I felt hurt on behalf of the tofu when I read this:
Tofu may be versatile, but one of the benefits of tasting of nothing is that it doesn’t clash with anything. Its texture is moist and livery, and even self-professed tofu-lovers only like it with something. It’s just not real food: it’s croutons for self-righteous hippies who’ve lost their dentures.
Just because it doesn’t jive or spice does not mean it deserves that level of vitriol.
To those who say tofu is vile on its own. I believe, like cheese slices, this is relative. Like cheese under-appreciation in the east, it is also cultural.
As with most things derived from Asia, the perception of tofu in the west suffers from unfamiliarity, promoted as a power-packed protein pillow, but otherwise bland and hopelessly uninteresting. Worse, it’s rep is strained through its affiliation to certain circles, which can leave a bad taste in one’s mouth.
On the other side of the world, tofu enjoys an esteemed place. It’s good for practically all dishes: an economical savior to plump small portions , and a gustatory balance to overly meaty dishes. Basically fermented from the magnificent soybean, there’s an unspoken whisper of its efficacy for good skin, good heart, good health, good life- which did help it segue (along with the Buddhist boom in the 70s) into the vegetarian niches of the West.
Here, cheap and adaptable, it’s an every-man, every-day dish.
In chinese restaurants, it’s usually the filler dish when you’ve already got the fish and the crab and the beef, and obligatory vegetable. I like scanning the menu to see what tofu variations they’ve come up with, and it’s always satisfying to find a classic style well-done.
It is precisely the subtlety in taste and texture that induces a similar calmness to the whole experience; it’s impossible to chomp on tofu like a carnivorous maniac.
Free flow of tofu:
Ma Po Tofu
Japanese egg tofu
Ma Po Tofu again