Wednesday, January 12, 2011

From Tofu Indifferent To Tofu Obsessed?


Not too long ago, albeit early in my vegan career, I decided I didn't like tofu that much. Since then, I've become tofu obsessed. Apparently I was just buying sub-standard tofu, so each recipe just tasted ick because of that. We have a local company that produces tofu and tempeh by the name of Central Soy Foods. They make the most delicious smoked nigari tofu. It's hands down my favorite I have tried so far. It just so happens that central soy also makes a really great tempeh, or at least I like it better than the other brands I've tried as well. I'm not sure how far Central Soy's influence extends into other states, but I'm happy that for once the Midwest has something to offer the vegan world. Also, I learned that I really love tofu baked first before using it in any kind of recipe, and love it even more so after it sits in the refrigerator overnight for a yummy sandwich the next day. Tofu will still be more of a treat. I'm still more than happy to eat whole proteins rather than processed ones, but either way, I love having the option to change things up. 


Another current obsession is my new cookbook; Appetite for Reduction. I think most recipes can go less heavy handed on oils and butters, so having a new cookbook with tons of those kinds of recipes that show a little restraint in those areas is a lovely new addition to my cookbook shelf. I pretty much love anything Isa Chandra Moskowitz does though. She's amazing. I love how New York all her cookbooks are, pulling always from so many different cultures. I pulled the Basic Baked Tofu recipe out of AFR. It's marinated in veggie broth, balsamic, tamari, garlic, thyme and maybe a few other things. Anyway, such a simple marinade with great results. You'll probably hear more about these recipes in the weeks to come. I love being challenged to veer away from the rut vegetables I normally buy at every trip to the grocery store. I look forward to trying a bunch of new stuff!

Nate's Two Cents:  Tofu is one of those last frontiers a former carnivore must eventually conquer before he can officially declare himself vegan.  Tempeh is the other.  I think I've planted my flag in the tofu at last.  Tara's served it to me a half-dozen different ways, most of which I like, and after Asian stir-fry, this smoked thing is my favorite way to have it.  The smoky flavor is potent and inviting, like a cross between a tailgate barbecue and a Japanese play. (Yes, I know tofu is Chinese in origin.  Just go with it).  The texture is still cheese-like, but more dense, like a heavy block of ricotta, so that the delicate pieces break off in chunks rather than crumbles. (Tara's going to insist that tofu isn't anything like ricotta, but I should know, given that I used to love ricotta so much I ate it with a spoon straight out of the cup).  And no, it doesn't taste anything like chicken.  Anyway, it travels well in a sandwich, and plays well with mushrooms.  What more could I ask for?

14 comments:

Amber Shea @Almost Vegan said...

I love love LOVE Central Soyfoods tofu. It is hands down the best I've ever tried...I buy it exclusively. Now I'm wondering if I have tried, or even seen, their tempeh...new mission for me. Anyway, score one for Midwestern vegans!

In fact, you just helped me decide what to have for lunch. I just ran to the kitchen and put some CSF Mexican Fiesta tofu in my TofuXpress to drain. :)

I got Appetite for Reduction a couple weeks ago and am reading it cover to cover. I'm so happy Isa did a low-cal cookbook! So far I've only made the baked falafel, but it was great. 40-clove chickpeas are next.

Vegan Piggy said...

Mexican Fiesta Tofu?! What? Is there such a thing? I need to go to Whole Foods ASAP! Is that where you bought it? Did you hear we're finally getting a Trader Joe's? I'm sooo excited!

I have a bunch of recipes to try in AFR. I bought way too much stuff at the store, and now I can't decide what to make! Glad you're back to KC. So excited for your new chef status. I have so much to learn about raw food. I pretty much know nothing, so I love reading your posts :)

bakerymanis said...

tara i am so stoked you are back in blogland. looks like you've been busy these past weeks! i missed your recipes!

Vegan Piggy said...

Aww thank you :) I always burn myself out, but then I come back. Thanks for missing me!

Kim Gordon said...

Hi tara - I'm a new reader to your blog. Love your story...I'm a carnivore married to a vegetarian. I'm with you on tofu and tempeh - would love to know how you get central soy foods. Looks like they're a Lawrence company - do you go to Lawrence to get it? Thanks.

Vegan Piggy said...

I'm not sure if you can get it outside the kansas city area. They don't have a website, so there's no way of knowing where they sell it. I know for sure they sell it at all the Whole Foods in the area, and also at Green Acres Market up north. Do you live here in KC? If so, you should be able to find it. I'm guessing they also sell it at what used to be the whole foods (can't remember the new name) in Westport. Central Soy is really so good. It's worth trying to find :)

My husband needs to update his little write up. He has gone vegan completely. I cooked enough yummy things to convert him :)

Amber Shea @Almost Vegan said...

Yes, there is such a thing! I get mine at my Whole Foods (the 119th and Metcalf location). They also have a Garlic Herb flavor I keep meaning to try!

They do sell it at the Merc in Lawrence too. I used to see the Central Soyfoods truck driving around all the time when I lived there. :)

I am STOKED about Trader Joe's! Do you know any new info on WHEN they're landing here?

I'm so glad you've been enjoying my posts! There's lots more good stuff to come ;)

And how awesome that Nate has gone totally vegan now!! Matt is practically as "almost vegan" as I am, now, too :D Hooray for positively influencing the men in our life! Hehe.

Vegan Piggy said...

So far I've heard May which seems very far away to me. The one in Kansas is getting held up because of their liquor licence (because they cant sell alcohol in a grocery store.) I haven't driven by any of the locations, but I hear one location has a coming soon sign up. I wish they had put one more mid-city somewhere like North Overland Park or something, but it will be worth the drive every once and a while. All you South people get all the awesome stuff. Poor me...

I did see the garlic herb tofu when I went, but I already had 3 blocks in my fridge (I'm developing a problem.) They didn't have the Mexican one at the 95th store. I've seen the truck at FUD a few times. I should hit the guy up next time. "Psssssss....Can you hook me up with some tofu?"

Oh, and how in the heck do you not buy bread? Say what? I can usually show a little restraint, but I'm not sure I could live without it. Nate has the problem with the Bread of Life bread. He douses it with maple syrup every morning lately, and endures my bemoaning the fact that he is wasting my precious and very pricey syrup for something so un-refined :)

Kim Gordon said...

Thanks for the info, girls! I am transitioning from Bentonville, AR to KC. (I love to walk around the Whole Foods and marvel and all the pretty food and variety...we are really limited down here.) My husband and I are opening a vegan meal delivery service in Downtown Overland Park this spring. Will DEFINITELY look into Central Soy for our business! Thanks again for the resource.

Vegan Piggy said...

Kim, I'm excited about your business! Do you have a website up yet? That is super cool :)

Laura said...

Tara, I'm so happy you're able to post again. I missed you. First of all, your photos always look delicious. Fear not about that.

I was wondering how you bake your tofu. I've tried it a couple different times -- both times with cubed tofu -- and it never really took on a denser consistency. It was just hotter. Yours looks quite tasty. Thanks!

Vegan Piggy said...

I marinated it overnight in 3/4 c. veggie broth, 3T. Balsamic, 2 T. Tamari, 1 t. thyme, 3 chopped cloves of garlic. Bake for 350 about 30 minutes, flipping after 20 minutes. Broil it for 3-4 minutes at the end. This isn't my recipe. It's from the cookbook I mentioned.

It doesn't necessarily get crispy, but it does lose that acrid taste that tofu has if it isn't cooked and does become more firm. Also, I always wrap it and press it in paper towels. Lots of other people use the Tofu Express which I would love to have (I think that's what it's called.) It gets the extra water out. I like it better the next day though even after all that. It's even more firm then. I don't think I'll every saute tofu straight again without baking it.

Vegan Piggy said...

Also, purchase a good quality tofu. Until you find one you love, all the prepping won't work anyway. I think this method works best in think slices, at minimum 8 slices per block. I don't think it would work as well on big cubes.

Laura said...

Thank you so much! Can't wait to try it.