What is Tofu (Dubu) ?
Dubu 두부 (Tofu in Korean) is made from curds of soy milk that are pressed into shape.
This traditional method of making tofu originated in China, and was introduced to the rest of Asia originally as a meat substitute for Buddhist monks. It later grew in popularity due to its affordability and health properties, making it a staple in not only Korean cuisine, but in dishes across Asia.
In Korean cusinine, there are basically 3 different categories of Dubu - Extra Firm(regular Dubu 두부), Firm(Yeondubu 연두부), Soft (Sundubu 순두부). Extra Firm Tofu (Dubu) is also sometimes called 찌게용 두부 (tofu for Jjigae). They are firm enough to not break when thickly sliced and held up. It holds up well in soups and stews. It is known to absorb marinades and flavors well, and is easy to cut and handle.
Soft and silken tofu or Sundubu on the other hand are used mostly to make Soft Tofu Stew (Sundubu Jjigae 순두부찌게). Because of how fragile and mushy it is, silken tofu cannot be cut into pieces like its firm variant but ate with a spoon.
Where and What To Buy
You can buy Tofu in various firmness from most grocery stores. Just make sure you get the firmness your recipe calls for.
My favorite brand is Pulmuone 풀무원 (at Korean and some American grocery stores, it goes by Wildwood) - they have been making tofu since I was a kid.
How to Use/Cook
- Just slice, salt and pan-fry in oil until browned. This is the simplest way to enjoy firm tofu. Pan-Fried Tofu Recipe.
- Add to soups and stews like Kimchi Jjigae, Doenjang Jjigae for extra protein.
- Slice and serve with sauteed Kimchi. 3 in 1 Kimchi Recipes.
- Add to Dumpling stuffing or Wanja Jeon.
How to Clean/Store
Store unopened tofu in the refrigerator.
Once a package of tofu has been opened, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to a week by taking the unused portion and placing in a sealed container filled with cool water. Changing the water daily will keep the tofu fresher for longer.
You can tell when tofu has gone bad when it has a slimy feel, the smell is slightly sour, and occasionally a bit of yellowing and off-coloring appears on the outside. Gross!
Tofu is used as a meat substitute not only for its ability to maintain flavors and marinades, but for it's high protein content.
Soy protein has also been found to decrease bad cholesterol, and when compared with animal proteins, it is a heart healthy alternative.
Tofu also has all of the essential amino acids your body requires, and vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, and fibers for your gut. It also boasts a high isoflavone content, which means it may also benefit bone health, brain function, weight loss, and much more.
Recipes that use it:
CancerSci— https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19860847 JournalOfNutrition— https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3796344/