Monday, March 05, 2012

Today's Tofu

Once again, I'm here to sing praises to tofu.
(hmmmmm ---- have I yet spoken of tofu on this blog?)

Tofu (or 'dow-fu' as I've always called it - and still refer to it when not in mixed company*) ranks as one of my all-time favorite foods. I've been eating tofu all my life, and continue to buy and use it as a kitchen staple.

Sadly, for those who haven't been indoctrinated into the realm of soy curd aka soy cheese, tofu isn't considered a significant foodstuff. Rather, tofu is looked upon as a novel food and/or inconsequential to everyday diet.

Many who aren't familiar with eating tofu respond with 'what's the big deal?' after having their first taste of soy curd. To be sure, tofu doesn't taste like much. The flavor is subtle --- though I once ate soft tofu at a restaurant in Kyoto, Japan that specialized in tofu. This was a pricey but simple offering of tofu - which was made with sweet water from a local natural spring. The tofu was served cold, with a tiny bit of lite soy sauce and a few finely minced green onion over top. This tofu eating experience was otherworldly - and provided me with an even greater appreciation of the joy of having such a simple food in one's diet.

Delectable palate memory aside....

...back to those who 'don't care for tofu'. There are folks who react negatively to the smooth texture of tofu. No chew, no thrill for these folks. Soft tofu just about melts in your mouth. A delectable sensation on the palate to some, but not others. Melt in mouth but sans flavor - what's to like, right?

No taste.
Not much texture.

What tofu eating promises, other than being a healthy food choice, is that it can take on the flavor of whatever seasonings are added to it, whether the tofu is served cold or heated. It does adopt the taste of whatever sauce it is cooked in or served alongside.

But - I digress. This post was not meant to promote the culinary virtues of tofu to those who don't already love to eat it.
Rather, it is to offer a Helpful Household Hint about tofu to those who already like the stuff. This post is to introduce to those who haven't yet tried -
Frozen Reconstituted Tofu to Cook With.

First of all, buy a package of (firm) tofu and yes - go ahead - freeze it.
Once upon a time in my youth, when bacterial concerns were not paramount at my neighborhood corner mom n' pop grocery store -- Mom used to send me out to buy tofu by the pound, made fresh by the store owners - no containers!

The entire unopened package can be chucked into the freezer as is. I typically remove some - slice it or dice it into smaller chunks, put it into a freezer container and cover with fresh water before popping it into the freezer.

Freeze for at least 24 hours.
Then -
thaw out the block of frozen tofu. I use running water to knock off the larger chunks of ice surrounding the frozen block.
Once thawed, squeeze out excess water from the tofu. Use a little or a lot of pressure to squeeze, depending on how crumbly you want the tofu to be before using.
Slice or crumble the tofu.
Then proceed to cook with it.

When tofu has been frozen, then thawed - the texture changes dramatically.
It becomes ... almost ... meat-like.
Yup, you heard right.
Texture like meat, alright - but I won't go so far as to say it tastes like chicken.

True to the nature of tofu easily taking on seasonings put to it, the resulting post-freeze textural tofu still absorbs the flavor of whatever sauce is used on it or with it. More so, actually, as the sponge-like texture seems to readily take on even more seasoning flavor than pre-frozen tofu does.

I've added frozen/thawed/squooozed/crumbled tofu to pasta sauces, in lieu of ground meat. Sounds unorthodox and seems a bit weird - but the texture and flavor is quite good.

Better yet, previously frozen/thawed/squooozed/sliced, diced or crumbled tofu adds a delightful texture to stir-fry dishes. I sometimes combine it with meat, and am hard-pressed to notice the difference between the meat and tofu in the resulting dish. No foolin'.
Turns out that I actually prefer the tofu pieces. But then, I am crazy over tofu.

Reconstituted frozen tofu can even be sliced, breaded and lightly fried in a small amount of oil.

Here is one tasty recipe using frozen tofu.

There are plenty other recipes online to investigate. Just Google It.
Huzzah! Huzzah! for tofu that has been frozen and reconstituted for cooking!
A cheap eating thrill, indeedy. But a thrill nonetheless.

* mixed company = anyone who is does not speak/understand a few basic food items spoken in the Cantonese language. In Cantonese, 'tofu' is 'dow-fu'. Either way, it is YUM.

image of tofu package from

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