Tofu is becoming somewhat of a widespread phenomenon and nearly everyone has heard of it, but few have actually tasted it or know how it can be cooked. In America, tofu recipes are most commonly consumed by vegetarians and vegans. However, tofu has long been a staple in the diets of those in Japan and China. Nutritionists are now beginning to examine the role that tofu has played in the diets of these people and have found that it may contribute to their healthy lifestyles. Which raises the question: should you incorporate more tofu into your diet?
Tofu was first and foremost an Asian delicacy, discovered in China during the Tíang or early Sung dynasty. (This means it was discovered sometime between 618 and 1125 AD). Somebody mixed sea salt with bean milk, and the result became an extremely popular meat substitute for Buddhists. Once the people in Asia became aware of its nutritional value, tofu became a staple in their diets. The dish was most likely spread to other parts of Asia by Buddhist missionaries.
In ancient times tofu served as a meat substitute for those who had religious obligations against the consumption of meat. Today, it serves the very same purpose, except the reasoning is not religious. Many people have moral obligations against eating meat, and have thus chosen to lead a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
For those who have made this choice, tofu is a very popular ingredient featured in all kinds of recipes. It is a great substitute, not only for meat, but also for various dairy products. Because tofu comes in a wide variety of textures, it is easily adaptable for many different cooking purposes. The ingredient can be used to create substitutes for eggs, mayonnaise, milk, meat, yogurt, heavy cream, cottage cheese, soft cheeses, salad dressings, meatballs, toppings, sauces, pie fillings, and even puddings.
Tofu is one of the most diverse ingredients and it is for this reason that it appeals to so many people. Its texture allows it to soak up the flavours of other dishes and ingredients. Also, because it comes in both firm and soft varieties, it can be used to make anything from soup to veggie burgers.
Though tofu has gotten a reputation for being only for vegetarians, vegans, or health freaks, the truth is that everyone would probably like it if they gave it a chance. This ingredient is not only healthy and versatile, but it is delicious as well.