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'The Tofu Cookbook' helps unravel the oddity of tofu's taste

This is the book cover of 'The Tofu Cookbook' by Leah Leneman
This is the book cover of 'The Tofu Cookbook' by Leah Leneman
HarperCollinsPublishers

'The Tofu Cookbook' by Leah Leneman

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Ask a vegetarian, "Why do you like tofu?" and the responses may vary. But first there will be a pause to try to describe why the bland bean curd is a popular choice for vegan and vegetarian refrigerators.

The first time plain tofu is tried, it'll taste like unsweetened marshmallows -- soft, no flavor and off-white. But with the correct preparation, spices and texture, tofu is a pretty tasty meal choice for many, including omnivores who just want to try something new.

"The Tofu Cookbook" by Leah Leneman breaks down the differences between silken (soft) tofu, medium tofu and firm tofu. Other options include smoked tofu, marinated tofu, fermented tofu, frozen tofu and deep-fried tofu. Although the book was written in 1992 and references to some of these choices are still easier to find in Britain and Chinese supermarkets than in America, none of these options are difficult to prepare at home for an intermediate tofu cook.

For cooks who are looking for other options to use tofu in, Leneman introduces soya (soy) milk, soy yogurt, soy mayonnaise, bean curd sheets, tempeh, soy sauce, miso and soy cheese.

The rest of the book is filled with over 150 recipes of tofu meals for every occasion -- soups, dips, salads, British dishes, American dishes, Mexican-style dishes, Indian-style dishes, Chinese-style dishes and desserts. And for those who want to make the entire meal from scratch, Leneman provides instructions about how to make tofu from soybeans.

The lack of pictures may hurt the excitement of making some recipes, but the mouth-watering tofu cheesecake on the book cover should be worth the hunger for tofu desserts at least.

Outside of cool tofu recipes, another thing that the book is good for doing is helping tasters figure out which tofu texture they like most. Some just may not be able to handle silken (soft tofu) but enjoy the chewy taste of recently defrosted extra firm tofu (the texture is like chicken). Others may lean more towards the middle with the medium texture of tofu. For most, the recipe will make the decision for them.

"The Tofu Cookbook" is a useful reference tool for start-up vegetarian and vegan meals, and most of the grocery items are easily accessible in the everyday grocery store.

Follow Shamontiel on Pinterest for all of her latest Chicago vegetarian entries, or subscribe to her Chicago Vegetarian channel at the top of this page. Also, follow her "Diet & Exercise" and "Vegetarian World" Pinterest boards.

Follow Shamontiel on Pinterest for all of her latest Chicago nutrition and fitness entries, or subscribe to her Chicago Diet and Exercise channel at the top of this page. Also, follow her @BlackHealthNews.