Long before meat alternatives funded by tech companies — the Impossible and Beyond Meats of the world — took over, plant-based eating was a lot simpler. Enter: tofu.
According to one origin story mentioned in The Encyclopedia of Asian Food and Cooking, tofu was invented between 200 BC and 200 AD during China’s Han Dynasty by a panel convened by the emperor intent on developing new medicines. Another story suggests that around the same time, a hapless cook dropped some seaweed into a bowl of boiled and pureed soybeans and it curdled. Voila to one of the world’s most nutritious substances, low in fat and carbs and infinitely adaptable.
As a building block of many vegan and vegetarian dishes, tofu (also known as bean curd) is not only tasty but versatile. Soft tofu is perfect in soups, stews, and even puddings. Firm blocks of the soy-based product are often used in stir fries or deep fried. And don’t forget the evolving multitude of offshoots and byproducts, including rubbery tofu skin, fermented stinky tofu, pressed bean curd, bean curd sticks, flavored tofu, silken bean curd, and bean curd cheese, among other lovely permutations.
However it was conceived, it spread throughout Asia and beyond, and it’s rare not to find an Asian country that doesn’t have a national specialty that involves it. Here are some of our favorite uses of tofu found in NYC.Read More