Tofu Tofu (豆腐, tōfu), also known as bean curd, is a food prepared by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into solid white blocks of varying softness. It can be silken, soft, firm, extra firm, or super firm. Beyond these broad textural categories, there are many varieties of tofu. It has a subtle flavor, so it can be used in savory and sweet dishes. It is often seasoned or marinated to suit the dish and its flavors, and due to its spongy texture, it absorbs flavors well. Because of the art required to produce tofu, it is usually considered that making your own can be a form of self-cultivation in Japanese cuisine. Tofu, also known as bean curd, is a food prepared by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into solid white blocks of varying softness.
Tofu offers numerous health benefits, such as high protein content with little or no saturated fats, low-calorie count, and abundant iron and calcium. Tofu contains all eight essential amino acids needed to maintain the health of the human body. It is an economical source of high-quality protein that can be used in place of meat for many recipes.
Tofu can be prepared in a variety of ways including frying, baking, grilling, and a variety of stir-fry methods. Tofu has a subtle flavor that absorbs the tastes with which it is cooked or marinated. It can also be seasoned to suit one's tastes, as in silken tofu with soy sauce, mirin, and dashi.
Tofu comes in a wide range of textures, depending on water content, from the firm, medium-firm and extra firm for stews and soups to soft or silken for salad dressings, desserts, and shakes. Tofu has a low-calorie count (about 100 calories per serving), relatively large amounts of protein, is low in saturated fat, and contains iron-rich calcium. Tofu contains all eight essential amino acids needed to maintain the health of the human body. It is an economical source of high-quality protein that can be used in place of meat for many recipes.
Tofu is made from soybeans and little else, with no additional processing other than pressing out the water (similar to cheese-making) and packaging it. It is made from ground dried soybeans and water. Soy milk, tofu's main raw material, is produced by soaking the beans and grinding them to a pulp. Then either calcium sulfate or sodium chloride may be added depending on the coagulation method before being boiled. The boiling process causes curdling, which is then separated into curds and whey. The curdling process occurs naturally in the production of traditional tofu and is produced intentionally for soymilk and tofu making to form a tofu "curd" or "cake".
Tofu has very little flavor or smell on its own and takes up the flavors of the ingredients with which it's prepared. It can be fried, grilled, or steamed and is often crumbled into recipes as a replacement for ground meat. Firm tofu has the highest calorie count (about 100 calories per serving), since it's higher in protein density than soft tofu. It absorbs marinades well so it readily takes on the flavors of sauces and seasonings to which it's cooked. Firm tofu can also be sliced, pressed to remove moisture, and baked. This gives it a firmer texture for grilling or barbecuing than soft tofu.
Global tofu production
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), global production of tofu reached 4.2 million metric tons in 2016. The vast majority of this tofu is produced in Asian countries, with China accounting for more than 70% of total production. Other major tofu-producing countries include Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam, and Thailand.
In the United States, tofu production is a much smaller but rapidly growing industry. According to the Soyfoods Association of North America, U.S. tofu production increased by nearly 60% between 2012 and 2017, reaching a total of more than 190 million pounds in 2017. The vast majority of tofu produced in the United States is consumed by Asian Americans. However, tofu is gaining popularity among other demographic groups as a source of vegetarian protein.
Tofu is made from soy milk that has been curdled and pressed to remove excess water. The resulting product is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. Tofu can be marinated and grilled, stir-fried, used in soups and stews, or even blended into smoothies.
Despite its relatively simple ingredients and production process, tofu has a range of health benefits. Tofu is an excellent source of protein and contains all eight essential amino acids. It is also low in calories and fat, and high in iron and calcium. Additionally, tofu is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and phytochemicals that can help protect against heart disease and some types of cancer.