A soft to semi-soft food product which is actually soybean curd and commonly referred to as bean curd
. Fresh Tofu is made from a milky substance extracted from soybeans, while it is still raw and in a fresh form. The processed Tofu uses the soybean milk which is coagulated so it forms curds, which are processed by pressing the curds to shape them into blocks of Tofu. Varying amounts of moisture are extracted from Tofu resulting in basically 3 types of Tofu textures; soft, firm or extra firm. Soft Tofu which may also be referred to as silken, Kinugoshi or Japanese-style Tofu, has a pudding-like texture and can be easily blended into other ingredients. Firm Tofu, referred to as Asian firm Tofu, is much like a piece of pork or beef in consistency but still can be easily cut or pressed. Tofu that is extra firm is stiffer in texture, but still breaks apart easily when thinly sliced and is often referred to as Western firm or dried Tofu. Since all forms of Tofu can be cut easily, this product works well for use in beverages, baked goods, salad dressings, soups, and spreads. A traditional Tofu, also referred to as Momen or Chinese-style Tofu, is available in soft, firm and extra-firm textures. It is commonly packaged with water and is better suited for use in recipes where it is to be cubed or cut to be broiled, grilled or stir-fried. Processed Tofu provides a slightly nutty flavor when eaten without seasoning. However, it has an added ability to take on the flavor of the food with which it is being cooked so it can be prepared to taste similar to a wide variety of different foods.
Since Tofu is easily digested, cholesterol free, high in protein, and low in sodium and calories, it is a very healthy food to consider. Depending on the soft to firm texture of Tofu, which can be changed by freezing or pressing the product, it can easily be mashed, diced, sliced, or spread, making it very versatile to use in many types of dishes, such as soups, casseroles, sandwiches, salads, dips, sauces, and stir-fries.
As more consumers have restricted diets or simply desire to reduce and/or eliminate specific food ingredients from their diet, Tofu manufacturers have responded with a variety of food products made from Tofu, as they attempt to closely resemble meat and other food products. Products such as luncheon slices (turkey, bologna, pepperoni, salami alternatives), Tofu dogs and patties (hot dog and hamburger alternatives), ground round (ground meat alternative), nuggets (breaded chicken nugget alternatives), breakfast links, patties and slices, (sausage and bacon alternatives), shredded or sliced Tofu (cheese flavored slices and topping alternatives), Tofu chili (chili alternative), pickled, sweet, and marinated Tofu are a few of the products available that are made with processed Tofu.