Despite increasing popularity, tofu can sometimes get a bit of a bad rap in the western world. Seen by many as a fringe vegan or vegetarian food, opinions are easily coloured by that one bad experience at the hands of a confused chef or the mercy of an inferior tofu brand.
There are a lot of myths out there when it comes to tofu so we’ve decided to tackle the top ten common complaints and set the record straight:
1. It tastes and smells ‘sour’
This is a big one – many people have been put off tofu for life because of a sour smell or taste. This may be due to the tofu ‘going off’, which can happen if the tofu has not being pasteurised properly or stored at too high a temperature or kept too long after opening.
Also, just like cheese, the taste of tofu depends on its quality and the ingredients used. Inferior tofu can overuse a key ingredient, nigari (also known as MgCl or Magnesium Chloride), which is rich in minerals drawn from evaporated seawater and can be bitter. In fact, the word ‘nigari’ comes from the Japanese word for bitterness, nigai.
Good tofu goes easy on the nigari or uses an alternative ingredient to eliminate any sour or bitter tastes.
Earth Source Foods note: We only use nigari in our SILKEN TOFU – but a very small, delicately balanced amount to avoid any sourness. We use CaSO4 (Calcium Sulphate) derived from natural gypsum in our other tofu products.
2. Tofu is bland
The blandness of tofu is a bit of a misconception. Great tofu smells and tastes sweet and nutty on its own. It is very subtle, and is often accused of being tasteless.
The brilliant thing about tofu is that you can do almost anything with it, as it takes on the flavour of whatever you’re cooking. Tofu is one of the most versatile foods on the market, allowing you to get really creative.
Earth Source Foods note: Try our tofu alongside some other cheaper brands and we’re confident you’ll be able to taste the difference.
3. I like tofu but there’s not enough protein in it
This is a big bugbear of carnivores everywhere. In fact, tofu is rich in protein. While 28% of lean beef is protein, tofu averages around 10%, with quality tofu up around 16%.
Paired with protein-containing vegetables like broccoli, mushrooms and leafy greens, tofu gives meat a run for its money.
Earth Source Foods note: Most recent independent testing of our PRESSED TOFU came in exceptionally high at 17.9% protein, so we’re pitching at the high-end of the tofu protein scale.
4. It’s too hard to cook with tofu
There’s an old saying: “tofu: you either love it, or you haven’t prepared it well”. It’s true you have to learn some new skills when cooking with tofu but you probably had to do the same the first time you made lasagna.
Just like any ingredient, cooking with tofu can sometimes go wrong. There are plenty of tips out there to help hapless chefs, and once you master them, you’ll be adding tofu to anything you can.
5. All tofu is the same
All tofu is not equal. Saying all tofu is the same is like saying all cheeses are identical.
Tofu comes in many shapes, sizes and consistencies. From extra firm to silky, spiced, smoked and marinated, there is a tofu for every occasion and every palate.
Earth Source Foods note: Our tofu range includes SILKEN, PRESSED, FIRM, SOFT and – our newest release – SMOKED.
6. I need more nutrients in my food than tofu can offer
We already busted the myth about protein so let’s look at other nutrients that can be found in tofu…
Tofu is super-rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, folate, zinc and vitamin B1. In fact, a recent analysis of the US population and its dietary habits said adults would increase their intake of folate, vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, iron and fibre if they replaced their meat and dairy intake with soy, including tofu.
Earth Source Foods note: Meat eaters can enjoy tofu too. There’s no reason why every diet should not benefit from tofu. Don’t think of it as just a meat replacement.
7. Tofu is expensive
Compared to the price of meat, the prices of tofu can vary greatly, from being a lot cheaper per serve to going head to head. However, tofu is not typically more expensive than other sources of protein.
Good quality tofu that uses refined methods of production can cost a little more than inferior products, but makes up for it with improved taste and significantly improved nutrition.
Earth Source Foods note: We’re definitely not the cheapest tofu on the market but the taste and nutritional value of our tofu justifies the production cost – we wouldn’t produce tofu any other way.
8. Tofu is over-processed
There is no getting around the fact that, to make really good tofu, there is some processing involved. However, unlike some deli meats and sausages, tofu does not have any added hormones, antibiotics or animal products.
The production of tofu can be likened to that of a lot of good cheeses: the process in minimal and the end result delicious.
Earth Source Foods note: Our tofu starts with Certified Demeter Bio-dynamic soybeans and then the magic actually happens in the processing.
9. I don’t know where to find great tofu
There was once a time when asking for tofu at the local grocery store would get you confused looks or directions to the frozen section. Thankfully, as tofu has become more mainstream and western diets are incorporating more and more tofu, it can now be found more readily.
Specialty brands often sell their products at health food stores, organic grocers, supermarkets and delicatessens.
Earth Source Foods note: Ask for Earth Source Foods tofu by name or contact us for your nearest stockist. Unfortunately, we’re only available in Australia (sorry, rest of world!)
10. Tofu isn’t good for desserts
On the contrary, if there’s one thing that tofu does well it is desserts. Silken tofu is a delicate and creamy ingredient that perfectly suits those with a sweet tooth.
From tarts, puddings, ice creams, cakes and more, there is a silken tofu dessert recipe that will help you finish off any meal with a bang.
Earth Source Foods note: Prepare to have your mind blown with our Silken Tofu with Ginger Syrup recipe.