Nowadays, tofu is becoming a well-known staple food in the West, especially now more people are interested in eating vegetarian food, but it wasn’t always like that. In Japan, tofu has been a part of the menu for many centuries, as Buddhist traditions promote eating vegetarian food. Tofu was first made in China and it was introduced to Japan in the Nara period (710-794).
Tofu’s base ingredient is soy, which has been made into soy milk and then curdled and made into blocks. It is very healthy and rich in vegetable protein, calcium, potassium, and Vitamin B, which makes it such a good meat substitute. To top it off, tofu is low in calories and good for people who want to lose weight.
There are many variations of tofu, like silken tofu, the firmer ‘cotton tofu’, fried tofu, freeze-dried tofu, tofu skin yuba, and sesame-based tofu. When eaten uncooked, since it is light in taste tofu is often topped with spices such as finely chopped green onions and grated ginger, and soy sauce is poured over it. It is also often used in Japanese cooking, it is said that there are several hundred recipes using tofu.
There are even restaurants that are specialized in tofu, one of the most famous (and expensive) one being Tofuya Ikai in Tokyo.