Whole Story

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Try Tofu

By Alana Sugar, September 22, 2010  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Alana Sugar
All of our birthday celebrating (our big 3-0!) that brings up memories of the good ole days. Like eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the roof of the original store in Austin so we could see the fireworks on July 4th! Or that hilarious Halloween when we changed the name of our best selling Gouda cheese to "Nasty Rat Milk Gouda from Hell" and sold more than ever before! Our customers loved it and continued to ask for it for many months. But mostly, I remember being introduced to unique and creative ways to use a plethora of natural, delicious foods. One such favorite was, and still is, tofu. Growing up in Honolulu I had eaten plenty of delicious Asian food, but I had never seen tofu sold in a bulk bin like we did at Whole Foods Market. Back then we ate it in stir fries, sandwiches, spreads and Macrobiotic-style dishes. Now that it has become a staple for many vegetarians and people with dairy allergies, tofu can turn up in just about anything from soup to pastry to cheesecake. Nutritionally speaking, tofu is an excellent source of quality plant protein. Because of its mild flavor, tofu is really versatile - ideal for absorbing the flavors of your favorite marinade or other ingredients in your dish. You can mash it up and transform it into a cheese-like substitute, perfect for lasagna, manicotti, ravioli and other favorites. One quick trip to the tofu aisle at your local Whole Foods Market will turn up several non-dairy, soy-based versions of many traditional favorites such as cream cheese, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese and sour cream. You'll also notice several varieties of tofu including Soft, Firm, Extra Firm, Silken and Pre-Baked  Ready-to-Use. The textures of these variations depend on the type of coagulant used while making the tofu. Magnesium chloride creates firm dense tofu while calcium sulfate yields a soft, smooth consistency. GDL (Glucono-delta-lactone), an acidifying agent, is used to make the silken variety. Here are some fun ways to use all the different varieties: Firm and Extra Firm Tofu: Soft and Silken Tofu: Pre-Baked Ready-to-Use Tofu:
  • Add to stir-fries, rice, noodle and grain dishes. Here's a dish of Cashew Noodles with Broccoli and Tofu.
  • Slice and eat on a sandwich.
  • Cube and add to salads. I love this Tofu and Sesame Noodle Salad.
  • Skewer chunks with cherry tomatoes, zucchini, pineapple chunks and purple onion. Grill and serve over rice.
  • Chop up finely and add some diced onion, celery and a little mayonnaise for a delicious tofu salad. Great stuffed into a ripe sweet tomato!
Once you open a package of fresh tofu (not the pre-baked variety), be sure to store it in water in the fridge and use it within a few days. If desired, you can freeze it and change the consistency to a "meaty-like" texture, ideal for soaking up delicious marinades, dressings and sauces. Got a terrific tofu recipe or some favorite ways you like to gobble it up? Let me know!

 

20 Comments

Comments

paig292 says ...
@Suzanne You'll need to ask your local store's prepared foods team. We have regional as well as store chefs who have a great deal of autonomy in creating their own dishes. They will know best!
09/29/2010 2:51:18 PM CDT
suzanne says ...
I would love a recipe for the popcorn tofu that is often sold on the salad bar and also cooked in the vegetarian general tsos in prepared foods section. Do you buy it already made or what?
09/29/2010 11:33:20 AM CDT
Kar says ...
I know that I sound like a tradtionalist aka old-fashioned but I never understood why people try to make tofu not taste like well, tofu. Instead of disguising it in lasagnas or as a substitute other dishes, why not just use it straight up in dishes that highlight the light textures/flavors? I understand that people use it for allergy stand-ins but I'd rather have tofu plan in broth with some watercress than overprocess it as a cheese or a smoked-lemon-barbecue-cutlets.
10/04/2010 3:23:02 PM CDT
Joe @ Eden Kitchen says ...
Mmm, I love to cook with tofu. One of my favourite all time recipes is a pineapple red curry with soft tofu. The juicy, sweet pineapple combined with rich, aromatic spices, and creamy tofu is just heaven. Take a look at the recipe: http://edenkitchen.com/pineapple-red-curry/
09/22/2010 6:04:42 AM CDT
Cooking4carnivores says ...
Just used it to make this spicy Thai noodle dish - http://www.cooking4carnivores.com/2010/08/my-thai.html
09/22/2010 1:08:41 PM CDT
Howie Zwerman says ...
I tried tofu years ago and hated it,,,,ech! I just tried it again, and now I love it! I slice it thick, dip it in seasoned scrambled eggs and then bread crumbs, then fry it, and wow!!!! I put tomato sauce and shredded mozzerella cheese on it, and its my "chicken" parmigiana!!!!!!
09/22/2010 6:40:36 PM CDT
Yumburgers says ...
How funny you say you grew up in Honolulu and never saw tofu sold in bulk - you must not have shopped in Chinatown or some Japanese groceries! Punahou '66
09/22/2010 10:40:24 PM CDT
Sandy Frazier says ...
I remember when I lived in Austin, going to the original Whole Foods all the time (1986) for that delicious homemade tofu salad, Texas tofu, and the brown rice. I still have some of those recipes and use them to this day.
09/23/2010 9:41:15 AM CDT
Patrick Clarke says ...
Great recipes. As a newer vegetarian who is on the cusp of going vegan, these are very helpful. Thanks!
09/23/2010 2:24:22 PM CDT
Stacy says ...
If someone hasn't tried tofu yet, someone's really missing out! That's like not trying... corn. It's so versatile, but quality and taste can really vary between brands. I have to say the 365 Organic's tofu is just an amazing deal-- good-tasting, cheaper than all other brands I can find locally, and organic to boot! So nice.
09/23/2010 8:46:02 PM CDT
Bar says ...
This sounds great. I'm a vegan, and adore tofu. Too bad my local whole foods doesn't carry more than the bare minimum - no silken tofu, none of the fancy things listed above like vegan cream cheese.... I will have to mail order my silken tofu, by the looks of it. Thanks for different standards for different neighborhoods, Whole Foods.
02/01/2011 7:24:08 PM CST
Zofia Carta says ...
Of course, what an excellent website and informative posts, I will add backlink - bookmark this site? Regards, Reader.
07/30/2011 12:08:27 PM CDT
JGK says ...
Hmmm. From what I've been able to find "silken" is not the same as soft. Silken is a Japanese style of making tofu and there are both firm and soft types of silken. This article makes it sound as if all types of silken are soft and interchangeable. Is this true? Are soft-silken, firm-silken, and extra-firm-silken all interchangeable? Should the heading for the 2nd paragraph say "Soft and soft-silken". Is soft non-silken style interchangeable with silken soft?
04/08/2012 1:17:22 PM CDT
jgk says ...
... continuation of prior comment .. This link seems to indicate not all silken is soft, but it is also somewhat vague and confusing as to all silken is the same? It say .... Both silken and regular tofu can be found in soft, medium, firm and extra firm consistencies. They are made from the same ingredients, but they are processed slightly differently, and are not interchangeable in a recipe ... but then says the following, which only equates firm and extra-firm silken but then says alll silken types are interchangeable?? Most recipes will let you know when silken tofu is needed. I find that there is little difference between firm and extra firm silken tofu, and for most purposes, the different kinds of silken tofu are interchangeable, so don’t worry if your grocer only stocks one kind ...Has anyone confirmed that firm-silken and soft-silken are interchangeable?
04/08/2012 1:25:13 PM CDT
Cornel says ...
Do u haVe soY coTTage cHeese?
06/24/2013 11:16:38 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@CORNEL - Our products vary between store locations. Check with our local store to see what brands they carry!
06/25/2013 2:43:33 PM CDT
Diane says ...
Is the chick tofu sold in the salad bar made with chicken broth or is it all vegetarian?
09/02/2013 4:13:44 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@DIANE - Our recipes and ingredients vary between stores. Check with your local store to find out the full ingredient list.
09/02/2013 4:48:02 PM CDT
Barbara Louviere says ...
My husband recently had mitral valve heart repair surgery at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. In the cardiology building they had a salad bar among other eateries, but being a vegetarian, the salad bar was my favorite. The tofu that they offered on the bar had the consistency of chicken. I was wondering if you might know if this is a certain brand of tofu or a certain way to prepare it. I asked at the Clinic if anyone could tell me what brand of tofu they used, but got no answers. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Barbara Louviere
04/02/2014 2:19:26 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@BARBARA - I'm so sorry to hear about your husband. We have tons of tofu recipe options on our website you can share with the kitchen for them to use. You can find the tofu recipes at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/search/tofu.
04/02/2014 4:47:58 PM CDT