Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Ubiqutous, Lurking Soybean

You can't swing a dead cat without here hitting a block of tofu. (Monty Python as a veg*n)

I like Tofu, but I have discovered that the Japanese view of how to use tofu is very, very limited to the confines of their "shokubunka"-food culture. Frankly, I've made wonderful sweet potato pies, chocolate-pumpkin-goodness pies, tofu tacos, tofu italiano with red wine and maitake mushrooms, numerous casseroles, and an infinite number of curries all with that one special ingredient, TOFU. Besides, tofu gets a chicken-like texture if you freeze it (sliced) and then defrost it. I LOVE that in my Tofu Chaat, formerly "Chicken Chaat" recipe. <3<3

Even if you aren't a veg*n of some sort, tofu is super-cheap compared to beef or chicken in Japan (on the order of half price of meat for the same weight!) and as such, worth a try. There's also the added benefit of disposal. Garbage in Japan is strictly separated and "nama", or "raw" garbage is picked up at most 2 times a week.
Where does it stay in the meantime??
In your apartment. You can NOT leave your trash outside your door, or in the hall, or somewhere else. It goes out on trash day and ONLY trash day.
Nothing like the smell of rotting meat wafting into your apartment from outside on your balcony in the spring and summer. (I was a carnivore the first 2 years here. I *know*.)
Tofu, on the other hand... Well, you get the picture. There's no "bad" pieces, or the blood-soaked towels that sit under the meat to soak up the "juices", or grease, so nothing to throw out in a bag except the plastic container it came in.

I loathe cleaning and I like cheap (when it's HEALTHY) so it's win-win for me! Anyway, give it a try. It's cheap and not pumped full of bovine growth hormone or antibiotics. ;)

We would call this "Firm" in the USA. Good for stirfry or slicing and baking. Will break apart with hard stirring like in a curry.

We would call this "Silk" in the USA. Breaks apart the minute you try to handle it. Only good for baking and hiding it in other foods as it can be easily and completely crushed into a white...paste. This is due to the higher water content of Kinu tofu.

Cooked or Lightly Fried tofu. Great for most main-dish recipes. More compressed (less water) than Momen; and due to the slight pre-cooking, more meatier in texture and taste.
WARNING: The consistency of Yakidofu is entirely dependent on the manufacturer. I've bought yakidofu that held together only as well as momen, but the good stuff is far more compressed (less water), and can take a good beating when you put it in curries.

Deep fried tofu that is hollowed out for use as a "shell" for stuffing. Never used it myself because of the deep-frying.

Besides, the basic pointers I gave up in the "GARDEN.." section, I would suggest this site. My favorite recipe and veg*n "support" site:

Thanks again for stopping into my little corner of the 'net, and Happy Browsing!!

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