Welcome to this edition of Talk To Me Tuesdays! Today's question is "How is tofu made?"
Tofu is made by coagulating soymilk and then pressing the resulting curds into soft white blocks. Pre-made soy milk can be used but most tofu producers begin by making their own soy milk. Soymilk is produced by soaking, grinding, boiling and straining dried (or, less commonly, fresh) soybeans.
Coagulation of the protein and oil suspended in boiled soy milk is the most important step in the production of tofu. This process is accomplished with the aid of coagulants. Salts and acids are two types of coagulants used commercially. Enzymes, a the third type of a coagulant is not yet used commercially but shows potential for producing both firm and "silken" tofu.
When you go to the store there are different types of tofu you can buy depending on how you intend to prepare it. If you have never cooked with tofu before, I suggest that you find a recipe that sounds appealing to you and use whatever type is called for in the recipe. Typically it will be silken/soft tofu or firm tofu. Also, remember that for most people, tofu is an acquired taste. It does take on the flavor of whatever you are preparing so a good recipe to start from would be key. It is used as a meat replacement in most dishes and there are many tofu scramble recipes that are used to mock or replace scrambled eggs. When tofu scramble is prepared in the right way, it does give the illusion of scrambled eggs because of the consistency but not the taste in my opinion.
As I always mention, there are always two sides to anything. There are many people that eat tofu for the protein content and others who argue that tofu is not good for you. You have to do your research and make a determination for yourself. When I first became a vegan, I did eat a lot of tofu once I got used to it and learned how to prepare it in order for it to taste good. However, as I got more into my vegan diet, I began to phase it out and only eat it once in a while. I had some today to try out a dish and give some feedback but I don't intend on having it anymore, so it's really a personal choice. In another post, I will dissect some of the issues and opinions around tofu consumption to give you a broader view. I hope this helps in the meantime!