Cooked with Tofu for the first time, not planning on doing it again... - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 02-28-2010, 07:17 PM
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Not going to lie, I cooked a lasagna with it last night and ended up picking it all out. I used the extra firm type. I dont plan on cooking with it again anytime soon.

I find this a little discouraging as I want to start veering towards vegan in the next couple of months.

Is there anyone on here who had similar experience? Maybe it will grow on me?
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#2 Old 02-28-2010, 07:21 PM
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Tofu in lasagne does not sound very nice, especially firm tofu. I rather like tofu and I can't say I'd personally enjoy it much like that. I'd go and eat it at a good Asian restaurant first. Salt and pepper tofu, or sesame or something.

Even if you don't like it, it's not like it's a required food or anything.
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#3 Old 02-28-2010, 07:24 PM
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I've recently become vegan and can't stand tofu at all, so it's possible to be vegan without it

I usually use regular soya protein for meat substitutes, or cook dishes that were intended to be meat-free.

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#4 Old 02-28-2010, 07:43 PM
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I was vegetarian for 10 years before I tried tofu. I tried it by having it in a very good Thai restaurant, and it was delicious! It inspired me to learn how to cook with it, and now I have it regularly.
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#5 Old 02-28-2010, 07:58 PM
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How did you use it in the lasagna? did you use a recipe? blend it with herbs and a touch of lemon and salt? add it plain?

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#6 Old 02-28-2010, 08:09 PM
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if you were using the tofu for its creaminess, you could instead make some cashew cream (with raw cashews, water, salt and a blender) or something.

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#7 Old 02-28-2010, 08:17 PM
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I've yet to eat anything made with extra firm tofu that's even remotely palatable. I don't know why it exists (and I LOVE tofu).

I'd suggest not using tofu as a replacement in traditionally non-tofu recipes. Instead, try it at some Thai, Japanese, Korean, or Chinese restaurants, see what you like, and mimic from there. It's good stuff.
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#8 Old 02-28-2010, 08:43 PM
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I have only tried cooking with extra firm tofu and was not pleased with the results either. I think I am just not a fan of the flavor. Also, I tend not to like any of the faux meats they sell at the grocery store. No matter what faux meat it is, I feel like each variety tastes the same. I know tofu and faux meat are not essential to a veg*n diet, so I think I will give up on both for now, save for when I am out to eat.
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#9 Old 02-28-2010, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Moo55 View Post

I was vegetarian for 10 years before I tried tofu. I tried it by having it in a very good Thai restaurant, and it was delicious! It inspired me to learn how to cook with it, and now I have it regularly.

20 years for me...and I eat it here and there its not a fave
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#10 Old 02-28-2010, 08:56 PM
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It would be helpful to know how you cooked it. It can be okay if mixed with some other things and used as a "ricotta." Tofu doesn't work well for everything, I would be hesitant to use it as a meat replacer in lasagna because of the consistency.

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#11 Old 02-28-2010, 09:53 PM
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I agree with everybody who said eat it at a restaurant first. I like tofu, I just am not that great at cooking it. There's a recipe somewhere on this board for honey fried tofu (sounds disgusting at first, but it's good), and that's basically the best I can make. I just did tofu scramble tonight, and it didn't turn out too horribly.

A trick if you're going to stir-fry it is marinade it for a couple of hours. When I first went veg, I didn't do that, so I couldn't get it to taste good. Oddly enough, my omni mom told me to do that. O.o I hadn't realized she liked tofu (then again, my step-dad probably told her it was chicken or something-he did that to me when I wasn't veg. He told me the tofu was chicken ).

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#12 Old 02-28-2010, 09:56 PM
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i bet it tasted like wet dishwashing sponge crumbled into lasagne. you gotta slice, press, marinade, and bake that sucker to perfection.
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#13 Old 02-28-2010, 10:46 PM
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I'd reiterate the advice above to try it at a restaurant first, my all time favorite food is deep fried silken tofu with a sweetened soy sauce that a Japanese restaurant serves near us.

Although I do love tofu I've also seen it cooked in some pretty horrible ways, the college I live at insists on steaming it, and not adding any sauce, it's completely disgusting. I have used it in lasagna before though, I'm fond of fairly spicy lasagnas and I'll often have a layer of well blended silken tofu and firm tofu, spiced up with sweet chilli sauce, and what other herbs I felt like at the time, between layers of veggies and sauce.

I also love firm tofu just taken out of the packet and sliced and then fried or baked and covered in a rich satay sauce with rice, it is absolutely heavenly.

When cooking tofu though, don't treat it as a stand alone it's the sort of food that soaks up the flavors around it, and needs additional flavors to be palatable.
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#14 Old 03-01-2010, 01:03 AM
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Poorly prepared tofu can be not very good at all but I have yet to meet someone who didin't like tofu when it was prepared in one of many many different ways.

Find a recommended recipe, follow it, and enjoy. If you try and use tofu on your own without knowing what you're doing then don't be surprised if you don't like it. One of the most common mistakes I've seen is people using silken tofu in place of fresh tofu. That can be disastrous.
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#15 Old 03-01-2010, 02:17 AM
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I remember the first time I cooked with tofu too - many years ago - and never thought I would ever like it.

You need to find the taste and texture that you like. Tofu is tasteless, you need to add flavour. It can also be jelly-like in texture - something that doesn't appeal to me.

It is important to not get your firm and silken tofus mixed up. Silken is great in sauces, firm for a meat replacement.

For firm - drain it first - either squeeze the liquid out, or leave to drain on a plate with cling film on top, and a few heavy books on top of it!

To give firm tofu even firmer texture, freeze it first. This gives it a thicker texture.

Here's a couple of recipes to try, where the tofu is packed with flavour, and has a nice texture.

With the scrambled tofu, you can add whatever herbs and spices you like best - so you could add an Italian twist by using basil, oregano, sundried tomatoes and olives instead of the spices.

Don't give up on tofu just yet - give it another chance - I did and I have never regretted it!
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#16 Old 03-01-2010, 04:48 AM
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I've been a Vegan for coming up on two years and I rarely cook tofu, so don't let it stop you from going Vegan. My first few experiences cooking tofu were not good ones. When I use it now I get the extra firm that is already cubed up. I wrap it in paper towels and press by stacking a couple plates on it for at least a half an hour, or other times I bake it in the oven for a bit.

Since I only prepare tofu at home about once a month, I'm not the best person to advise you on cooking it properly. I just wanted to post to let you know you can become a happy healthy Vegan long term, without letting the fact that like many other people you can't seem to make tofu come out they way you would hope get in the way.

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#17 Old 03-01-2010, 06:55 AM
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It's all in the preparation. My omni fiance will eat a pound of tofu in a sitting, if I don't grab some out first for myself. Reiterating WonderRandy's questions -- how exactly did you use the tofu?! Well seasoned tofu ricotta is quite good in lasagna (generally lemon juice, nutritional yeast, garlic, oregano, salt), but if you just opened up the package and slopped it in there -- probably would taste squishy and watery and beany.
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#18 Old 03-01-2010, 07:40 AM
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I don't eat it, either. Not required.
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#19 Old 03-01-2010, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by rabid_child View Post

It's all in the preparation. My omni fiance will eat a pound of tofu in a sitting, if I don't grab some out first for myself. Reiterating WonderRandy's questions -- how exactly did you use the tofu?! Well seasoned tofu ricotta is quite good in lasagna (generally lemon juice, nutritional yeast, garlic, oregano, salt), but if you just opened up the package and slopped it in there -- probably would taste squishy and watery and beany.

I have a really tasty lasagna recipe that I use from Vegan Planet where tofu is substituted for ricotta. It's blended with spinach and it turns out being really good. With tofu, it's all how you prepare it and how it's seasoned.
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#20 Old 03-01-2010, 08:33 AM
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I wouldn't use tofu in a lasagne, except maybe silken tofu for the white sauce. Soy mince would work better.
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#21 Old 03-01-2010, 08:37 AM
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I don't cook very often (I'm just lazy in the kitchen), but when I do use tofu, it's usually as a meat replacer in Chinese dishes. I do things like marinading it in teriyaki sauce and mixing it into homemade fried rice, or a stir fry. Come to think of it, I haven't done this in a while. I should make that again some time soon.


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#22 Old 03-01-2010, 10:08 AM
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GGG "I usually use regular soya protein"

I prefer to stay away from soy protein, unless it is specifically manufactured from soybeans, by vegans, for vegans to use, and retains its original soy oil. Unless it is labelled otherwise, soy protein is most likely a by-product of the soybean oil industry — wherin soy oil is chemically extracted from soybeans. A totally oil-less "soy cake" is left over. Soy protein is made by further chemical alteration of the totally oil-less soy cake. At first, soy oil manufacturers thought the only way they could get rid of this waste product of theirs, other than by throwing it away, was by selling it to people who figured they could use it to increase the protein content of animal feed, and force their animals to grow faster and be ready for market sooner and make them more money. Later, much to the oil manufacturers' surprise, they found that some vegetarians were, in their words, actually dumb enough to want to try and eat it themselves.

Soy oil is a part of what makes soybeans nutritious. Taking it out and replacing it with another oil, doesn't sound sensible to me. Animal flesh is very fatty and the oil is an important part of the flavor and texture of animal flesh. So "mock meats" need a certain amount of oil to taste anything at all like flesh. Therefore, to make mock meat, if oil-less soy protein is used, some other source of oil must be used. First you take all the natural oil out of the soybeans, then you take what is left over, and add some other oil to it. Sounds like a strange, time-wasting, energy-wasting endeavor to me.

Edamame, on the other hand, has all the natural oil of soybeans. Plus it has a much different texture and taste than dry soybeans which have been rehydrated. Judging by the taste, you wouldn't think they were the same seed. Edamame is something from which nothing has been removed, and to which nothing has been added. Unfortunately, unless you grow your own or find a local farmer who grows it, you won't be able to get half-way decent edamame in most places in the west. As far as I can tell, all the frozen edamame sold in the US is garbage. But it is better than industrially produced soy protein! Just stay away from the frozen edamame that comes from China. It is even worse than the edamame from Taiwan.

Making tofu involves some technology, but of the low to mid-level variety, not the advanced technology that is used for soy protein. It is basically just the cooking water from soybeans (which is also called soy milk) that has been curdled with magnesium chloride, or calcium sulfate, or industrially-produced enzymes. Then pressed to remove water.

There is a tremendous difference in flavor and texture between different brands of tofu. Most of those enzyme-curldled tofu in asceptic cartons taste way different (and I think taste awful) than traditional japanese style tofu coagulated with magnesium chloride and stored in barrels of water. Once you get it home, you put your tofu in a fresh container of water, and change the water twice a day, if you want your tofu to last more than one day in the fridge. If your water is not already chlorinated, you could even put a single tiny drop of bleach in the water.

If you can get fresh-made magnesim choloride coagulated tofu (it is available in a few US cities) you can store it for a week. A decent alternative is the extra firm tofu available in individual plastic bowls filled with water.

You can make tofu yourself from soy milk and magnesium chloride and a simple device to press out excess water - you can even just squeeze it in a cotton cloth and leave a rock on it after that. But most commercially soy milk is very dilute. They use caragheenan or other vegetable gum to give the illusion of a more concentrated milk. So if you make tofu at home you may want to grind and cook soybeans at home.

You can also use lemon or lime-juice as a coagulant. You can do this at home. You won't find lemon or lime-coagulated tofu available commercially. I suspect this produces a different, more natural-tasting tofu, that many may prefer.

But, yes, if you don't like soy milk, you aren't likely to like tofu. Magnesium chloride is bitter. I personally find magnesium-chloride coagulated tofu pleasant and palatable, and don't notice any bitterness form the magnesium chloride, but I find calcium-sulfate coagulated tofu and enzyme-coagulated tofu to be horrific. Most people don't notice the bitterness of the tiny bit of magnesium chloride that is in magnesium chloride coagulated tofu, but some people possibly may be able to taste it, and perhaps may find the taste of just that tiny bit of magnesium chloride, to be not to their liking.

Tofu will go bad very fast. If it tastes a bit sour - it is not fresh. Sour tofu is generally not considered to be harmful, but it tastes way different than tofu that hasn't started to decompose yet. Moldy bread is generally not considered to be harmful either. I'm not really fond of it.

While I kind of like the taste of small amounts of tofu, I rarely use it. I just can't eat that whole pound of tofu, before it goes bad. What I did notice is it does not really absorb flavors very well. I don't know why people say that it absorbs flavors. If you put it in a stir fry, you will notice that only about a 1/2 millimeter of the outer surface, absorbs anything. If you soak it for hours in the fridge, it absorbs little or nothing.
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#23 Old 03-01-2010, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Firefly by 3 View Post

Salt and pepper tofu, or sesame or something.

Salt and pepper tofu is my absolute favorite.

I agree that the best way to start liking tofu is to eat it at ethnic restaurants. It took a long time before I was comfortable enough to use it well at home, but now it's one of my favorite foods.

However, as others have said, it's not a required food for veg*ns.

Originally Posted by Midnight Angel View Post

There's a recipe somewhere on this board for honey fried tofu (sounds disgusting at first, but it's good), and that's basically the best I can make.

My SO ad I have never met a tofu we didn't like until I tried that honey fried tofu. My SO didn't even swallow his first bite - he spit it out. The dogs ate it, though.
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#24 Old 03-01-2010, 12:05 PM
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In the UK, the main tofu supplier is Cauldron. Their smoked tofu can be eaten raw. I like it
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#25 Old 03-01-2010, 12:49 PM
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I have actually never eaten tofu in a restaurant...I really, really would like to though, but I just don't eat out very much at all and when I do, it never seems to be somewhere with tofu. I absolutely love the stuff though, in every way, shape, or form, so I think I'm going to make trying professionally-cooked tofu a priority
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#26 Old 03-01-2010, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Moo55 View Post

Their smoked tofu can be eaten raw. I like it

tofu is cooked.
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#27 Old 03-01-2010, 02:07 PM
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Don't give up after the first time trying!!!! The first time I tried it I almost puked so I stayed away from it for a while. But then I had fresh tofu rolls at a Thai restaurant and I fell in love (they deep-fry the tofu, so what's not to love?!).

I find that I have to have a lot of flavouring in/on the tofu or I won’t like it. If I am going to eat firm tofu I will almost always get the "herb" version. I use this in spaghetti sauces and tofu scramble. And if I am going to put it in a stir-fry then I used pre-marinated teriyaki or coconut curry. Yummy!!

If you want to become vegan you don't NEED to have tofu in your diet. But I suggest giving it another try!
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#28 Old 03-01-2010, 02:09 PM
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I think it's absolutely wonderful! (Although my mom makes it for me :x)
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#29 Old 03-01-2010, 03:07 PM
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Tofu is one of my favorite things to eat. It's brilliant because it soaks up any flavour you want it to like a sponge. I only use extra firm tofu (unless I'm baking) and have 5 or 6 different ways that I like to prepare it, with endless spice variations. Don't give up on tofu!
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#30 Old 03-01-2010, 03:20 PM
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I just had tofu curry. It's a bit like paneer.
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