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Simple, Flavorful Tofu Dishes

Simple, Flavorful Tofu Dishes

Tofu is packed with protein and can serve as a meat replacement. It lasts a long time in the fridge and is relatively undaunting to cook. But there’s one problem people tend to cite.

To all those who complain that tofu has no taste: you’re completely right.

Saying that plain firm tofu has no intrinsic flavor is like saying that white bread has no flavor. Or rice. Or pasta with no sauce. Just like the foods I’ve named, tofu can either be paired with things that give it flavor, or else be prepared itself in ways that infuse it with flavor.

As the daughter of immigrant Chinese parents, I’d like to share a couple of simple but flavorful ways my family enjoys tofu.

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image via

Fans of Asian cuisine will probably recognize this next one: Mapo tofu is a dish from Sichuan, a region in China renowned for its spicy cuisine. It’s a stir-fry of tofu with an oily but thin red sauce, peppercorns, and chili broad bean paste. It is a classic example of Sichuan “ma la” (麻辣)spiciness, a flavor that isn’t just hot, but also a little numbing—great for the adventurous eater. Mapo tofu is typically prepared with meat, but can be easily adapted to vegetarian or vegan diets. You can easily find a pre-prepared sauce to flavor your dish.

Fermented bean curd (sounds strange, tastes strangely wonderful) is a type of tofu that has been fermented to give it a salty, complex flavor. The two most common types are red and white, with the white kind having a slightly fishier flavor. It’s soft enough to be spread, and can be eaten with toast. You could also stir-fry it with vegetables like cauliflower. One quick high-protein breakfast is a hard-boiled egg dipped one bite at a time in fermented bean curd. Of course, there’s the classic red fermented tofu with plain rice porridge.

Lastly, try tofu skin, or bean curd wraps. These can be used like spring roll wrappers to contain fillings like carrots, mushrooms, shredded cabbage, and can be either steamed or stir-fried. They also taste good on their own, and soak up flavor easily.

I hope these simple recipes will encourage you to try more tofu!

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