I've never cooked with tofu.
Does anyone know of a good book I can check out that can get me started with tofu?
What brand and type do I buy? How do I cook it?
I'm pretty good in the kitchen and love to eat just about everything. I've had bean curd salads at Asian restaurants but admit to being a little intimidated preparing tofu at home.
Any tips would be much appreciated.
Tofu is nothing to be intimidated by. It's easy and delicious stuff - I've found that brands don't tend to matter as much as consistency (firm, silken, etc). Silken tofu can be made into dessert relatively quickly. Warmed and served with a sugar ginger sauce is a delicious and simple way. I like to buy extra firm tofu (though you can use firm), press it to rid it of extra water, add a splash of soy for flavour and bake/pan fry. I suppose you can use it in place of meat in certain recipes, though that's never been something I've tried myself.
Perhaps if you can tell us what types of cuisines you like, people can better point you to books/recipes/methods?
Asian Cookbooks are more likely to give good recipes than health-food books.
I especially like Chinese recipes with tofu. All are good, some are as simple as "tossing" raw tofu with preserved eggs, soy sauce and sesame oil.
Diced tofu in soup can't miss.
I am partial to firm tofu, because I am kind-of clumsy. It is easy to slice and stir fry.
Tofu doesn't really need to be cooked, but simmering it in a sauce gives it flavor, as well as warming it through.
Some traditional dishes call for tofu "pillows" to be deep fried, which gives it a nice crust. Then the pillows are sliced in two before stir frying to allow flavor to penetrate the softer center.
The Chinese classic tofu dish is Ma Po Dao Fu. There are lots of recipes on-line, and in almost any Chinese cookbook. It is a Sichuan dish, but usually available in Cantonese restaurants.
In her Sichuan cookbook, Fuchsia Dunlop gives a recipe for Yu Hsiang Dao Fu which is delicious.
Although I do love tofu, I'd consider myself pretty intimidated as well. I've used it in soups like Hot and Sour, and in another preparation where it is marinated and cooked.. Tofu done right, is delicious and healthy! I'm hoping you get tons of responses!
If you live near an Asian market they will have the seasoning mix for ma-po tofu. This is a spicy Sichuan dish that also contains minced pork. Just follow the direction on the box. It is a dry product and comes in a relatively flat box maybe 5 x 6 inches. Some large supermarkets have it also. It you enjoy it, then venture onto the web where there are lots of recipes for it from scratch.
A hint also on storage of tofu after the package is open. Just keep it in a tupperware container covered with water, and change water every day or two. Mine is always in a clear container, and my son says it looks like giant erasers floating around.