Every July 26th, since 2014, we celebrate International World Tofu Day. By Marie-Sophie Wingender
An initiative started by the Society for the Protection of Animals Canada, in order to emphasise the background and consequences of a diet based on animal products, as well as the advantages associated with a purely plant-based diet. As Canada’s largest non-profit organisation, their aim is to raise awareness and educate people about the right of all living beings have to be treated with the same respect as anyone else.
As you may know, an ever growing alternative for meat is tofu. It is originally from around China and has, for more than 2000 years, been considered an important plant-based staple food. Bean curd, which is another name for the food, is made from soy milk and produced during the milks coagulation. After that, the curd is pressed into white blocks and then packaged.
It has very weak taste and is almost odourless. Tofu can be cooked in many different ways to change its texture, depending on the method it can be anywhere from smooth and soft, to crispy. It can be seared, grilled, fried, steamed, and shaped, whatever you prefer.
Most of the world’s soybeans are grown in the United States, and a large proportion is genetically modified (GMO), it is a very healthy and a low carb alternative to meat, which contains lots of proteins. GMO crops have genes added to improve their growth, pest resistance, and ease of farming. If you’re worried about GMOs, try purchasing tofu that’s labelled organic and GMO-free. You can find tofu in any supermarket or Asian store, so it is not difficult to find.
If you want to preserve it, simply store it in your fridge while keeping it immersed in water. Try one of the following recipes to give tofu a try or meet up with your friends for a cooking night where you compare your recipes!
FRIED TOFU SANDWICH
Ingredients (for 4 servings) – 2 blocks tofu – 1/4 c. mustard – 1/4 c. hot sauce – 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar – 1 c. all-purpose flour – 1 tbsp. cornstarch – 2 tsp. chili powder – 1 1/2 tsp. pepper – 1 tsp. onion powder – 1/2 tsp. baking powder – 1/2 tsp. garlic powder – oil, for frying – 4 soft hamburger buns – green leaf lettuce
1. Arrange the tofu blocks in a single layer on a freezer-safe plate, or in a large plastic container and cover with plastic or a lid. Freeze until solid, at least 5 hours.
2. Remove tofu from freezer and let defrost completely, about 4 hours on the counter or overnight in refrigerator. Drain off any excess water that may have accumulated.
3. Arrange defrosted tofu in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with several sheets of paper towel. Place a few more layers of paper towels and another rimmed baking sheet on top of tofu. Weight the baking sheet with something heavy. Let drain, changing paper towels when saturated with water. Do this for at least 1 hour.
4. In a shallow bowl, whisk together Dijon mustard, pickle brine, hot sauce, and vinegar. In another shallow bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, cornstarch, chili powder, cayenne pepper, onion powder, baking powder, garlic powder, and ½ teaspoon salt.
5. Cut each piece of tofu crosswise into 2 planks; you should have 4 planks total. Working with one piece of tofu at a time, coat tofu in dry mixture then dip it in wet mixture. Return to dry mixture, then wet and one more time in the dry mixture. Place on a clean plate. Repeat with remaining tofu.
6. Pour oil into a large cast-iron skillet until it comes half an inch up the side of skillet. Place over medium-high heat. When oil is hot and just starts to shimmer, reduce heat to medium. Fry tofu, turning once, until golden on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate to drain.
COCONUT MILK & TOFU CURRY
Ingredients (for 4 servings) – 1 c. jasmine rice – 2 tbsp. oil – 1 lb. tofu, sliced and drained, then cut into cubes – Cornstarch – 1 head broccoli, florets removed – 2 bell peppers, chopped – 1 yellow summer squash – 2 tbsp. red curry paste – 16 oz. coconut milk
1. Cook rice according to package directions.
2. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Toss cubed tofu in cornstarch to lightly coat. Cook tofu until golden and crispy, about 5 minutes, then transfer to a plate.
3. Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in skillet and add broccoli, bell peppers, and squash. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, 6 minutes. Season with salt. Add curry paste and stir until vegetables are coated, then pour in coconut milk. Simmer until slightly thickened, 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning.
4. Divide rice and curry among four bowls and garnish with cilantro.