Think You Know Tofu? Think Again!

OK, I’ll admit it, before we became vegetarians, these were pretty much our thoughts on tofu.


 Old thinking:

  • It’s a white, spongy, tasteless block of…what IS it made of, anyway?
  • There are only a few ways to prepare it, none of which are appetizing in the slightest.
  • It can’t possibly be nutritious; I mean, LOOK at it!
  • You can put it in Chinese food, but really…what else can you do with it?


The Real Deal:

  • Tofu is made from coagulated soy milk and is a blank slate when it comes to taste…it happily takes on the flavor of whatever it is cooked with.
  • Tofu can be marinated in nearly any type of liquid and can be baked, fried, sauteed, steamed, and even made into desserts and smoothies.  This makes tofu one of the most versatile vegetarian/vegan food options!
  • Tofu is made from soybeans, which are an excellent source of protein.  Depending on the coagulating agent used, tofu may also be high in magnesium or other minerals.
  • Something surprising that tofu can be used for…sumptuous vegan desserts!  Cheesecake, muffins, cakes, smoothies, even ice cream!


a block of tofu being prepared
Yummy tofu! (photo credit David Niergarth)

A few fun facts about tofu:

  • The first documented instance of making tofu is from China in the second century BCE, making it quite possibly the world’s first “processed food”.



  • Quite popular in East and Southeast Asia is a street food called chou doufu, or “stinky tofu”.  Marinated for up to several months in a fermented brine consisting of various combinations of milk, meat, shrimp and vegetables, the smell of stinky tofu has been likened to that of a sewer.  The marinated tofu is fried and served with a cabbage/sauce topping.


Stinky tofu vendor (photo credit: Kimberly Vardeman)
Stinky tofu vendor (photo credit: Kimberly Vardeman)


For more valuable information about tofu, be sure to listen to Episode 008 – All About Tofu on the Vegetarian Zen Podcast.  Not a regular listener?  Click the button below to subscribe on iTunes:

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