Tofu (or tokwa) is known as a rich source of protein and essential micronutrients. Made out of curdled fresh soybeans native to East Asia, it is a staple ingredient in many forms of Asian cuisine.
We, Filipinos, also have our fair share of dishes with tofu. Its prevalent use, as brought by Chinese influence, is now deeply ingrained into our livelihood and food culture. Sure, we’ve had it fried, steamed, and whipped up into a classic tokwa’t baboy, but did you know that you can do so much more with your usual block of tofu?
With just a spark of creativity, this versatile ingredient can be transformed into a variety of deliciously healthy meals! Here are four recipes that will surely inspire you to create more simple yet-mind blowing dishes out of plain old tofu!
Scrambled tofu “eggs”
For transitioning vegans, or those simply wanting to eat eggs for breakfast religiously sans high cholesterol, this is one of the best alternatives. With its rich taste and fluffy texture, you’re sure to enjoy it just as much as the real thing! These “eggs” go well with steamed brown rice or quinoa, but even better on top of warm toast.
To make, mash your diced blocks of firm tofu into bite-sized crumbles. Season the crumbles with turmeric powder, ground pepper, salt, nutritional yeast, and the staple ingredient that does the trick – kala namak black salt. You can find this kind of black salt in Indian groceries or online shops.
To whip it up Filipino-style – simply let the pan sizzle with coconut oil, garlic, onions, tomatoes and other ingredients of your choice, then toss the tofu in. Finish off with chopped spring onions for garnish, and voila! Eggless scrambled eggs in just 10 to 15 minutes.
Tofu nuggets and spicy tofu BBQ
Remember your favorite childhood baon, crispy chicken nuggets? Or your memorable after-class sidewalk BBQ habit? Now, you can enjoy these iconic comfort foods, meat and guilt-free! Using tofu as a meat substitute, you can make these easy, fast, and healthy protein-packed viands, both perfect on a side of garlic fried rice.
First, you need tofu blocks cut into thin rectangular pieces (similar to cuts of Spam). You can make your own breading for the nuggets by mixing flour with rosemary, thyme, ground oregano, basil, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper – or whatever kind of blend you prefer. Either that, or just grab any store-bought breading mix. Simply dip the nuggets into your mix, pan fry both sides till golden brown, and that’s it!
For the BBQ, do the same with the marinade – whether store-bought or a homemade blend, just add a handful of chillies to spice it up. Best give it a dust of smoky paprika for an off-the-grill aroma, too. Soak the tofu in and let it sit in the fridge for about 15 minutes. You can either pan fry or broil it, just make sure it comes out juicy on the inside and toasty on the edges.
Ditch the cubed old bread or store-bought boxes! These light and crispy tofu croutons are unprocessed, freshly made, and heavenly tasting! They are perfect as toppings for your soups and salads, or on their own as healthy snacks for when the munchies kick in.
Make sure to use extra firm tofu for this recipe. Pour and lightly squeeze out all the excess liquid beforehand, then chop the tofu into bite-sized cubes. Set aside, grab your pan, and add the oil in. Once the pan starts smoking up, reduce the heat and toss the tofu in.
Fry the tofu until it’s nice and browned up on the sides, then add in a few tablespoons of honey or maple syrup. This gets them nice and caramelized and gives the croutons a slight hint of sweetness. Once the cubes are fully-coated – toss in salt, pepper, paprika, and parmesan to taste. Cook for two more minutes to intensify the flavours, and you’re done! You can save them for later, but it’s best to pop ‘em up while still warm and crispy!
No need to go to Baguio for a cup of this heart-warming delicacy. It’s easier (and way cheaper) to make one in the comfort of your own home.
For this, you’ll need soft silken tofu and cooked mini tapioca pearls (sago). You can get them from your nearest grocery store or from your local magtataho. Make sure to steam the tofu first, for about 8-10 minutes before consumption. With the base ingredients out of the way, it’s time to make the strawberry arnibal (sugar syrup).
Combine a cup of brown sugar, a cup of water, and 1-2 drops of vanilla extract in a saucepan. Before the mixture comes to a boil, add in your chopped fresh strawberries or strawberry preserves. Be careful with the preserves, though, as they are already pretty sweet on their own. Add them in to taste.
Simmer for about 5 minutes or until the strawberries are warm and mushy. Turn off the fire and let the syrup cool for about 10 minutes, before pouring it generously atop a nice steaming cup of silken tofu and tapioca pearls. Stir the arnibal around and take a whiff – picture the fresh scenery of Baguio as you enjoy the warmth of this sweet and hearty strawberry delight.