Tofu, a Healthy Traditional Food in China

By Mary Bai, Oct 19, 2011

Coagulated from an extract of soybeans, Tofu or bean curd is a traditional Chinese food known all over the world. There are many different varieties of tofu and tofu cuisine in China. In addition, tofu is also known as a healthy food for old and young.

 

History

 

Tofu is thought to have originated in ancient China during the Western Han Dynasty. In fact, tofu is an unexpected invention by prince Liu An, the grandson of Emperor Liu Bang. At that time, Liu An was eager to learn the magical art of immortality, so he went deep into the mountain to refine immortal pills. However, he failed to produce immortal elixirs, instead, a pile of white and tender material with enticing fragrance was produced after combining the bean juice with bittern. This is the earliest record of the famous Tofu.

 

 

Production

 

The producing procedure of traditional Chinese tofu uncludes coagulating soy milk and pressing the resulting curds. Although pre-made soy milk may be used, most tofu producers begin by making their own soy milk, which is produced by soaking, grinding, boiling and straining dried soybeans. Coagulation of the protein and oil (emulsion) suspended in the boiled soy milk is the most important step in the production of tofu. This process is accomplished with the aid of coagulants, usually salts and acids.

 

Recipes of tofu

 

Chinese people have developed and enriched the recipes for tofu dishes on the basis of their own tastes, such as Mapo tofu, stinky tofu, pickled tofu and uncongealed tofu pudding, etc. Simple as tofu is, it can be made into a table of Chinese dishes complete with beautiful color, sweet smell, and delicious taste.

 

A healthy food

 

Tofu has been universally acknowledged and favored as an ideal food for its high protein, low cholesterol, low heat, and low fat. Therefore, it is an important source of protein in the vegetarian diet of East Asian Buddhism. Tofu is high in iron and, depending on the coagulant used in manufacturing, may also be high in calcium and magnesium. It is said that as much as 95% of tofu can be digested and absorbed. Besides, tofu is composed of soy isoflavones, which helps to prevent cancers of the breast and uterus.