Is All Tofu Vegan? Ingredients, Benefits and the Top Tofu Options

Is All Tofu Vegan? Ingredients, Benefits and the Top Tofu Options

Ridiculously versatile, nutritious and malleable to pretty much all flavours, one might think of our dear friend tofu as somewhat of a gateway drug to veganism. Is there any other substance on earth that is better at absorbing flavour than tofu? We defy any vegan to think of one. because we certainly can’t!

Tofu is another beloved fruit from the soybean, jeez, don’t we have a lot to be grateful to that bean for! Subtle in flavour, tofu comes in many textures and can be used creatively in a huge host of vegan dishes. 

In this blog, we explore vegan dairy products - tofu, how tofu is made, and just some of the amazing potential benefits of this ingredient. Go forth with delicious tofu recipes!

What does tofu taste like?

Tofu is very subtle in flavour, it’s more about the texture it provides and what flavours you add for the tofu to absorb. 

Creamy, soft on the palette, neutral and gentle, tofu makes the ultimate foundation block for flavours to pop. 

What is Tofu?

What is Tofu

Hailing originally from China, tofu’s conception is thought to be dated back as far as the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE).

Also known as bean curd, this amazing food has been an extremely popular staple of the diet of people from China, Japan, and South East Asia for many years. 

Tofu recipes aren’t constrained to savoury dishes but span into the base for desserts and sweet treats, too. 

Doufu Hua (豆腐花) is a widely adored Chinese tofu pudding, where soft silken tofu is dowsed in a deliciously sweet syrup. You’ll see hawkers serving this simple pudding on the side of the road in many parts of China and South-East Asia. 

How is Tofu Made?

How Tofu is Made

So, what is tofu made from? This wonderful food is made from soybeans using a very specific process. Here’s a step-by-step run-through of how tofu is made:

  1. Dried soybeans are soaked in water until soft, then they are crushed and boiled.
  2. The solid pulp of the soybeans is separated from the soy ‘milk’.
  3. Salt coagulants, i.e. compounds which will help the soymilk become solid, are added to the soymilk. 
  4. The soymilk is then poured into moulds so the ‘whey’ can drain off, and you are left with just the soy curds.
  5. After the soy curds have solidified, you get what we all know as tofu. Voila! 

How to Cook Tofu? Here are some creative ways:

You can scramble, deep-fry, air-fry, stir-fry, boil, and even ferment tofu. You can choose between firm and silken tofu, depending on your desired texture. Silken tofu is perfect for ramen dishes, and you can even bread and fry them. They’re quite fiddly but worth it. Firm tofu is perfect for making meat-style alternatives and acts as a sponge for flavour. Check out these tofu recipes:

  1. Cut into oblong shapes and deep-fried - just like a vegan mozzarella stick!
  2. Scrambled tofu with cumin, turmeric, fresh chilli and coriander for a curried breakfast treat. Or add some oat milk and tahini to make this number!
  3. Silken tofu in a nutritious miso soup.
  4. Baked into steaks with Tamari and Maple Syrup.
  5. Cut into thick wedges, slice, season, and create some salmon fillets.
  6. Simply cut into cubes, and season with paprika, cumin, sriracha, nutritional yeast, soy, you name it! Chuck it in the over and you’ve got yourself the perfect salad topper.

Benefits of Tofu 

Where do we begin? Perhaps most obviously, tofu is an unbelievably versatile food, absorbing the flavours beautifully of anything it’s added to. 

Tofu is not only delicious in Eastern and South-Eastern Asian cuisine but can be adapted to any palette and provides a fabulous texture to any meal. Tofu recipes can be inspired by any world cuisine!

    What are the Health Benefits of Eating Tofu?

    A brilliant source of protein, tofu is also high in other nutrients like calcium, potassium and iron. Tofu also contains all 9 essential amino acids: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. These are essential for our body to be able to build proteins, neurotransmitters and hormones.

    Most non-vegans get their important amino acids from meat, poultry and eggs. But for us vegans, we of course need to look elsewhere. 

    This is one of the wonders of tofu - it often stands in a recipe as an alternative for where the meat traditionally would have been, and it also offers us some of the same kind of health benefits as meat! Magic, really

    Terrific old tofu gives us the joy of having our amino acid and protein fix without having to harm any animals in the process. We’re winning!

    Benefits of Tofu for Heart Health

    Studies show the impressive benefits of soy-based foods, such as tofu, on cardiovascular health. Soy protein-rich foods have cholesterol-lowering properties, which makes them great for your heart health and may lower the risk of heart disease.

    Additionally, tofu is far leaner and lower in cholesterol as opposed to fattier meats, poultry and dairy products. It follows that you’re better off choosing tofu if you have your heart health in mind. 

    Is tofu good for type-2 diabetes?

    Research suggests that people who have a higher intake of whole soy products (such as tofu) in their diets, potentially have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that regular intake of unsweetened tofu may be linked to lower blood sugars and insulin levels, although the research is still in its infancy.

    Some of the best tofu options out there

    Clearspring – Organic Japanese Tofu

    Clearspring – Organic Japanese Tofu

    Clearspring’s Organic Japanese Tofu is a great product to always have in the cupboard. Perfect for whipping out to add texture to any dish you’ve got cookin’, this fail-safe tofu makes for excellent scrambling, frying, and marinading for spicy dishes.

    Cauldron Foods – Organic Tofu

    Cauldron Foods – Organic Tofu

    A staple in most supermarkets these days, Cauldron Foods provide an accessible, easy step into the world of tofu with this simple block of Organic Tofu. Firm in texture and gentle in flavour, this is a great place to start on your tofu journey. Find it in your local supermarket, and soon to be on the PlantX website! 

    Viana – Organic Real Smoked Tofu

    Viana – Organic Real Smoked Tofu

    Beechwood smoke gives this tofu a moreish, smoky flavour that will add a layer of complexity to your dish. Healthy and delicious, this is one neat package of goodness! Add to your sandwiches, stews, curries – in fact, pretty much anything you can imagine! 

    Clearspot Tofu – Organic Scrambled Tofu 

    Clearspot Tofu – Organic Scrambled Tofu

    This one’s great if you’re feeling a little lazy and want your tofu scrambled for you! Made with sustainable soya beans and ready to eat straight from the packet, this Organic Scrambled Tofu is the perfect convenient breakfast protein-hit! 

    Taifun – Organic Tofu Fillets

    Taifun – Organic Tofu Fillets

    Another popular choice relatively easy to find in supermarkets nowadays, these Organic Tofu Fillets are an excellent meat alternative. You can marinade, shallow fry, cover in panko breadcrumbs and bake in the oven for a fabulously crispy, show-stopping addition to your plate. 

    Enjoy the malleable magic of Tofu! 

    Enjoy the malleable magic of tofu!

    So, we’ve taken you on the tofu express train. Hopefully, you feel confident to stride into your local supermarket, grab the tofu of your dreams and get going with some tasty tofu recipes: it’s time to get creative. Enjoy the myriad uses, benefits and trusty versatility of this incredible food from the soybean - happy scrambling, marinating, frying and whatever else your heart desires!