Tofu (soy curd)

Tofu (Chinese for "dau-fu", Korean for "tu-bu") is one of the most common foods in Asian cuisine. It is a vegetable protein-rich curdled decoction of mashed soybeans.     

In the production of soy curd, tofu is obtained either by adding nigari (a thickening substance evaporated from seawater and consisting of calcium sulfate) to hot soy milk, or by adding lemon juice or vinegar to soy powder. Then the tofu is pressed in the form of briquettes, hermetically packed and so sold. 

I must say that, since raw tofu itself (without vinegar and lemon) does not have a characteristic taste and smell, spices are often added to it. To do this, before pressing, it is flavored with paprika and nuts or dipped for a short time in a marinade made from soy sauce, spices and lemon juice.

In general, there are several types of tofu: 

1. Dense tofu (contains 10% protein and most often includes various additives), similar in consistency to mozzarella or cottage cheese, has a soft, delicate aroma and is suitable for smoking and frying, including deep-fried. 

There are two types of dense tofu: 
1) "western" - contains little water and has a high density; 
2) "asian" - contains a lot of water and, accordingly, is characterized by a lower density. Both types of dense tofu are perfectly combined with vegetables and can replace meat for people who adhere to vegetarianism. In European countries, there is a special demand for smoked tofu.

2. Soft, or silky, tofu (contains 5% protein and a lot of water), the structure is more like a pudding. This tofu is usually added in chopped form to soups, and in combination with ginger syrup, it is eaten as a separate dessert. In addition to the above, it is successfully used for making sauces and steamed dishes.

3. Chinese tofu, which emits a pungent smell and is sometimes obtained from genetically modified soy. This tofu is most popular in Shanghai cuisine.

Interestingly, it is still unknown who first made tofu. One thing is clear: this product is of Chinese origin and was invented around 200 BC. 

Gradually, tofu became a part of Chinese culture, thanks to its remarkable properties, it took a strong place in cooking and folk medicine there. From China, it came to Japan (1500 years ago), and then, in the 16th century, it was brought by merchants to Europe. And although it can not be said that today Europeans often use tofu in cooking, nevertheless, along with the growing interest in Asian and in particular Japanese cuisine, it is being paid more and more attention.