Tofu? A word we often hear when we talk about vegetarian cooking but quite often associated with an elastic and tasteless white paste. But what is it exactly? How is it used and what are its benefits?
Tofu, a soy derivative
Tofu, made from the seeds of soybeans, is a food that has been used for centuries in Asian cuisine, and in recent years in our country, mainly as a meat substitute in vegetarian diets.
Its manufacturing process is quite similar to that of some cheeses, such as ricotta. It is made from curdled and heated soy milk, which is itself extracted from crushed and boiled soybeans. A salty or acidic mineral coagulant is added and the liquid separates into two: the curd and the whey. The curd is then compressed into a block. The longer the compression, the firmer the tofu will be.
Its basic taste is quite bland, but its porous texture means that it takes on the flavor of the foods that accompany it, which is a famous asset in terms of recipe diversity.
What are its benefits for our health?
In addition to its highcomplete protein content, which makes it an ally of vegetarian diets, Tofu is an easy-to-digest food and very interesting from a nutritional perspective. It contains little fat and this is mostly unsaturated, islow in calories and rich in calcium and iron. It is rich in soy lecithin, which is essential for nerve and brain function, and helps lower bad cholesterol.
Tofu also contains saponins that help fight cellular aging, isoflavones that impact female hormone balance and flavonoids that neutralize the action of free radicals.
How to choose and consume it?
Tofu can be found fairly easily in big box and organic stores.
Be aware, however, that it can come in many forms, which differ in taste and use.
Firm tofu has a solid, firm appearance and can be used diced, crumbled, marinated, grilled, ... It is important to drain it well and dry it with a paper towel. You can add it as is to your pasta dishes, rice dishes, vegetable woks, or even to your salads, soups or sandwiches. However, if its rather bland taste does not suit you, I advise you to marinate it at least one hour in soy sauce with fresh herbs and spices.
Extra firm tofu, on the other hand, will be used more as a substitute for ground meat in your recipes.
Silken tofu, with its creamy and softer texture, is going to be used in dessert recipes, salad dressings, smoothies, ... It can replace eggs, butter, fresh cream or yogurt in your sweet or savory recipes. Remember that 100 grams of silken tofu replaces one egg, 100 grams of soft butter, 100 grams of fresh cream or 100 grams of yogurt.
- 250 gr of firm tofu
- 125gr carrots
- 125gr of leeks
- 15 g of pine nuts or soaked cashew nuts
- 3.5 tablespoons of olive oil
- 3.5 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon of vegetable stock powder (optional)
- 5 tablespoons of water
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Cook the chopped vegetables in steam or olive oil until tender (you can add spices such as cumin, mustard seeds or others according to your taste).
Place all ingredients (tofu, oil, soy sauce, pine nuts and water) in a food processor and grind until smooth.
Then add the cooked vegetables, either directly into the food processor for a fine structure, or into a bowl with a fork for a rougher, lumpier structure.
Transfer the mixture to an oiled pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the surface is golden brown.
Ingredients for about ten vegetarian steaks (you can freeze some!):
1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed (400g)
1 can of red beans, drained and rinsed (400g)
1 sweet or red onion
1 green bell pepper
3 cloves of garlic
1 small can of corn, drained
1 cup of oatmeal
1 cup of breadcrumbs
120g silken tofu (or 1 egg)
(note: 1 cup = 240ml)
Herbs and spices
1 tablespoon parsley (or coriander)
1 tsp. sage
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon garam massala spices, no chili
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp of sweet pepper powder
Salt and pepper
Blend the chickpeas and beans: be careful not to overblend, you don't want to get a puree!
Set aside in a large bowl.
Wash, peel and finely chop onion, bell pepper, carrot and garlic.
In a frying pan, sauté the garlic and onion with a tablespoon of olive oil for 1 or 2 minutes over medium heat, then add the other vegetables.
Leave on the heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are cooked.
Once cooked, let the vegetables cool to room temperature.
Add herbs and spices, cooked vegetables, salt and pepper, breadcrumbs, oatmeal and silken tofu to the bowl of mixed beans and chickpeas.
Mix well directly with your hands! The mixture must be made uniform...
Take balls of dough and form them into patties (about 1cm thick) using a small pastry circle (max. 10cm diameter) to size them identically, or directly with your hands.
In a hot skillet, pour olive oil (count one tablespoon of oil per steak). When the oil is crackling, pour the steaks into the pan: let them cook for several minutes without touching them (at the risk of breaking the patties) until the side against the pan becomes crispy and well browned.
Gently turn the cake over and let the other side cook in the same way.