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What to Do with Tofu

Body+Soul, Volume 10 June 2006

Barbecue it, saute it, even use it in a dessert. Six terrific tofu recipes will change the way you think about this versatile food.

Thai-Style Tofu
Spicy, Crisp Tofu on Mint-Avocado Salad
Japanese Chilled Tofu
"Barbecued" Tofu
Lemon Cream With Blackberries
Strawberry-Banana Tofu Shake

Tofu 101

There are two types of tofu: silken, also referred to as Japanese, and regular, or Chinese. They both come in soft, firm, and extra-firm consistencies (as well as low-fat), but these two tofus serve different functions in the kitchen. Silken tofu is smooth and creamy, much like a custard. It comes in aseptic packages as well as refrigerated. The difference between the soft, firm, and extra-firm varieties lies in the amount of moisture each contains; soft has the most, extra-firm the least. All three, however, are delicate and fall apart if handled too much. For that reason and for its velvety texture, all types work well in blended dishes that require a smooth, creamy consistency, like salad dressings and puddings. Regular tofu has a firmer texture than silken -- whether soft, firm, or extra-firm. But even soft tofu is not as creamy as a firm silken tofu. Regular tofu, which needs refrigeration, keeps its form when cooked in dishes like soups and stir-fries. It requires pressing, a simple process that removes some of its liquid and allows the tofu to absorb flavors better.

How to Press Tofu
Lay cut tofu on a baking sheet lined with a double layer of paper towels. Place two more clean towels on top of tofu and add another baking tray. Place a heavy skillet or another weight on top to press out excess liquid, 20 to 30 minutes.

recipes by Elizabeth Germain | photographs by Sang An

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