Tofu, Beancurd and Tempeh
Tofu (also called Beancurd) is an ancient Chinese and Japanese product made from curdled soybean milk – the extract from yellow soy beans. It is made by pulping cooked soybeans, straining out the soy milk and then coagulating and pressing it in a process very similar to making cottage cheese. Depending on how much liquid is left after the curds are pressed into cakes, the resulting tofu can be custard-like or chewy, and is labelled soft, medium or firm. Silken tofu is the most delicate, even if labelled firm. Although rather bland, tofu has the marvellous property of absorbing other flavours.
Tofu is rich in protein, and low in fat and cholesterol. It can be used in soups, stews, stirfries and salads.
Cubes of fresh tofu can be deep fried until golden brown, and are available already fried – golden brown on the outside, a little rubbery in texture and can be added to salads and used as a garnish for soups.
Tofu is very perishable. Keep it in the fridge in its tub or pouch or transfer it to water. Change the water daily. used within a few days of purchase.
Tofu Skins |Beancurd Skins | Yuba
Tofu Skins are formed during the boiling of soy milk — in an open shallow pan, a film or skin forms on the liquid surface. The films are collected and dried into yellowish sheets known as tofu skin. Since it is not produced using a coagulant, it is not technically a proper tofu, however it does have similar texture and flavour to some tofu products.
Tofu skin’s use was first documented in written records in China and Japan in the sixteenth century. It is widely used, fresh, fermented, or dried, in Chinese and Japanese cuisine. The dried form, Beancurd sheets, are sold in packets, and look like wrinkled brown paper. They need to be soaked for 5 minutes before use. It is often used to wrap dim sum — when wet, any torn sections can be patched together with ease. It is also great added to soups, salads and other dishes.
Because of its slightly rubbery texture, tofu skin is also manufactured in bunched, folded and wrapped forms that are used as meat substitutes in vegetarian cuisine. Tofu skins can be wrapped and then folded against itself to make dòu baō (Chinese: 豆包, literally “tofu package”). These are often fried to give it a firmer skin before being cooked further.
Red Beancurd and Tempeh
Red beancurd is pickled or fermented tofu, and with its strong flavour is only used for sauces.
Tempeh is also a fermented tofu, popular in Bali and other parts of Indonesia.
Feel free to browse recipes from our Retro Recipes series – vegetarian recipes from our first blog from 1995 – 2005. You might also like our Ingredients information here. Check out our easy Asian recipes here and here.
from The Tofu and Paneer Series
- Broth and Dipping Sauce for Japanese Noodles and Tofu
- Cacik: Turkish cucumber and Yoghurt Mezze
- Carrot Sambol
- Japanese Kitsu Udon (Fox Noodles)