What do you think of when you hear the word “tofu”? Do you think of Japan? Do you think of vegetarians and vegans and all those who avoid meat and embrace tie dye?
Do you think of sad Thanksgivings with fake birds on the table? Would it blow your mind to think that the secret to my delicious, vegan-friendly, dairy-free, gluten-free decadent dark chocolate mousse is tofu?
Well, that’s exactly what my secret is.
Tofu has been around for thousands of years, first originating in China’s Han dynasty before making its way to Korea, Japan, and the rest of Southeast Asia. Also known as “bean curd”, blocks of tofu are made from coagulated soymilk.
Tofu begins with choosing the right soybean, most commonly a variety known as Shinonome, which are cooked at the beginning of the tofu-making process. The reason that this must be done is because soybeans contain certain enzymes, a type of protein that helps chemical reactions occur more quickly, that are indigestible (and make you fart a lot); these are removed by the initial cooking. After this step, the beans are dried and then rehydrated so that they can be blended into a puree. The puree is then strained and the liquid, commonly known as “soymilk”, is removed. The material left after straining is left alone to coagulate. Once the soybeans have coagulated enough, they are placed into sheets and pressed. The more pressure that is used in pressing the coagulate, the firmer the resulting tofu. Silken tofu is barely pressed at all, whereas extra firm tofu has the living daylights pressed out of it.
Tofu became quite popular in Western countries, especially as vegetarianism caught on more and more. Aside from being dairy-free, tofu is also relatively low in calories yet high in protein. Not only that, tofu can easily take on flavors that are infused into it, making it the perfect substitute for deliciously secretive dairy-free recipes.
I hope you all enjoy, guilt-free of course ;)