At my high school reunion, I learned that several classmates remembered me because I ate tofu (and other unheard of items thanks to my parents’ macrobiotic diet). Good news: in the years since graduation, tofu has steadily climbed the popularity ladder, making “tofu eater” a less effective descriptor.
Tofu is a now readily available in most grocery stores and on more and more restaurant menus. Made from soybeans, it is eaten as a plant-based source of protein, which also offers a good amount of iron, manganese, trytophan, and depending on how it is produced, calcium. In many Asian cuisines, it is eaten daily, often as a condiment. In the west, it has grown to become a staple on vegetarian menus, taking on countless flavors and configurations depending on how and with what it is prepared.
Whether you are new to tofu or not, this easy way to prepare it, works well as a meat substitute, served with potatoes and a vegetable on Meatless Monday, in place of a fried egg for a vegan breakfast, instead of a burger at a BBQ, chicken nuggets or fish sticks, sandwiched between two slices of bread, with lettuce and tomato for a satisfying lunch, or with a fresh vegetable salad.
For the best flavor, press your soybean curd cake between two plates with some weight on top (a large can works well) for up to an hour. This squeezes out excess water and allows for improved flavor in your cooking.
If you’re of a diy mind, give making tofu a try. It’s not particularly difficult and the results are unsurpassed! Click here for more information, instructions and additional recipes.
Crispy Tofu Patties
- 1 package of tofu (organic*, ideally firm and pressed)
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (high in protein and vitamins, particularly the B complex)
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs or panko (look for hydrogenated oil and preservative-free)
- 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- several grinds of black pepper
- butter, coconut oil or grapeseed oil for frying
- Mix dry ingredients in a shallow bowl.
- Slice tofu in roughly 1/2″ slices, and roll in dry mix to thoroughly cover.
- Heat butter or oil in skillet until hot but not smoking.
- Fry tofu slices, several minutes on each side until brown and crispy.
- Serve immediately or keep warm in a low oven.
Another easy and healthy soy food is tempeh (some claim more so than tofu because it is made with fermented soybeans). Here are two recipes to try: tempeh instead of bacon in a BLT, and in this colorful stir-fry.
* With more than 90% of soybeans grown from genetically modified seeds, I strongly recommend only eating tofu (and tempeh) made from organically grown soybeans.