The History of Tofu in China

ofu, also known as soybean curd, is a soft, cheese-like food made by curdling fresh hot soymilk with a coagulant. Traditionally, the curdling agent used to make tofu is nigari, a compound found in natural ocean water, or calcium sulfate, a naturally occurring mineral. Curds also can be produced by acidic foods like lemon juice or vinegar. The curds then are generally pressed into a solid block.

Soft Tofu vs. Firm Tofu

Tofu breaks down into two main types: soft and firm.

  • Soft tofu: Has a soft creamy texture and is easily liquefied in the blender, can be used in place of sour cream, yogurt, and soft cheeses such as cottage cheese, ricotta, or cream cheese. It can also be prepared in the same way as scrambled eggs or used as a sandwich spread.
  • Firm tofu: Has a tougher spongelike texture. It cooks in a matter of minutes and can be sautéed, braised, simmered, fried, or grilled. It can also be made into a paste for use as a dip or spread. Firm tofu keeps its shape better and is easier to slice and cut into cubes than soft tofu, which is more easily crumbled and mashed.

Tofu has very little flavor or smell on its own. As such, tofu can be prepared either in savoury or sweet dishes, acting as a canvas for presenting the flavours of the other ingredients used.

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