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Updated: May 7, 2023

Welcome to vegcurious – the blog for people who are curious about plant-based eating.

You know I had to do it. I couldn’t create a whole blog series about plant-based eating and not mention tofu. It’s the mainstay of every vegan diet! It’s bland, tasteless, rubbery and it’s ALL we eat! Also…none of that is true. But there is no denying that for a lot of vegans, tofu may be a big part of their diet. Full disclosure: I love the stuff! So, for today’s post, we are going to take a deep dive into the many different types of tofu out there and the literally endless ways to enjoy it. But first, let’s clear up a common misconception.

Tofu vs Soy

In the ven diagram of food, all tofu is soy, but not all soy is tofu. Sometimes called bean curd, tofu is an unfermented soy food. Other unfermented soy foods you might be familiar with include edamame, soy cheese, and soy milk. When soy is fermented, you get foods like tempeh, miso and that best friend of spring rolls and dumplings everywhere…soy sauce. In this post, we are only going to be talking about one type of unfermented soy, and that is tofu.

"There are so many types of tofu and literally endless ways to enjoy it."

Vegan + eating = tofu

As soon as I mention that I’m vegan, inevitably, I get “told” that all I eat is tofu. And of course, that’s just not true. But I do occasionally enjoy tofu in many different forms and in many different dishes. We’ll get to that in a minute. For now, sit back, grab a glass of your favourite beverage and let’s take a walk down tofu lane together…

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away…

Let’s start with a little background. Tofu has been around for a long time. A REALLY long time. It dates all the way back to the Han dynasty in China, or about 2,000 years. So, calling it a “crazy new-age” food may be a bit of a stretch.

Like all good 2,000-year-old stories, the origin of tofu has many delightful versions, but it’s generally accepted that its creation was an accident. Some historians claim that a Prince in the Han dynasty created tofu when he was trying to create the elixir of life, and others say that it was created by a cook who was experimenting with flavouring soybeans with a type of seaweed and ended up making bean curd instead. However it came to be, it didn’t become popular in North America until the 1960’s. (So…OK…maybe it is a BIT of a new-age food.)

Over in this part of the world, the popularity of tofu was a product of the counter-culture movement of the 60’s and the rise in vegetarianism at the time. Actually, until quite recently, tofu was still considered a somewhat exotic and fringe food.

Tofu…the tabula rasa of foods

So, now that we know where it came from, let’s talk about what it is. I like to think of tofu as a blank slate of potential yumminess. And, while that is accurate, it’s not exactly a helpful definition. A more accurate description would be that tofu is a soy-based food that is cholesterol-free, low-calorie and high-protein which is also rich in bone-boosting calcium and manganese. So, the next logical question would be…how does a little innocent soybean become a block of tofu?

It's magic!!! Also chemistry.

Turning soybeans into tofu is actually a pretty easy process. Simply put, dried soybeans are soaked in water, crushed, and then boiled. This creates pieces of solids with some liquid, or soy milk, remaining in the curd. As that remaining liquid is pressed out you get varying degrees of firmness from silken tofu, which still has a lot of the soy milk in it, to extra firm, or super firm, which is a much more solid form of tofu.

"Saying you don't like the taste of tofu is like saying you don't like the taste of water."

As anyone who has tasted it will tell you, tofu in its natural state, is pretty much tasteless. But every plant-based eater knows that this is why it can be used to mimic so many other foods from meat to eggs to pudding, depending on the texture you start with and how you prepare it. In other words, to say you don’t like the taste of tofu is like saying you don’t like the taste of water. Add a little sugar…fruit juice…carbonation…and voila! You LOVE the taste of water! Same with tofu. In fact, it’s hard to imagine any other food that can take you from breakfast through lunch to dinner including snacks and desserts along the way and taste totally different every single time.

This tofu’s for you!

This blog isn’t meant to be a cookbook, there are plenty out there and a google search will bring up countless recipes*, but as a quick primer, here is how the different types of tofu can be used, from softest to firmest.

Silken: This one is exactly the way it sounds. It has a soft, silky texture which is very similar to an egg custard. Use it in mousse, desserts, and pretty much any baked goods that call for tofu as an ingredient.

Medium-Firm: This one is good for dishes like a breakfast scramble or to mimic ground meat in a Bolognese sauce or tacos. Because it still has a fair amount of liquid in it, it’s helpful to use a tofu press to extract the extra liquid before cooking.

Extra firm: This one is perfect for grilling, for nuggets or for making kabobs because it’s very firm with little to no liquid and can be easily cut into slices or cubes. It is great in the airfryer and the wok, too!

Pre-marinated: Tofu is like a sponge and will soak up any marinade or spices so some very smart companies, like Wildwood, have started selling tofu that has already been flavoured, so you don’t have to.

If you are considering a plant-based diet, or just starting out on your journey, make friends with tofu, in all its many forms, and your meals will never be boring!

Recommended reading:


I hope this blog has helped you find your way to plant-based eating. Remember…the goal is not to be perfect. Do the best you can and enjoy the journey!

Note: It is strongly recommended that you consult with your primary care physician before making any changes to your diet. This blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended to recommend or endorse any particular product, diet or eating plan.

Next issue…Can you milk an almond?

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4 comentarios

09 mar 2023

Great article! I didn't know there were different types of Tofu. The trouble I have had in the past with Tofu is the texture. I have had limited experience and this is why. I probably need to try some of the different types.

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23 mar 2023
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I really like silken tofu for desserts. It's amazing how rich it is!

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Susan Housel
Susan Housel
05 mar 2023

Really liked this "TED Talk" about tofu. I eat tofu quite a bit and find it is all up to me to determine it's deliciousness or tastelessness. When I rush the process - terrible results. Marinate over night? Amazing. I look forward to more posts and opportunities to learn something.

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05 mar 2023
Contestando a

Thanks, Susan!

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