What Is Tofu And How Is It Made?

By Luka E May 10, 2021

Tofu is a delicious and often overlooked ingredient that works well in a vast range of dishes. Many westerners think of tofu as being bland, but we couldn’t disagree more! 

What is Tofu?

Tofu, or dòufu (豆腐) in Chinese, can be translated as “bean curd,” and that’s exactly what it is. It’s a super affordable source of iron, calcium (or magnesium – depending on which coagulant is used), and protein, making it a lifesaving staple for vegans. 

Image courtesy of June Xie @ delish.com

How is Tofu Made?

Tofu is made from soybeans in 3 stages. The process is similar to that of normal cheese, and variations in the technique and treatment of the soy produce different tofu products.

  1. Soak clean soybeans and grind them down in the water. Bil the mixture to form cooked soy milk.
  2. A salt coagulant, such as magnesium chloride, calcium chloride (nigari) or calcium sulfate (gypsum) is added to make the milk form curds.
  3. Lastly, press the curds to form tofu.
Image courtesy of June Xie @ delish.com

Types of Tofu

We, westerners, are mainly only exposed to a limited variety of tofu products. There are, however, many types of tofu to experiment with:

  1. Boxed tofu can be found in three different varieties: silken, medium and firm. 
  2. Smoked Tofu is more flavorful and is often salted or spiced. It goes well in salads or even on its own as a side dish. 
  3. Yuba is a dried, brittle form of tofu that can be soaked overnight to become soft and malleable. Its flavor is like concentrated soy cream. 
  4. Fermented tofu, or fǔrǔ (腐乳) is tofu soaked in brine and is salty, pungent and soft. 
Image courtesy of June Xie @ delish.com

And that’s everything to know about tofu! Hopefully, some of you will give it a try if you haven’t already.