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Mar 23, 2014 09:27 AM

I need tofu 101

I want to start incorporating more tofu into my diet as a meat replacement. I eat a lot of meat. I have many questions:
What should I look for and where should I buy it? I have an Asian grocery store nearby but I've never bought tofu there. Does Trader Joe's or Costco carry it? Is fresh in water better than than packaged? Are there preferred brands? Do they all pretty much taste the same? What is the shelf life? What's a fair price?

Thank you!

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  1. You may want to see if your library has Asian Tofu by Andrea Nguyen. It has EVERYTHING!

    1 Reply
    1. I just had an amazing lunch with tofu. I bought extra firm tofu from Trader Joe's but I've also bought it at H Mart and Whole Foods. I would definitely read the link provided by c oliver. There are different textures of tofu - silken, soft, firm, extra firm. There's also sprouted and fermented tofu, it's a crazy soy world out there.

      They don't all taste the same, fresher is better. The sealed packages last a while before you open them. Fair price - it's usually pretty cheap. I bought a lb for $2.

      My super simple amazing lunch involved pressing tofu for an hour or so to get rid of some of the water, marinating for an hour, dicing into 1 inch cubes, baking and tossing into a kale soup.

      1. Men shouldn't eat a lot of soy, just not worth the risk

        Plenty of alternative protein sources

        10 Replies
        1. re: Alan408

          Not necessarily only true for men but women should consider the negative aspects of soy as well. I don't eat it often for these same reasons.

          1. re: fldhkybnva

            Wow, I was unaware of the health risks of tofu and other soy products. Thanks for the heads up.

            1. re: zackly

              Yes, there's a lot of mixed literature if you want to peruse. To guide your search, you might Google soy and phytoestrogens or thyroid function. It's a conflicting body of literature as with most nutritional research but still very interesting.

              1. re: zackly

                Most of the soy controversy is surrounding processed soy foods such as soy protein isolate.
                Whole food soy products like soymilk, tofu, and edamame can be a healthy part of your diet when eaten in moderation.

                1. re: Ttrockwood

                  I agree, though isn't tofu fairly processed? I actually thought of you when I was making tofu today, I guess I just associate you with vegetarian options :)

              1. re: EWSflash

                asians with far better lipid profiles than most american men.

              2. re: Alan408

                Alan408. meta analysis you might want to read:

                Hamilton-Reeves, Jill M.; Vazquez, Gabriela; Duval, Sue J.; Phipps, William R.; Kurzer, Mindy S.; Messina, Mark J. (2010). "Clinical studies show no effects of soy protein or isoflavones on reproductive hormones in men: Results of a meta-analysis". Fertility and Sterility 94 (3): 997–1007. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2009.04.038. PMID 19524224.

              3. Trader Joe's does carry tofu in a sealed container with water. I prefer extra firm tofu with which I occasionally make lunch.

                I make soup with ramen noodles, sauted onions, chopped mushrooms from a can, soy sauce and homemade hot sauce for flavoring. I discard the flavor packet that comes in the noodle package because of the salt. There's plenty of salt in the soy sauce. The tofu is sliced into small cubes.

                1. I'd suggest TRUSTING people running Asian market for advice. Market near me has several varieties (soft, silken, firm, etc) prepackaged... last a LONG time in fridge. Was suggested I FREEZE, then press out water!?! Then 'marinate" in soy/hoisin and things. Cubed up and stir fried, it's pretty solid and "meaty"?? Alone... pretty much NO flavor, IMO!?!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: kseiverd

                    Good point, you can freeze tofu but it alters the texture. Some prefer it that way so definitely worth it to try it from frozen as well.

                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                      How is the texture different? It might actually help me with my veggie chili- does it get crumbly?

                      1. re: EWSflash

                        Yes. If you freeze and then thaw firm tofu, squeeze out all the liquid, and crumble into a chili it will absorb all of the chili flavors and have a firm yet chewy texture.

                    2. re: kseiverd

                      At our Asian market, generally there's only one person working there who speaks English well enough for me to be able to communicate with him. And "Asian" is a mighty big category for one young man to know a whole lot about. At least that's been my experience. YMMV.