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How to Cook Tofu

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Q.  I am interested in cooking a non-Oriental dish using tofu. I have never used it before and would like more information about what it is and how I can use it in my cooking.

A. Tofu is made from the curdled liquid extracted from ground and cooked soybeans. As in the process of making cheese, the whey is drained and pressed from the curds, and the result is a squishy, creamy substance that is exceptionally versatile in cooking. It has a very mild flavor, and tends to take on the flavors of the foods with which it is cooked. Tofu is also known as soybean curd or simply bean curd. It is quite perishable and should be used within about a week of purchase.

Tofu has been a mainstay of Asian cooking, especially so in Japan, and is a staple for many vegetarians, as well. It is high in protein, low in calories and sodium, and cholesterol free. Like anything else, tofu has its detractors. Its blandness and texture have made many dismiss it as an uninteresting filler. The title of The No-Tofu Vegetarian Cookbook (Canada, UK) obviously plays off this sentiment.

Yet tofu can add nutrition and substance to many dishes. There are all sorts of tofu recipes available online — both Asian and non-Asian.

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