Monday 28 June 2010

What is Tofu?

At Zuma, we regularly use tofu, we make fresh tofu and also serve tofu deep fried in a flour mixture which includes shichimi pepper, black sesame seeds and Katakuriko (a fine potato starch). But what actually is Tofu? I know that it is made from Soya milk and that it is really good for you, but that's about all I knew, until now! So I done some research and here is what I found.
It actually originated in China over 2000 years ago! Where its use spread throughout the Far East so far that even today from Indonesia to Korea and Mongolia no national cooking does without it! Tofu, or bean curd, as it is often known, was probably introduced into Japanese cuisine around the 18th century. Nowadays the ''regular'' Japanese type of Tofu is made to suite Japanese tastes, it is softer, whiter and has a more delicate taste than the Chinese variety.
''Regular'' Tofu is soft and easily digestible. It is an ideal food for dieting, having an extremely low ratio of calories to protein, an average 180g portion contains only 100 calories, but 6% protein. Tofu is low in carbohydrates and completely free in cholesterol!
So how is is made????????????? Tofu is made from dry soya beans, which are soaked in water until they turn soft, then they are crushed , then boiled. Then the crushed material is separated into pulp and milk, the pulp becomes a tofu by-product called ''Okara'', a food in its own right. To the soy milk is added a coagulant to make the milk separate into curds and whey. Fresh warm curds are then poured into moulds and then left to settle for a few hours to take shape, the tofu is then soaked in water to firm even more, to cool and to keep fresh.
In Japan, Tofu is usually eaten fresh on the day that it is made, as daily shopping still exists as a part of Japanese life. Shopping habits are now different in most countries nowadays, and here in London we find tofu in plastic tubs, date stamped like milk, in order to give the consumer an indication of freshness, It should be consumed within 5-7 days of being made, and must be kept under refrigeration.
So I hope that my research has cleared up a few of the mysteries of Tofu!

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