Tofu: What Is It And Where Did It Come From?

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Tofu, also known as bean curd, is a food made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into soft white blocks. It is a component in East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines.

There are many different varieties of tofu, including fresh tofu and tofu that has been processed in some way.

Tofu is bought or made to be soft, firm, or extra firm. Tofu has a subtle flavor and can be used in savory and sweet dishes. It is often seasoned or marinated to suit the dish.

Tofu is a very useful plant-based food and is a traditional component of East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines.

It is believed that tofu originated in ancient China and according to Chinese legends it is the Prince Liu Ann of the Han Dynasty that invented the coagulated soy milk blocks around the years between 179–122 BC.

When soybean is mixed with water to form coagulating soy milk the resulting curds is then pressed and formed into solid white blocks of varying softness.

The tofu can be made to have varied texture ranging from silken soft, soft, firm, or extra firm depending on which food recipe it will be incorporated with later on.

Since the tofu almost has no natural flavor of its own, it can be used in savory and sweet dishes that chefs often seasoned or marinate in order to blend it into the dish and its flavors.

The tofu has similar properties with sponges and therefore it can also absorb the flavor of the recipe that you prepare when you incorporate it into the hotpot or saucepan.

This is the reason why many people love to eat it. It is also a low-calorie vegetable that sometimes mimic certain meat types, which makes it delicious to consume.

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Tofu in Teppanyaki

For over a thousand years the Chinese, Japanese, and other Asian countries have been using the tofu as a vegetable additive to their dishes and it would not be until the word “tofu” would be recorded in the letter of English merchant James Flint that he wrote to Benjamin Franklin in 1770.

Interestingly, tofu would also not be included in teppanyaki-style recipes in Japan until the teppanyaki iron griddle was invented after WWII.

Today, however, tofu can be seen in just about every teppanyaki recipe that teppanyaki restaurants offer!

Can you make tofu on an Hibachi grill? You’d have to use a teppanyaki stovetop plate

Health Benefits of Tofu

Tofu comes from soybeans and soy protein is an enzyme that helps reduce LDL or low-density lipoproteins and keep our hearts healthy.

For women, the phytoestrogens (also called isoflavones) are chemical compounds found in plant foods that helps fight breast cancer, which is why doctors recommend women who will be entering their menopausal stage include soy-based foods like tofu in their diet.

If you eat tofu that’s included in teppanyaki recipes, then you will in effect gain more health benefits besides the ones mentioned above as teppanyaki foods are mostly vegetables, seafood, and white meat.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.