10 Different Types of Tofu To Try
While many people in the Western world would recognise tofu solely as a health food item that many try to avoid, Japanese tofu is very different. In Japan, tofu is cooked in many different ways, transforming it into a flavourful treat that is considered one of the staple foods of the country. Tofu offers a wide range of delicious and nutritious possibilities, from deep-fried sweet treats to healthy tofu stir-fries. In Japan, tofu can also be referred to as ‘dofu’, and these are exactly the same things, just pronounced slightly differently!
Many will assume that they will not enjoy eating tofu; however, Japanese tofu is a diverse ingredient that you must sample at least once – we’re sure you’ll fall in love with it! To help you learn more about this incredible food, we have taken a look at ten of the different types of tofu that are available or that can be made, and how these are used in different dishes.
Otherwise known as silken tofu, kinu tofu is a soft tofu made from heating a mixture of soy milk and nigari salt bitterns coagulant until it sets. Kinu tofu is creamy and sweet with a delicate flavour, and is often added to simple dishes such as miso soup or enjoyed in cubes with soy sauce to dip. In Western cuisine, this is the type of tofu used as a meat substitute in the diets of many vegans and vegetarians. In Japan, this type of tofu is also used to make desserts, including ice cream and tofu pudding.
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Different from most tofu, goma tofu is made from sesame seed paste, as opposed to soybeans. This type of tofu originates from a Buddhist tradition that saw novice monks grind sesame seeds down into a fine powder – a fairly labour-intensive task! The result is worth the work though, as the goma tofu tastes rich and the sesame flavours come through strong. It is enjoyed chilled with a small spoonful of wasabi and a dash of soy sauce.
Momen tofu is a type of silken tofu that has been squished down to remove any excess liquid. This gives momen tofu a much firmer and slightly rougher texture than other silken tofu, like kinu. As such, this type of tofu is often found in dishes that require frying or grilling, as the tofu pieces can crisp up or absorb flavours far better than softer tofu. Momen tofu is used to make other types of tofu including:
Yaki Tofu is a grilled momen tofu. Once grilled, the tofu is able to hold its shape better, so it can be added to broths with other ingredients, such as Japanese hot pot or sukiyaki.
Cubes of momen tofu are coated in potato starch or flour and deep fried. This creates a bite of tofu that is crispy on the outside but soft and silky on the inside. These deep-fried tofu chunks are then served in a dashi broth, adding some sweet and savoury flavours.
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Koya tofu is a freeze-dried tofu that, like goma tofu, comes from Buddhist origins. Originating from a Buddhist temple on Mount Koya, this type of tofu is rehydrated before being cooked in a broth and served with soy sauce. Unlike the smooth and silky textures of many tofu types, koya tofu has more of a spongey texture.
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Aburaage are pieces of tofu that have been deep-fried until they form an air pocket. Almost no soft, white tofu will be left, leaving just a golden pouch of tofu. Aburaage is most commonly used to make inarizushi – sweet tofu pouches filled with sushi rice.
Another deep-fried tofu dish, atsuage is thickly sliced pieces of momen tofu that are fried without any coating. This simply adds a crispy exterior and golden colouring to the tofu, as well as making it a little firmer. It can be eaten alone, or as chunks in soups and salads.
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A by-product from making tofu, okara is the pulp that is left over after the soybeans have been filtered to make soy milk and tofu. Okara has high levels of protein and fibre, making it a popular meat alternative, and the ingredient is also used to bulk out dishes. As well as being added to soups or sautéed, okara is also added to baked goods, such as cookies.
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Also known as tofu skin, Yuba is another by-product from the tofu production process. When the soy milk is heated, a skin forms on the top, and this is taken to be enjoyed either fresh or dried. Fresh yuba has a smooth texture and mild flavours and can be enjoyed on its own or eaten like sashimi with soy sauce to dip. Alternatively, the yuba can be dried and then boiled or fried at a later date and served in dishes like soup. Yuba is also often used in sushi, acting as a wrapper for other ingredients, similar to nori.
If you would like to try out a variety of different types of tofu, then check out the range of fresh tofu in the UK available online at Oriental Mart!