Tofu, which is prepared through curdling of soy milk, is one of the staple foods in some Asian countries. Nowadays, it is widely used in other regions too. However, in order to cook this soy product in the proper manner, you must have a basic idea about the different tofu types, and the right type for your recipe.
Generally, tofu is sold in three versions - silken, soft, and firm. Silken tofu has a creamy, mushy texture, and is mostly used in soups and salads. Its texture is not suitable for stir frying. Soft tofu is little bit firmer than the silken version. It can be easily crumbled into small pieces, and can be substituted for scrambled eggs. Even sandwich filling can be made with this type of tofu. As the name rightly suggests, firm tofu is firm in texture, and is available in three types - firm, medium firm, and extra firm. This type of tofu can be easily cut, and used for stir frying, or as a replacement in meat dishes.
Soft tofu can be made firmer, by draining the extra water, and pressing it with a heavy object. So, choosing the right type of tofu for your recipe is very important. Tofu can be baked, fried, roasted, steamed, broiled, ground, mashed, whipped, deep-fried, and barbecued. But eating raw tofu is not advisable. You have to steam it for at least five minutes, before consumption. You must also try to buy fresh tofu, for best results.
Tofu Stir Fry
Get fresh firm tofu and drain the water in it. Cut it into half inch cubes, and place the pieces on a soft cloth, that can absorb moisture. Take a wok and add a teaspoon of cooking oil. You may also cook tofu in a pan, but make sure to use a high sided one. It is better to use groundnut oil for preparing tofu stir fry. As the oil gets warm, add the tofu pieces, and cook them over medium heat. You have to turn the pieces in between, so that they get fried evenly. Make sure to turn the pieces gently, to avoid crumbling.
Once the tofu pieces are done, remove them from the wok. Add frozen stir fry vegetables to the hot wok, and cook for four to five minutes. Put the fried tofu pieces into the wok, and cook with the vegetables for another five minutes. Your tofu stir fry is ready.
For this purpose, you need firm tofu, soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, green chillies, and green onion. Drain the tofu and cut it into half inch cubes. Use a steamer to steam the tofu pieces for around ten minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the soy sauce mixture, by combining two tablespoons of soy sauce, one teaspoon each of sesame oil and sesame seeds, chopped green onion (one) and two green chillies (chopped). Once the tofu pieces are ready, remove them from the steamer, and serve hot with this soy sauce mixture.
Cooking Tofu for Babies
Tofu is usually not given to babies below the age of ten months. It should be avoided in babies with allergies. Others may prepare tofu for babies, according to the following steps. Always make sure to buy fresh tofu for babies, and avoid storing it for future use. Cube tofu and saute the pieces in olive oil. You may also add seasonings. Another method is to steam and crumble tofu, before mixing it with fruits, like bananas and apples. You may also add tofu to soups and broth meant for babies. It is always better to seek the opinion of your pediatrician, regarding use of tofu as baby food.
Drain and cut tofu, and place the pieces on greased cookie sheets. Bake them in an oven that is preheated to 400 °F, till the tofu pieces become golden in color. Crumbled firm tofu can be added to stews. In that case, cook the tofu for 15 minutes. In order to broil firm tofu, cut it into slices, and apply flour along with spices. Place the pieces on an oiled broiler pan, and broil in the oven (on high), until the pieces develop a golden brown crust.