried soybeans, which have a mild flavor. This quality makes it easily absorb other flavors.
To make aburaage, thin slices of firm tofu are deep-fried until they expand in size. Once this step is done, the tofu is deep-fried a second time at a higher temperature to form a golden-brown crust. Deep-fried tofu or Aburaage tofu is best used for marination.
8. Doufu Gan
Doufu Gan or Tofu gan is a type of tofu which is braised in soy sauce and spices. It turns brown in color and is extremely flavorful. With its firm nature, you can use it as cubes or strips.
Doufu gan can be a great substitute for meat dishes and can also be enjoyed on its own.
9. Smoked Tofu
As the name suggests, smoked tofu has a bold smoky flavor and light hue. This type of tofu is made by smoking it in coal or tea leaves. It is dry and dense in texture, and you can barely see the curds.
It can be used in burgers, tortillas, kebabs, noodles, salads, wraps, and much more. You can buy smoked tofu from grocery stores or make it yourself using a smoker.
10. Fu Ru
Fu Ru is Chinese fermented tofu that has a potent salty taste. It is packed in jars with brine and diced into cubes. While it can be eaten straight out of the jar, it also makes for a great ingredient in sauces and dips.
11. Tofu Noodles
Tofu Noodles have a fairly neutral taste and are slightly chewy in texture. They are made using tofu and flour made from the konjac plant, which is a type of root vegetable that grows in China, Japan, and parts of Southeast Asia.
This type of tofu can be used in any dish where you are looking for a higher content of protein. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. You can use tofu noodles in stir-fries, broths, and as a replacement in any noodle recipes.
How To Tell If Tofu Is Fresh?
Generally, unopened tofu can be safely used for consumption for 2 to 3 months from the date of manufacturing. However, like any other edible item, tofu also comes with a shelf life which can easily be observed by a number of noticeable changes.
Firstly, check the expiration date on the package to be sure of its freshness. Secondly, check if the packaging is inflated. If it is, that means the tofu inside the package has gone bad.
Another way to be sure of tofu’s freshness is to check its color and smell. If the tofu in hand smells bad or has changed its color, it’s a good indicator to do away with it.
How To Store Tofu The Right Way?
As mentioned above, an unopened pack of tofu can be stored for 2 to 3 months from the date of manufacturing when refrigerated or preferably frozen. In contrast, an opened packet of tofu should be kept covered in filtered water and stored in a tightly sealed container. The water should also be changed daily to keep the tofu moist and fresh.
However, if you don’t plan to use the leftover tofu within a week after being opened, the best place to store it is in the freezer. Frozen tofu can last upto three months.
Does Tofu Taste Like Meat?
Tofu doesn’t taste like meat, however, you can make it taste like meat with various spices, as it is an excellent flavor absorbent. Tofu has a very mild taste, and most meats are rather bland if you cook them without any spices. Hence, tofu can work as a great substitute for meat.
To achieve a meaty taste, you can use tofu in meat-flavored sauces or just replace meat for tofu in curries and stews.
Is Tofu Healthier Than Meat?
Tofu can be a great substitute for meat if you are looking for an animal-free way of consuming proteins. However, the protein content will be slightly lower.
In addition to the protein content, tofu as a replacement for meat can work better as tofu contains only monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, that are the good kinds of fat.
Nutritional Content Of Tofu
Now that we know the many types of tofu that can be devoured let us also take a look at this superfood’s nutritional content.
Tofu is a plant-based protein that is the best option for a vegan diet. It is cholesterol-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and it is high in protein but low in fat, sodium, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. It provides health benefits like reduced risk of heart disease, prevents cancer, and is a great protein supplement.
|Nutrients||Per 100 Grams of Tofu|
If you are looking for a healthy and nutritious addition to your diet, then Tofu can be your go-to thing. Tofu, with its mild taste, makes for a versatile ingredient in several recipes as it’s a great absorbent of flavors. Its varied texture also helps in using tofu as a substitute for many recipes.
Being made from soybean curds, it is a great option for people on gluten-free diets. Its nutritional profile can enhance the skin and hair health, boost energy, and help maintain a healthy weight.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the health benefits of tofu?
Tofu comes with a lot of health benefits, being a plant-based protein. It reduces the risk of heart disease, prevents cancer, and is a great protein supplement.
Are there any side effects of tofu?
People allergic to soy should avoid using tofu.
Does plain tofu taste good?
Plain tofu basically has a mild nutty flavor, so the taste of plain tofu depends upon individual liking.
Is tofu an option for vegans?
Yes, tofu is the best option for vegans as it is made from plant-based proteins.
Is tofu good for weight loss?
Being cholesterol-free and low-calorie tofu may help you to lose weight by keeping you fuller for a long time.
Can you eat tofu raw?
Yes, tofu can be eaten raw, but it tastes best when cooked.