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TOFU OR NOT TOFU

Being healthier means a reduction in meat products in the diet, but mention tofu as an alternative and a lot of the time you’ll see people visibly flinch.  But this much-maligned fermented bean curd should be given a chance.  Usually the reason people don’t like it is because it hasn’t been prepared properly or they’ve chosen the wrong type for the dish they intend to make.

There are two popular types: firm and silken.  Firm tofu is popular for savoury dishes as a meat substitute.  Silken tofu is usually blended to make sauces or as a soft cheese alternative in cake icing or in cheesecake.

There are three simple things you HAVE to do with extra-firm tofu (Cauldron is a brand you see in the chilled cabinets of most supermarkets) if you want it to taste amazing:

  1. Pressing : Wrapping tofu in a tea towel and putting something heavy on top (like a chopping board weighed down with cans) gets rid of the excess water and makes it ‘meatier’ in texture.  You can leave it anywhere from 20 minutes to 24 hours (in the fridge).  The longer you leave it, the denser it becomes.  I usually leave mine about an hour or two, but you can prepare it the night before you intend to use it.
  2. Marinating: The blandness of tofu is what makes it so wonderful.  It soaks up the flavours of anything you marinate it in.  The marinade can be as simple as complex as you want it to be – even a few tablespoons of soy sauce can make all the difference.
  3. Cooking: Tofu can be chopped as large or as small as you like.  Large squares can be grilled and used as a type of burger, but smaller cubes can be put together with noodles or rice to add texture to the dish.  Baking tofu on 180 degrees for half an hour makes it extra chewy, but if you want it really crispy, coat it in cornflour and fry lightly in oil.

Simple Tofu Marinade

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp soy sauce (or gluten free tamari)
  • 3 tbsp sherry or rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2” ginger, minced

Method

  1. Mix all the ingredients together.
  2. Chop the tofu into 1cm cubes and place in a strong plastic container.
  3. Pour the marinade over the top, ensuring all the tofu is fully coated.
  4. Leave in a cool place for 20 minutes up to 24 hours.
  5. When ready, cook as described above, and serve along vegetables and rice or noodles.

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