We’ve talked about why good tofu can be compared to fine wine – but how do you know if you’ve purchased good quality tofu?
While some Asian cultures have enjoyed thousands of years of tofu consumption and are attuned to the texture and taste of this highly versatile food, other cultures – such as ours in Australia – are still refining palates to the introduction of tofu into our diets. Eating inferior quality tofu may cause someone to throw up their hands in resignation and proclaim all tofu is not to their liking.
But that’s simply because they don’t know what tofu should be like.
Remember Grandma’s cooking sherry and how it was the brunt of many family dinner jokes? Compare that to proper Spanish-made sherry and you won’t believe these two styles of drink could even bear the same name. That’s what a difference in quality can mean, and the same argument applies to tofu.
Following are some general tasting notes that you should bear in mind to ensure your tofu always makes the grade. We promise, once you’ve eaten good quality tofu – true tofu – you will never turn back.
There are many who will say texture is one of the most important things about tofu. Good texture is tantamount to tofu holding its shape and its integrity as part of a dish or meal preparation. But, what is good texture in tofu?
As you will know, there are various styles of tofu that all have different qualities and purposes but, regardless of the style, there should be a definable smoothness and silkiness of texture to your tofu. Words like ‘luscious’ or ‘luxurious’ describe tofu that is of a high quality.
On the other hand, if your tofu could be considered chalky and/or crumbly (more like the consistency of a feta cheese), then your tofu is of a lesser standard.
Many people accuse tofu of being tasteless but that is not true – tofu has its own unique taste, although never strong or pronounced. Tofu is designed to make a good meal better, and it does so without grandstanding or calling attention to itself.
Your tofu should have clean and fresh characteristics that are very pleasant on the tongue. Words that people usually use to describe good quality tofu are ‘subtle’ and ‘neutral’ with a ‘slight nuttiness’.
Even with tofu variations, such as Smoked Tofu, there should always be a subtlety to the flavour that adds a ‘blush’ to the taste – nothing overt. In the case of smoked tofu, this tastes as though the tofu has been sitting by a campfire.
If your tofu has a sour taste, this indicates that something is not right – a sign of a less than ideal tofu. The right shelf life is important because, after a period of time, the taste and texture of your tofu will degrade.
Similar to taste, any aroma associated with your tofu should be clean, fresh and subtle, which is in direct correlation with the taste of your tofu.
Never forget that good tofu is not like anything else you know, and that’s why it is so special. Make a culinary friend of tofu and you will have a friend for life.