January 12, 2022
Whether you're a vegetarian, vegan, reduced-eating vegetarian, or none of the above, tofu and plant-based alternatives are likely to become a bigger part of your life than they used to be. I was a vegetarian for a long time and subsisted heavily on dairy before I learned that dairy is really quite scary in terms of environmental impact.
I've always been a picky eater, though, and tofu was my antagonist; I wanted to love the stuff because it's full of good things, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. For quite a while, I would buy a block of tofu about once a year, prepare it unsuccessfully, discard it, and forget about it for twelve months.
One of the main reasons many of us don't like tofu is that we're not supposed to like it. Depending on where you're from or when you grew up, you've heard many a tofu joke. Tofu is an ingredient in "fake food" and only an alternative to good food, not something that is good on its own.
If you're struggling with the mental factor, consider this: while tofu is relatively new to the American diet and is only considered a health food, it's been around for more than 2,000 years and likely originated in China.
If texture bothers you, tofu can cause problems. The texture of regular tofu is soft and possibly spongy. Regardless of what bothers you about the stuff, try to figure out the specifics. Tofu can be prepared in a variety of ways, and whatever your problem is with the consistency can probably be solved by preparing it differently.
Tofu has a mild flavor, but it still tastes like something. If you don't like the taste of soy milk, you may not like the taste of tofu. To me it tastes slightly sour or bitter, after all it is made from curdled beans. The taste can also be affected by the preparation.
It may seem silly to order something at a restaurant that you don't think you'll like, but let's face it: the restaurant can probably prepare it better than you can.
Include tofu in your usual order or order it right away. I always found that I liked tofu much better in restaurants, but couldn't manage to prepare it well at home. Eventually, I found that I often ordered tofu at restaurants that was so heavily fried that it no longer had the moist, soft texture that made me squirm.
It may take more than one try before you find something you like, but I wouldn't worry; while I've prepared some inferior tofu, I've never ordered anything bad.
Now that you have determined that tofu is a food you like (or can like), try preparing it. Prices vary depending on where you live, but I've found that tofu is relatively cheap; right now I can get a serving for 0.50 to 0.75. If you have a few duds, try to eat it anyway. If you can't, it's compostable as a plant-based food. When I was learning to cook tofu, I cooked one serving at a time. If the cooking wasn't good, I didn't waste an entire block of tofu that way.
How do you like your tofu?
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