Plain tofu is produced from soybean curds and is therefore naturally vegan. It's a great source of protein in a vegan diet and it has a very mild flavor, making it super versatile! You can add it to savory recipes as meat replacements, make vegan cheese or even use it for desserts like vegan cheesecakes or puddings to add creaminess!
Although regular tofu is vegan, there are a few types of tofu to look out for when following a vegan diet.
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You will, however, want to check the ingredients list before purchasing any flavored varieties. Some brands may use additives that contain animal products, and some tofu recipes are prepared with non-vegan ingredients.
❓How is Tofu made
Tofu is produced from dried soybeans that have been soaked in water, then crushed and boiled. This crushed bean mixture is then separated into a pulp and soy milk, then salt coagulants are added.
This helps separate the curds from the whey, which is then pressed into the familiar block shape.
🏪 Store-Bought Tofu
Plain, unflavored store-bought, tofu is most often vegan. Some grocery stores, however, offer flavored or marinated tofu, and it is important to check the ingredients list to be sure there are no non-vegan ingredients in the flavoring/marinades.
🚫 Non-vegan tofu dishes
While standard tofu is generally vegan and vegetarian, there are a couple of methods of preparing tofu that involves non-dairy ingredients. For example, stinky tofu is popular Chinese street food in which tofu is fermented in dairy milk or shrimp brine and it is, therefore, non-vegan.
Egg tofu is a popular dish in Japan and Taiwan that is made of soy milk and eggs. Some tofu dishes may also use non-dairy ingredients in sauces, such as honey, so it is important to check ingredients or ask your server before ordering at a restaurant.
🌟 Types of tofu
Tofu is categorized by its consistency or texture, which is determined by its water content. While different types of tofu have a similar taste, some tofu products are better suited for other recipes, so it's helpful to know which type you're buying.
Silken tofu has the highest water content, giving it a silky consistency. This type of tofu is best used when trying to add creaminess to a recipe and is suited for smoothies, dips, cheesecakes, etc. I love to use it in my chocolate cream pie, silken tofu pasta sauce, tofu chocolate mouse, and tofu sour cream recipes. See all of my silken tofu recipes.
This type of tofu is still soft, but a bit more compact than silken tofu. Regular tofu is often used in vegan soups and stews as it is good at soaking up flavors but you can also use this type to make tofu scrambles or for a vegan egg salad.
Firm or Extra-Firm tofu
Firm and extra-firm tofu is more compact than silken and regular and is typically packaged in water. This type is the easiest to slice or cube and then pan-fry, deep-fry, stir-fry, or bake. Be sure to drain as much water as possible so that the tofu can absorb flavors from any vegan sauces or marinades. It's great for faux meats like tofu fried chicken nuggets.
High protein tofu
High-protein tofu is super-firm and packed full of plant-based protein making it an excellent replacement for meat in many dishes. You likely won't need to press high protein tofu as it has low water content, and it's great for pan-frying, deep-frying, or stir-frying. Just be sure not to overcook it as it does have a tendency to dry out.
This is a special type of puffy tofu which has a spongy texture. You may have gotten this type of tofu at an Asian restaurant or you can buy it premade in Asian grocery stores. It's extra crispy on the outside and soft and spongy on the inside.
🌾 Is tofu gluten-free?
Plain tofu is usually gluten-free, but if you're purchasing a favored variety, it is best to check the ingredients list to make sure there are no glutenous additives. Some brands like 'House Foods' and "Morinaga' make certified gluten-free tofu, so if you want to be certain there is no cross-contamination, look for those brands or a gluten-free label.
📋 Tofu recipes
We love tofu in our house and use it in tons of recipes. You can check out all of my tofu-based recipes on the blog, but these are a few of my family's favorites
- Deep Fried Tofu
- Breaded Tofu
- Tofu Ricotta
- Orange Tofu
- Sweet and Sour Tofu
- Tofu Pasta Sauce
- Tofu Feta
- Sticky Tofu
- Tofu Egg Salad
- Tofu Scrambled Eggs
📌 Be sure to follow me on Pinterest for new vegan recipes!