What is Tofu?
Tofu is a type of food made from soy milk mixed with water and a curdling agent or coagulant. It is also called “soy bean curd” and looks like white cheese in appearance. It is said to have a bland taste but contains lots of protein and calcium. It is common for tofu to be mixed with a variety of dishes because it easily absorbs flavor from the particular dish. Sometimes tofu is also used as an alternative to meat in a variety of dishes, especially for some types of vegetarians.
To make tofu, soy beans are grinded to produce milk. The resulting milk will then be mixed with a coagulant to form the curds. The most commonly used coagulant is gypsum or calcium sulfate. This type is said to contain lots of calcium and common in Chinese-style preparations. The curd in this type is usually tender but somewhat brittle. Other people use a form of organic acid called GDL or glucono delta lactone as the coagulant. This organic acid is also used in making cheese and will yield a finer curd which is jelly-like. It also tastes quite sour when compared with tofu mixed with gypsum.
Tofu may be firm, soft, or silken, depending on the coagulant used and the process involved in making it. Firm tofu is denser and contains the most protein and calcium. This type is commonly used in many dishes as this can be grilled, cubed, baked, or scrambled. Softer tofu meanwhile is usually intended for mixing and blending with other ingredients. Silken tofu is also used for blending but it has a creamier consistency.
Tofu is consumed by many because of its variety of nutritional content. Besides calcium and protein, tofu also contains B vitamins. This is why many vegetarians opt to use tofu in dishes instead of meat. Tofu is also rich in isoflavones which are said to be helpful in preventing osteoporosis, lowering rates in certain cancers like those of the breast and prostate and reducing symptoms associated with menopause like hot flushes and mood swings. Tofu consumption is also encouraged because it lowers bad cholesterol levels in the blood.