Tofu-condensed soy curd pressed into blocks- has been around a long time; scholars believe that it was possibly accidentally discovered and developed around 2,000 years ago by a Chinese cook who mixed soy milk with nigari-seawater with the salt removed. The magnesium chloride that remains in the brine curdles the soy milk and it is then pressed into blocks, then pressed into service in a multitude of ways.
Though the soybean was cultivated 5,000 years ago in China, it wasn’t introduced to North America until the 18th Century, and took root in the U.S. as a foraging crop for livestock. During the Great Depression American farmers were encouraged to plant soy to replenish the soil with nitrogen, and Henry Ford himself was a big advocate of soy, utilizing its oil for the auto industry and popularizing it as a food source for humans. Perhaps this is why the U.S. is the number one producer of soy today, producing over 103 million tonnes. By comparison, Canada, which started soybean cultivation in the latter stages of the 19th Century is seventh on the list, producing around 6 million tonnes.
Tofu is a favourite food among many vegetarians and vegans as it is a healthy food choice, offering 8 g of complete protein, i.e., all the amino acids we require from food, as well as several other vital nutrients.
One 3.5-oz (100-gram) serving of tofu has 70 calories and contains:
- Protein:8 grams.
- Carbs:2 grams.
- Fiber:1 gram.
- Fat:4 grams.
- Manganese:31% of the RDI.
- Calcium:20% of the RDI.
- Selenium:14% of the RDI.
- Phosphorus:12% of the RDI.
- Copper:11% of the RDI.
- Magnesium:9% of the RDI.
- Iron:9% of the RDI.
- Zinc:6% of the RDI.
For those who are limiting or eliminating meat, dairy and or eggs from their diet, tofu, in moderation, is a good choice, and one of our favourite ways to enjoy it, especially on Meatless Mondays is to whip up a quick tofu scramble with vegetables. Medium firm tofu works best for a scramble, as firm or extra firm tofu proves to be too chewy, whereas silken tofu tends to mush out. Medium firm tofu, quickly stirred and broken up with a fork resembles the real deal both in terms of looks and texture. And speaking of visual appeal, mixing a little turmeric into the scramble at any time during the cooking will impart a rich yellow hue to the business.
Many recipes call for pressing the tofu between paper towel to remove most of the liquid, but a little liquid is fine; the tomatoes, shallots, mushrooms and escarole in this easy recipe will release a little liquid juice anyway, adding flavour and nutrients to the scramble. On it’s own, tofu is infamously bland, so adding your favourite savouries into the deal will make this dish a family favourite. If you are a vegemite or marmite http://fiestafarms.ca/4602/food/did-someone-say-marmite lover, adding a little of it to scrambled tofu enlivens the dish considerably, adding a rich umami flavour and B-Vitamins. Furthermore, if you are not dairy-free add a little butter to the proceedings to give it that eggs-fried in butter familiar taste. Finally, if you do think that the scramble is a little watery, don’t strain and discard, there’s a lot of flavour there! Here’s a tip that will fix things. Just mix about ½ a teaspoon of cornstarch with a tablespoon of water and stir this into the scramble in its final stages. The starch will thicken the liquid up nicely and coat the scramble, giving it the lovely, soft and silky texture we associate with scrambled eggs done just right.
Savoury Tofu Scramble
1 cup medium firm tofu
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small shallot, chopped, or a tablespoon of chopped onion
a few mushrooms, chopped
6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cup escarole, chickory or spinach roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon (a knife tip) marmite or vegemite
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cornstarch
Place tofu in a bowl and mix it up with a fork. Heat oil in a skillet. Add shallot/onion, mushrooms and tomatoes and gently stir over medium heat. Add escarole and garlic and stir until combined. Add the tofu, vegemite and the turmeric, giving everything a good stir with the spatula. Let cook a few minutes until the escarole wilts and the tomatoes are broken down. Mix the cornstarch with a tablespoon of water and stir into the scramble until the liquid thickens. Remove from heat and plate. Garnish with chopped scallion and season with salt and pepper to taste.