Are you new to tofu and wondering what tofu tastes like? Are you not confident you will enjoy it? Do you want to learn more about tofu and its nutrition? Or maybe you are curious to find new ways to include tofu into your everyday meals?
Look no further! Whether you have been using tofu for years or want to start using it, this blog has something for you!
This article was written by Neha Benwait, Ryerson University Nutrition Student. Edited and reviewed by Veronica Rouse, MAN, RD, CDE.
- What Is Tofu?
- Nutrients In Tofu
- Heart Health Benefits Of Tofu
- What Does Tofu Taste Like?
- Texture Of Tofu
- Dietary Preferences
- Other Important Notes About Tofu
- How To Cook It
- Final Thoughts
What Is Tofu?
Let’s start off with some of the basics. What is tofu?
Tofu is made from soybeans. The process involves cooking soybeans for a period of time until they are in a liquid state, or made into soy milk. To solidify or coagulate the liquid, the most traditional additive is often calcium sulphate (1).
Tofu is a plant-based source of protein and contains many nutrients, making it a healthy option to include in your diet.
Nutrients In Tofu
Soybeans contain minerals like iron, zinc and calcium, as well as a variety of B vitamins (1). This makes tofu a great source of vitamins and minerals.
Tofu is made from legumes and therefore contains plant based protein. Replacing some animal-based protein sources with high-quality plant-based protein will reduce the amount of saturated fat you eat.
Now that you know tofu is plant-based, you might be wondering if it contains a lot of protein.
This makes it a great replacement to animal-based protein.
Soybeans contain soy protein (1). Soy protein offers health benefits.
Soy protein can lower bad cholesterol, also known as low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (3). In fact, eating, on average 25 grams of soy protein per day, can lower LDL levels by about 3% -4% which is a small but still significant amount (4). Lowering your LDL cholesterol can reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (3). This makes including tofu in your diet a heart-healthy choice.
Source Of Iron And Calcium
As mentioned earlier, soybeans contain many minerals like iron and calcium (1). During the process of making tofu, calcium salt can be added which results in a high calcium end product, making tofu a good source of calcium (2). Iron and calcium are often two minerals that can be difficult for vegans and vegetarians to consume in adequate amounts as they are more commonly found in animal-based products.
Since tofu contains these minerals, it can be a good choice to include especially in vegan or vegetarian dietary patterns.
Heart Health Benefits Of Tofu
Animal based protein often contains saturated fatty acids. Eating too much saturated fatty acids can increase ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels in the body (4,5). Adding tofu into the diet as a protein source will likely reduce the consumption of animal-based protein, therefore reducing saturated fat intake.
Foods made from soy contain polyunsaturated fatty acids (2). Many studies have shown that polyunsaturated fatty acids reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease (5). When polyunsaturated fatty acids replace saturated fatty acids, it lowers the level of bad cholesterol which is beneficial for heart health (5). In fact, tofu is one of 39 foods that can help unclog arteries.
Additionally, eating enough soy protein is a pillar component of the Portfolio dietary pattern, a way of eating that can significantly reduce LDL cholesterol (6).
Tofu is rich in polyunsaturated fats and low in saturated fats, which can have a beneficial impact on heart health.
What Does Tofu Taste Like?
The taste of tofu is similar whether it is raw or cooked.
What Does Tofu Taste Like: Raw Tofu Flavor
What does tofu taste like when it is raw? Raw tofu has a bland taste or known as being tasteless.
What Does Tofu Taste Like: Cooked Tofu Flavor
What does tofu taste like after it’s cooked? After cooking tofu, it still does not have much of a taste. In fact, it doesn’t taste like anything, it is a very neutral food.
Because it is a tasteless protein, it is very important to ADD flavor while cooking. It is porous, which means it absorbs the flavor of your choosing, making it essential to marinate it or season it. This is a critical step that many new tofu users skip.
Texture Of Tofu
Tofu is white or cream in color. There are many different kinds of tofu at the supermarket. You can purchase it in many different textures like silken, soft, medium, firm, and extra firm.
Silken tofu or soft silken tofu has the highest moisture content. It has a smooth and creamy texture. This makes a great addition to smoothies or to thicken other foods.
Soft tofu or soft block tofu is similar in texture to silken tofu, although it is slightly firmer.
Medium tofu or medium block tofu has a firmer texture than soft tofu, but overall, it is not very firm.
Firm tofu or firm tofu block has a harder texture to it. It can hold its shape, as it has less moisture.
Extra-firm tofu or extra- firm tofu block has the hardest texture of the different types of tofu talked about in this post. Extra-firm tofu holds its shape since it has a low amount of moisture.
Firm tofu and extra firm tofu are commonly used in recipes that involve cooking tofu because it is the most similar texture to animal protein, and is therefore used as an easy replacement for animal protein in popular dishes.
Tofu is suitable for a variety of dietary preferences.
Is Tofu Vegan?
Yes! Tofu is made from soybeans which are plant-based. This makes it suitable for a vegan dietary pattern.
Is Tofu Gluten-Free?
Tofu is naturally gluten-free. If you are following a gluten-free diet, be sure to check the package as it will indicate if the tofu is gluten-free and made in a gluten-free facility.
Is Tofu Dairy Free?
Tofu is also dairy-free. It is made from soybeans and does not have dairy products added to it.
Other Important Notes About Tofu
Where To Find Tofu At The Grocery Store
You can find tofu in the refrigerator section of grocery stores. It is usually in the produce section near other alternatives to meat.
How Is Tofu Stored?
Store unopened tofu in the refrigerator.
After cooking tofu, store it in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 3-4 months.
How Long Is Tofu’s Shelf Life?
An unopened package of tofu usually has a best-before date of around a month. The package should indicate the best before date.
Cost Of Tofu
Tofu is not very expensive. It usually costs around a few dollars, which makes it a great choice to purchase especially with rising food prices.
How To Cook It
Reasons I Love Cooking With Tofu
- Tofu is a very versatile ingredient. Add it to a variety of dishes, as it is tasteless and will absorb any flavor you are cooking with.
- Tofu is quick to cook, and can actually be consumed raw, making it ideal when you need to get a balanced meal on your table fast.
- It is a fantastic substitute for animal meat and a source of protein.
How To Press Tofu
It is possible that for a recipe, you might want to remove excess moisture from your tofu or might want to make it firmer. The removal of the excess liquid is typically done if you want to mimic a meat-like texture.
In this case, you might want to press tofu. Pressing tofu is a fairly simple process and does not require a lot of special equipment like a tofu press.
Pressing tofu involves placing paper towels or tea towels below and on top of the block of tofu to absorb the moisture that will come out during pressing. Then place a weight (heavy cookbooks for example) on the tofu which removes the moisture that was inside of it, making the tofu firmer.
This process takes around 15 minutes. Although the longer you can press the tofu, the more moisture will be removed.
Check out the first 15 seconds of this video to see how easy it is to press tofu!
You can cook tofu in many ways. Below you’ll find several Dietitian approved recipes using different cooking methods.
One of the many ways that you can cook tofu is to fry it. To make it more heart-healthy, check out these dietitian-approved stir-fried and air-fried recipes. Stir-frying and air frying at high heat results in a crunchy texture.
Check out this scrambled tofu recipe.
Another way to cook tofu is to bake it. Add baked tofu to your dinner plans with these recipes.
Try this Crispy Tofu Nugget recipe.
Tofu is a fantastic protein source to add to smoothies! Use silken soft tofu when making smoothies. Interested in other ways to create heart-healthy smoothies? Follow this guide on how to make smoothies for high blood pressure.
Or try this Watermelon Weight Loss Tofu Smoothie.
You can also check out this Berry Flavored Tofu Smoothie.
How To Flavor Your Tofu
As mentioned earlier when answering what does tofu taste like, we found out it does not have a strong flavor. This mild taste makes it a blank canvas to add flavors that you enjoy! Adding a marinade or ground spices can enhance the flavor. Try these Dietitian approved recipes for inspiration.
Marinade To Change The Taste Of Tofu
Marinading tofu is one great way to add flavor. Try these tofu recipes:
Check out this great Marinaded Tofu recipe.
Try this Tofu Marinade recipe.
Or try this Grilled Tofu recipe.
Use Spices To Change The Taste of Tofu
Enhance the flavor of tofu by adding spices.
Try this Buffalo Tofu recipe, perfect for a snack.
Check out this Spicy Tofu recipe.
Or try this great breakfast Sandwich recipe.
The plant-based and high protein characteristics of tofu make it a great option to include in a healthy diet. Additionally, tofu is low in saturated fat and high in vitamins and minerals and can be beneficial for heart health.
It is also suitable for a variety of dietary preferences.
When answering the question, what does tofu taste like, we learned that tofu comes in many different textures and can be cooked in a variety of ways, which makes it such a versatile ingredient. Best of all, you can customize it to your tastebuds.
Let me know in the comments why you like using tofu and your favorite way to cook it!