Vegetarian for Life

National Tofu Day: 1 September

Posted by Ollie on 31/08/21 in Recipes

1 September is National Tofu Day, so if you’ve not tried it before why not give it a go? Many chefs aren’t used to cooking with tofu, so tend not to include it in their menus. But if you’re cooking for others, whether in a lunch club or a care home, why not put tofu on the menu for National Tofu Day?

Tofu is both loved and hated. If you’re in the second camp, I urge you to give it another go. Tofu is a versatile and nutritious food that makes an excellent staple in your diet as a vegetarian, and certainly as a vegan.

Tofu is made by curdling fresh soya milk, pressing it into a solid block and then cooling it. The process is similar to the way in which traditional dairy cheese is made, by curdling and solidifying milk. The liquid (whey) is discarded and the curds are pressed to form a solid. It has been a staple ingredient in Thai and Chinese cookery for over 2000 years!

It is a great vegetarian and vegan source of protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. It is a valuable plant source of iron and calcium and the minerals manganese and phosphorous. It is also full of magnesium, copper, zinc and vitamin B1.

Tofu can be cooked in different ways to change its texture, from smooth and soft, to crisp and crunchy. It has a natural, neutral taste and a range of consistencies, from extra firm to soft and silken, meaning tofu has an amazing ability to work with almost all types of flavours and foods. Firmer tofu is best for baking, grilling and stir-fries. It’s found in the chilled section of supermarkets because it needs to be kept refrigerated. Try this great vegan tofish and chips recipe.

Tofu marinates well, absorbing and retaining flavour. It can then be grilled, baked, shallow or deep-fried, and added to a number of dishes, including stir-fries, curries, sandwiches, and sauces.

A quick guide to preparing crispy tofu

  1. Carefully open the packet, drain the liquid, and rinse the tofu under a little fresh water. 
  2. Place your tofu under paper towels and gently press. This will absorb excess liquid and help the tofu to absorb new flavours.
  3. Cut the tofu into thick slices.
  4. Cut the tofu into triangles.
  5. Gently fry the tofu in a little oil for 10 minutes on either side. Flavour well with soya sauce and paprika.
  6. Crispy tofu can be added to a variety of dishes, including curry, stir-fries, pasta dishes, and pie fillings. Remember tofu generally has no flavour so will need plenty of herbs and spices to give it flavour.

Soft/silken tofu is better suited for sauces, desserts, shakes, and salad dressings. It is a creamy, softer product and found in the grocery aisles of supermarkets in cartons, because it doesn’t need to be refrigerated until opened. Try our Eggless, Creamless Crème Brûlée recipe for a delicious vegan alternative to the classic dessert.

We hope that this guide has inspired you to get experimenting with tofu. It will be worth the effort and you’ll discover a fantastic versatile ingredient to add to your menus or home cooking. We’re sure that  if you do have a vegetarian or vegan resident in your care, they’ll appreciate you making the effort to learn how to cook tofu.

Join Chef Alex on Tuesday 6 September at 2pm for a practical cookery demo showing you all the inside tips to preparing and cooking tofu on VfL's Facebook and Youtube channels.

If you’re new to veggie/vegan catering, get in touch to find out about VfL’s in-house and online introductory catering courses. Email or call 0161 257 0887 to find out more.


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