"When they start selling chocolate-flavored tofu, then I'll know it's arrived," said a bemused, long-time observer of the natural food scene. "But then I never thought they could turn yogurt into junk food and look what's happened to that," he added.
Whatever happens to it, tofu has a lot to recommend it. With its very mild flavor it readily takes on the characteristics of the foods with which it is mixed. Served plain, it tastes a bit like a mild cheese. Broiled, it acquires meatlike characteristics. The consistency of tofu in cubed form is quite pleasant and when mashed or pureed it has the texture of cream cheese which has been thinned and whipped with milk.
Tofu, even when purchased in a speciality store, is much less expensive than ground beef. It is also less expensive than cheese, selling for about $1 a pound.Organic tofu in many natural food stores comes in a one-pound, "drained weight" package at $1.15. Supermarket tofu is sold at 69 cents for a one-pound, "net weight" package. This means that the actual tofu is about 111/2 ounces, and costs 98 cents per pound. (Drained weight is the weight of the solids alone. Net weight is the liquid and the solids minus the packaging.)
What you are getting at any price is a product high in protein, low in calories and fat. Four ounces of tofu contain less than 100 calories, 10 grams of good quality protein, 6 grams of unsaturated fat and only 1 gram of carbohydrates. It has no cholesterol and only 6 grams of sodium.
An equivalent amount of cheddar cheese has over four times as many calories. Ground beef, which is 30 percent fat, contains 31/2 times as many calories. Both the beef and the cheese do provide more protein: 28 grams in the cheese, 29 grams in 30-percent-fat beef. But in order to get that beef or cheese protein, more than 11/2 times as many calories must be consumed.
Also, since tofu is made from a plant protein, it does not contain the proper proportion of essential amino acids to allow the body to make the best use of the protein. It is deficient in cystine and methionine. In order to improve its protein quality, tofu should be eaten in combination with grains, such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, some seeds such as sesame, any dairy products or eggs.
There are many uses for soyabean curd, a few of which are given below. Try it also as a cheese replacement in recipes calling for cottage or ricotta cheese, as a substitute for mayonnaise,as a replacement for half the eggs in an egg-based dish, in place of sour cream or yogurt in dips and dressing, in place of eggs in waffles, pancakes and quick breads.
In addition to cutting costs, mixing tofu with the meat reduces the fat content substantially.
MEATLOAF WITH TOFU
(8 servings) 1 pound ground beef 1 pound container tofu (about 11 ounces tofu) 1 large onion, finely chopped 1 clove garlic, minced 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley 1/2 teaspoon dried basil 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1/2 small bay leaf, crushed 2 eggs salt and pepper to taste 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds (optional)
Combine all the ingredients but the seeds and mix thoroughly, either with a wooden spoon or in a food processor.
To bake quickly, spoon the mixture into large muffin tins, filling almost to the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.
To make a more traditional meatloaf, spoon into two 9-by-5-by 21/2-inch loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes.
Because of the tofu, the meat will not get as brown as an ordinary meatloaf. You can sprinkle sunflower seeds over the top before baking, if desired.
Meatloaf is good hot or cold. Adding tofu to it, makes for a softer loaf, but because tofu has little taste of its own, its flavor is not evident.
This pie is lovely and rich, but the caloric count is way down when compared with a regular cheese pie. It also has a softer consistency.
(Enough filling for 9-inch pie shell) 1/2 pound (11/4 cups) tofu 1 cup plain yogurt 3 ounces cream cheese 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/4 cup honey or 1/4 cup sugar* 1/2 cup raisins, optional Baked pastry shell, or graham cracker crust, or zweibach crust.
Combine tofu, yogurt, cream cheese, vanilla and honey or sugar; blend thoroughly in blender.Plump raisins in hot water; drain on paper towel and then stir into yogurt mixture. Pour into prepared pie shell and refrigerate at least a day before serving.*
Ordinarily when substituting sugar for honey, more sugar is used, but in testing the recipe with sugar, 1/4 cup was sweet enough for my taste.
HONEY YOGURT TOFU SAUCE (About 1 1/4 cups) 3/4 cup plain yogurt 1/2 cup tofu 1 tablespoon honey 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Whirl all ingredients in blender or food processor with steel blade. Allow to mellow several hours or overnight. Serve with fruit, such as berries, cantaloupe, peaches, banana or as topping for pancakes.
TOFU IN LIPTAUER FASHION (About 1 1/2 cups) 1 cup tofu, mashed 1 small clove garlic, mashed 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard 1 large shallot, cut up 1 teaspoon chopped parsley 1 teaspoon chopped capers 1/2 cup yogurt Freshly ground black pepper to taste 1/2 teaspoon paprika
Place the tofu in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and process again until smooth. Allow to sit for several hours, or overnight for flavors to meld.
If you are using a food processer, you can do the cutting and chopping of the other ingredients first, removing them from the bowl before mixing the tofu. When tofu is smooth, add all ingredients and blend.
Serve with crackers, or raw vagetables such as celery or cucumber sticks, cherry tomatoes.
EGG SALAD WITH TOFU (3 or 4 servings) 4 hard-crooked eggs, mashed or chopped 1 cup tofu, diced 1/2 cup mayonnaise 2 teaspoons lemon juice 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 1 teaspoon curry Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients and serve on whole grain bread or pita, or as salad on lettuce. Good with alfalfa sprouts on top.
FRIED TOFU SANDWICH (1 serving) 3 (1/4 inch tick) slices tofu 2 teaspoons butter 2 slices whole wheat toast 1 tablespoon mayonnaise 1/2 tomato slcie 1/4 cup alfalfa sprouts Soy sauce and minced garlic to taste
Press water out ot tofu after placing between paper towels. Melt butter in heavy skillet. Add tofu slices and saute for 3 minutes, until golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper. Sprinkle with soy sauce and garlic. Spread mayonnaise on toast; assemble sandwich.
For variation, add slice cheese.
Substitute an equal amount of tofu for ground beef in spaghetti sauce. While sauce simmers, cut drained prressed tofu into 3/4 inch cubes. Heat oil to 350 degrees in heavy skillet to the depth of one inch. Fry tofu cubes in oil, turning constantly until crisp and brown.Remove and drain on absorbent paper. Add to sauce
DEVILED TOFU (Makes 2 sandwiches) 12 ounces tofu 1/4 cup mayonnaise 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed 1 clove garlic, minced 1 tablespoon soy sauce 2 tablespoon oil 2 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar Dash pepper
Mash all ingredients together. Allow to stand for 30 minutes. Serve on whole bread.
HOMEMADE TOFU 2 cups soybeans Water 5 teaspoon epsom salt, or 10 tablespoons lemon juice or 8 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or 3 to 4 1/2 teaspoon negari*(FOOTNOTE)
* Epsom salt is available at the drug store. Nigari, available at natural food stores, is a pale salt derived from evaporated sea water.(END FOOT)
If you do not have a wooden tofu maker, you can make your own with a two pound coffee can. Remove top and bottom of can.
Soak soybeans in 3 cups water overnight. Drain. Place half of soybeans in blender with 1 1/2 cup water; blend until pureed. Remove and repeat operation with remaining soybeans and another 1 1/2 cups water. Add both pureed mixtures to 5 cups boiling water. Cover; return to boil. When foam begins to rise to top of pot, remove pot from heat.
Using an old (but clean!) T-shirt or any similar porous cloth which will allow water to pass through but not particles, make a bag by folding cloth over and sewing up the sides, leaving a wide opening. Place the bag in a colander. Place colander over pot to reserve liquid. Pour hot mixture into bag. When all lliquid has drained through, twist bag tightly to get rid of as much excess liquid as possible. Press bottom of glass against bag to get out more liquid.
Pour 2 cups cold water into the bag and mix. Press again to remove as much liquid as possible. The residue in the bag is called okara . (It can be used as a ground meat extender or in casseroles. It is a good source of dietary fiber.) Return liquid which has drained to stove and heat just to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Whlie it simmers smix 2 cups water with the epsom salts or one of the other solidifying agents listed. Remove liquid from heat.
Add 2/3 cup epsom salts mixture to hot liquid. Stir with wooden spoon 3 or 4 times. Back stir so liquid stops moving. Check to see if curding process has begun. If it has not add another third of epsom salt mixture and stir again. Cover it and let rest about 5 minutes. Check again. There should be a clear yellow liquid on top and curds floating in the bottom. If not, add more solidifier, slowly, until curds definitely sparate from whey.
If you are using a tofu maker, follow directions. If you are using a coffee can, place can on surface (such as sink drainboard) where liquid can drain. Raise edge of can slightly so liquid can drain off. Line inside of can with triple thickness of cheesecloth, using enough so the tofu can be covered on top after it has been placed in the can.
Presss a strainer into pot containing curds and whey. With ladle scoop out whey and place in coffee can to moisten cheesecloth. When you have removed all the whey you can ladle curds into coffee can; cover with cheesecloth. Place metal top of can on top of cheesecloth and put about a pound weight on top of it. Allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes; the longer it sits the firmer the tofu.
Tofu is now ready. To remove, fill up a bowl with cold water; immerse entire coffee can in bowl of cold water; gently push tofu through bottom of container; let tofu sink to bottom of water; carefully open cheesecloth and place plate in water under tofu. Lift tofu; drain it on the plate. To cover and keep well covered with tight wrap. Tofu tastes best the first day but it will keep over a week if water is chaged every day.