Soybeans aka “Meat of the field”
Soybeans look and grow in a pod much like sugar snap peas. Soybean pods grown in a clusters and attach to the stem of the plant. They pods are about 2 1/2 inches long with 2-3 beans to a pod. The green outer pod is not smooth like the familiar sugar pea pod but a little fuzzy like a kiwi skin. Frozen soybean pods are sold in bags and very quick and easy to prepare.
Cook in boiling, salted water about 5 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water. Sprinkle liberally with salt. Serve warm with the shells on and eat them by squeezing the beans into your mouth by the bottom end of the pod. The pods are not tasty and not edible so don’t try. These are a fun and very healthy appetizer!
Recently soy products have gotten bad press in being linked to some types of cancer. Further studies have shown that moderate consumption of whole soy foods are safe for healthy people and in fact research data suggests that soy foods regularly consumed during adolescence substantially reduces risk of breast cancer in women. The study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found strong evidence of the protective effect of soy based products had on the body. To further reduce your risks to your health simply avoid overly processed soy products altogether.
Miso, soy sauce and tofu all are products which come from the soybean. Tofu is a cheese-like product made from the curd of mashed soybeans. Tofu is naturally vegan and gluten free. Try my Jazzed Up Chicken Broth when you feel that cold coming on or you are simply in need of a pick me up.
Broiled, baked or fried, tofu is superlative
Tofu is packed with protein and an excellent source of iron and calcium It is an ideal diet food due to low fat and low calorie content and it’s versatility. The bland nature of tofu is actually its greatest asset in that it can be paired and combined with a vast assortments of food and flavors and it simply takes on the flavor of whatever it is prepared with. I challenge you to name one other food you can broil, bake, fry, scramble and make into a great tasting smoothie?
In the U.S. fresh tofu comes packaged in 14 oz plastic containers filled with water. Keep tofu refrigerated at all time as it spoils easily. Here are a few more tips:
- Once opened you can store the unused portion in a plastic container large enough to cover the remaining portion with water.
- The tofu will stay fresh about 5 days but you must change the water daily.
- Tofu should not be put in the freezer as this will completely change the consistency.
- Except when used in soup or poaching tofu should be drained well.
- To drain- wrap in a paper towel and place on dish with low bowl inset and refrigerate 1 hour, changing the towel at least once. Or slice it and arrange on several layers of paper towels spread over the board.
You will find 3 main varieties of fresh tofu in your local market. Silken is the most delicate and is best eaten as is, either cold or hot, drizzled with soy sauce and topped with chopped green onions. It is the variation most often used in clear soups and miso soup.
Firm tofu is firmer and denser than silken and perhaps the most versatile of the three. It should be drained of moisture before use in most meals except stews, soups or other braised dishes.
Extra firm the densest variety and best used for broiling or tofu steaks. This block may be so dense it will not be necessary to go through the draining process prior to cooking.
A few other favorite tofu products are Deep Fried Soybean Puffs or Aburage. These are crinkly golden puffs often used sliced thinly in miso soup as seen in the picture above. This product freezes well and will almost assuredly be found in the freezer of the Asian supermarket.
However, Seasoned Aburage may come in a can or a bag in the refrigerator section of the store. These smaller seasoned pouches are most often seen stuffed with vinegared rice and the result is Sushi! Read my blog on sushi pockets for this incredibly popular recipe.
Fried Tofu cutlet or Atsuage. Sold in blocks or smaller cubes, the tofu is deep fried so the outside is golden brown yet inside is white and soft. Before using, pour boiling water over it and lightly press with kitchen paper to reduce oiliness. Great pan fried with a light sauce or in stir fry dishes.
You may think you won’t like tofu because it looks strange or you have tried it once and did not care for it. Give it one more try and be sure to do something different this time. Baked, fried, stir-fried or scrambled, tofu is healthy and great for weight loss.
Do your body a favor and give it one more shot and be sure to let me know how it goes!