Tofu is a dairy-free soy cheese. Tofu cheese is a versatile food that has many health benefits. It is an excellent source of amino acids, iron, calcium and other trace elements.
It is possible that this product is the secret of longevity and the absence of problems with excess weight among the peoples of Asia.
This cheese is a staple food in Thai, Japanese and Chinese cuisines. It is made by thickening fresh soy milk, pressing it into a solid block and then chilling it, much in the same way as traditional milk cheese is made by thickening and solidifying milk.
There are three main types of tofu, classified according to production method and consistency level. The latter is directly related to the protein content: the denser and drier the product, the more protein it contains.
“Western” variant of cheese is the densest and hardest, “cotton” – more watery and softer, and finally “silk” – the most delicate.
Composition and calorie content
First of all, this cheese contains soy milk, which is the basis for the manufacture of this product. It is curdled with a coagulant such as nigari (magnesium chloride, calcium sulfate or citric acid). In addition, in Okinawa, milk is curdled with sea water, and the finished product is called island tofu there.
- Caloric content 76 kcal
- Proteins 8.1 g
- Fat 4.8 g
- Carbohydrates 1.6 g
- Dietary fiber 0.3 g
- Water 85 g
How is it made
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Tofu cheese is made by curdling soy milk when heated. This process takes place under the action of a coagulant – magnesium chloride, citric acid, calcium sulfate or sea water (it is used as a coagulant in Okinawa).
The resulting mass is pressed and sealed. The result is a low-calorie product that is rich in high-quality vegetable protein with all the essential amino acids.
The benefits of tofu
Tofu is a good source of protein and contains all nine essential amino acids. It is also a valuable plant source of iron and calcium and the minerals manganese, selenium and phosphorus. Plus, tofu is a good source of magnesium, copper, zinc and vitamin B1.
This cheese is a great food for a healthy diet. A 100 g serving contains: 73 kcal, 4.2 g fat, 0.5 g fat, 0.7 g carbohydrates, 8.1 g protein.
Soy protein (from which tofu is made) is believed to help lower bad cholesterol. Tofu contains phytoestrogens called isoflavones. It is a group of chemicals found in plant foods.
They have a structure similar to the female hormone estrogen, and therefore mimic the action of estrogen produced by the body. They are thought to potentially reduce the risk of breast cancer as well as help relieve the symptoms of menopause.
How to eat, choose and store tofu
Tofu is sold by weight or in separate packages that are kept in the refrigerator. It is also sold in airtight containers that can be kept at room temperature. They do not require refrigeration until they are open.
After opening, soy cheese must be washed, filled with water and stored in the refrigerator. To keep the tofu fresh for one week, the water should be changed frequently. Tofu can be frozen in its original packaging for up to five months.
Thanks to its neutral flavor and wide range of textures, tofu goes well with almost all types of flavors and foods. Hard tofu is best for baking, grilling, and roasting, while soft tofu is ideal for sauces, desserts, cocktails, and salad dressings.
Tofu and all soy products are high in oxalates. People who have a tendency to form oxalate kidney stones should avoid excessive consumption of soy foods.
Soy contains phytohormones, an excess of which can lead to malfunctions of the endocrine system. For the same reason, pregnant women should use the product with caution. Overeating tofu can also cause diarrhea.
Tofu should also not be consumed if you are intolerant to soy.
How to eat tofu
Depending on the consistency, tofu is divided into hard, dense (like mozzarella cheese) and soft (like pudding). Hard tofu is good for frying, baking and smoking, and is also added to salads.
Soft tofu is used in sauces, soups, sweet dishes, and steamed.
This cheese can also be marinated with soy sauce, lemon juice, or tamarind. This cheese is used to make cutlets, snacks, and soy cheese is one of the main ingredients in miso soup and Thai curry.
Tofu cheese is a neutral product that has almost no taste of its own and gets it mainly from the environment. Soy cheese is almost never eaten in its pure form, using it to prepare various dishes. It should be consumed along with other products with a brighter taste, generously flavored with aromatic spices.
The property of this cheese to absorb other people’s odors can adversely affect its taste if storage conditions are not followed. When buying a product, you should make sure that its packaging is intact and that there is information about the composition, which should not contain anything other than soy, water and coagulant. The smell of quality Tofu is slightly sweet, without sour notes.
The versatility of Tofu cheese is due to its widespread use in cooking. It is equally well suited for preparing main dishes, sauces, desserts and more. This cheese provides a wide range of culinary options, you can:
- boil and steam;
- marinate in lemon juice or soy sauce;
- use as a filling.
The neutrality and ability of cheese to be impregnated with other people’s tastes and smells, makes it easy to combine it with almost any product. For example, when added to a hot sauce, it will take on the taste of pepper and spice, and mixed with chocolate will make a delicious dessert. For consumption as an independent snack, it is often produced with the addition of nuts, herbs or paprika.
The use of this cheese in certain dishes depends on its type. Silky tofu, delicate in consistency, is used in soups, sauces and desserts. The denser varieties are fried, smoked, and marinated. The most popular are various soups, stews, sauces and salads made from soy cheese (with cabbage, mushrooms, tomatoes or avocados), fried Tofu (for example, in beer batter), vitamin cocktails made from it, fillings for dumplings or pies.