Tofu is a delicious healthy food made from soybean curds. It’s naturally low in calories and it’s gluten-free. It’s a superb source of protein, manganese, calcium, copper, selenium iron, and contains NO cholesterol. Soy is the primary constituent of tofu and is a complete source of dietary protein, providing all of the essential amino acids needed in the diet. For optimum health, consume tofu occasionally with a variety of other foods.
- Cardiovascular disorders
- Cancer prevention
- Obesity prevention and treatment
- Diabetes (Type 2) – treatment
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Periodontal disease
- Neurodegenerative disease
- Strengthen body energy by balancing the digestive system
- Clears heat and toxins from the body:
- Helping to promote breast milk
- Soothes the body joints
- Moisturizes the skin
- Relieves bowel blockages
- Moistens cough
According to the theory of Chinese Nutritional Therapy, tofu benefits the (TCM) Spleen / Stomach, which are related to blood, metabolism and digestion. When the Spleen/Stomach are in harmony there is health and energy. It is sweet in taste meaning it helps digestion of food, including difficult to digest foods. It is neutral / cooling and this helps to cool stomach fire and it moistens the skin. Tofu would be beneficial for constipation.
Tofu is available in most supermarkets today, and is offered either refrigerated in individual packages or non-refrigerated in aseptically sealed containers. All tofu packets should have an expiry date printed on packaging. Once the package is opened, all types of tofu should be rinsed well, kept in a container covered with water, and placed in the refrigerator. Changing the water daily will help keep the tofu fresh for up to one week.
Types of Tofu
There are many nutritious healthy Chinese food recipes that call for the use of tofu and there are a number of different types of tofu out there and it’s important to know which kind of tofu is best to use for your different recipes.
Tofu differs in texture from soft to firm to extra-firm. Soft or Silken tofu has a smoother texture and is particularly suitable for salad dressings, sauces, and desserts. Firm and extra-firm tofu are best for baking, stir-frying, and grilling. This firm tofu will keep its shape as it cooks and will not fall apart in your wok or pan during the cooking process.
I recommend that you drain your tofu before you use it. This will help the tofu to absorb all of the flavours of your dish and make it much tastier. You can easily drain your tofu on a wire tray over a plate. Be careful with silken tofu, use a muslin cloth to hold it together. Place a weight on top to assist the squeeze, for example another plate on top of the tofu to help expel the water. You can also place your tofu cake between two plates and squeeze the plates with rubber bands and hold vertically to drain water.
How to make Tofu
I do not advise making tofu at home as like other fermented foods, one of the process ingredients (magnesium chloride) can be damaging to your health, if not used in the correct way.
Soybean is the main ingredient of Tofu. Soybean milk is to be heated until it boils, then a tiny amount of magnesium chloride is added to solidify the soybean milk. We wait until the mixture cools down and you then have Tofu that is ready to be cooked.
Xiao Cong Ban Tofu
This is a typical Beijing dish and can be seen most frequently in North China. Green onion and Tofu are the only ingredients of this dish. With a small amount of sesame oil and salt, this dish is known for retaining the flavours of both of the ingredients.
- 1 block (325 grams / 12 ounces) silken tofu
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
- 1/2 cup chopped green onion, green part
- 2 teaspoons Chinese sesame oil
- Carefully transfer the tofu from the package to a medium-size plate.
- Sprinkle sea salt over tofu and top with green onion and a drizzle of sesame oil. Use a knife to slice tofu into strips, then gently mix it with a pair of chopsticks.
- Serve immediately.
This is a lovely simple recipe that makes a great appetizer. Enjoy!
James O’Sullivan - that's me, a people friendly practitioner and lecturer of Integrated Medicine, serving my patients, my students and the public with the positive benefits of both Conventional Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to diagnose or assess. The information provided is not to be considered a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care practitioner.