Taking the mystery out of TOFU!

If you want a fast and easy meal, you really can’t beat tofu.

Unfamiliar with the tofu? I bet you're not! Because, if you've eaten soup at an Asian restaurant (or any one of a number of other dishes), odds are you've eaten tofu.

Well, now it is time to enjoy tofu at home.

So what's so special about tofu? Made from the curds of soybean milk, it is low in calories and cost and high in protein and nutrients. Tofu is pretty bland (think white bread) which actually is a bonus; add pretty much any flavors you like and your tofu will instantly merge with them. Meaning tofu is incredibly versatile.

So versatile, in fact, that I plan to prove the point by spending the next two weeks throwing all sorts of vegetarian tofu recipes at you. And if you decide to open your own restaurant, well, don't blame me.

Let's start with the basics. Like how to buy, store, and cook with the stuff . . .

Buying tofu
Tofu comes in a variety of textures from silken to extra firm. The silken texture is often used to make creamy deserts. Personally, I’ve never had much luck in this area, so if anyone has any tips or recipes, please let me know. The firmer textures, which tend to hold their shapes, are typically used for main courses. And I’ve had all sorts of success here.

When I buy the stuff, I inevitably look for firm and organic.

Storing and preparing tofu
Storing is easy: Just pop it in the fridge. Preparing for cooking is only slightly trickier: Drop the tofu into a paper towel-lined colander placed in your sink, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let the excess whey drip away for an hour or so.

You do this to minimize the amount of moisture which, in turn, will increase the capacity of the tofu to absorb whatever flavors you add to your dish. In other words, think of the stuff like a sponge.

Cooking with tofu
Now, my standby tofu recipe is a vegetarian curry tofu. If I’ve got some lassi around and any leftover jasmine rice and vegetables which I can nuke, I can have this on the table in ten minutes or less. Of course, I act like it took hours, but I was just watching reruns of Ab Fab.

Next up, a tofu recipe from the queen, herself. Yum yum!