Hi everyone. I’m George Stiffman. I lived in China for two years apprenticing in ancient tofu factories and cooking with Buddhist chefs, and recently wrote a cookbook, available for free on Amazon (US): https://www.amazon.com/dp/1737514117 and on our website (US and elsewhere): https://brokencuisine.com/get-your-free-copy-of-broken-cuisine/ .

In the States, tofu is seen as a naked white block, firmer or softer. But in China and greater Asia, it’s a whole category, with 25 different types. Some tofus taste like cheese, fish cakes, phyllo pastry, bread… Others melt... Most people outside the culture are completely unfamiliar! Which is a shame, because they are some of the most delicious, affordable, and sustainable proteins out there. AMA.

Proof: https://imgur.com/0ofY5sv

Comments: 550 • Responses: 102  • Date: 

ReheatedZiti180 karma

Besides the 5 tofus you feature in the book, are there any others that you think would integrate well into Western cuisine?

msgisvegan227 karma

Oh man... so many! Guizhou 爆浆小豆腐 (and the similar Yunnan 包浆豆腐) both melt a little. They would be delicious in, say, ravioli filling. Guizhou 荞灰豆腐 is another. It has a super dense but tender texture, delicious braised. I wrote a list of some these awhile back: https://brokencuisine.com/a\_list\_of\_almost\_every\_single\_chinese\_tofu/

Even more basic, firm tofu curdled with pickled vegetable juice tastes more salty and flavorful, so avoids some of the bland traps of the American stuff.

The_Troll_Gull15 karma

Lived in China as well for 7 years. I still can’t stomach stinky tofu. My Wife loves cooking it and making me gag

msgisvegan18 karma

To be honest I can't either...

lnfinity109 karma

What is the backstory that led you to journey across the world to seek out different cuisines from what you had experienced growing up?

msgisvegan221 karma

I wanted to eat less meat but found it really tough. Most food was around me was either subtractive (meatless) or substitutive (mock meats) and I didn't love either. I got lucky one summer to attend a language exchange in Tianjin, China, and the breakfast food of that city happened to be like 50% vegan, by accident... so I decided to learn more about it


What’s a staple lazy weeknight tofu dish? I usually will stick a whole block of firm tofu into the air fryer, chop it up, and throw it into whatever. Maybe with some gochujang or soy sauce. Is there something equally lazy but better?

msgisvegan87 karma

A couple of my favorite easy options:

  • Cube firm tofu, blanch in salty water (pasta water saltyness), drain, then mix with fresh herbs (scallions, cilantro, basil, etc.) + salt + sesame oil + minced garlic. (In China, silken tofu is often mixed raw with scallions and a little salt, though I personally prefer adding some other seasonings.)
  • Cube firm tofu, add to a bowl, top with salty sauce (like doubanjiang chili bean paste or duojiao 剁椒 chopped chili) + little soy sauce, cover with a plate, microwave for 5 minutes. The tofu will release a lot of it's water, which will form a sauce.


I like the second idea! I'll try it out.

I know silken tofu is good for a lot of these quick recipes. I need to start buying that.

msgisvegan4 karma

Awesome! Let us know how you like it.

Silken tofu can be delish too. Totally just depends on personal preferences.

bac200138 karma

I have never tried tofu in my life and live in the US- what would you suggest as a gateway tofu into the genre as a whole?

Binksin7949 karma

For a first timer, fry that stuff buddy. Season it, bread it, fry it.

msgisvegan41 karma

extra points for blanching first in salty water, draining, then frying

msgisvegan47 karma

Depends what textures you like. If you prefer chewy, I'd go for spongy tofu 千页豆腐. You can get online at www.sayweee.com (I wrote a quick buying guide here https://tofutuesday.substack.com/p/the-best-way-to-get-ahold-of-chinese)

If you prefer something more soft, fresh silken tofu is delicious, topped with fresh herbs and sauces or a savory gravy

bac200115 karma

Thank you for the quick and thoughtful answer, appreciate it!

msgisvegan9 karma

Happy to be of help! Glad you're interested in this stuff

lnfinity9 karma

Did you mean to link to sayweee.com?

msgisvegan8 karma

oh yes, sorry I goofed on that link!

bboycire37 karma

So Chinese soups are mostly very thin, think Italian wedding soup. One kind of tofu goes well with the soup is frozen firm tofu. You just buy some firm tofu, freeze it, then thaw and dice it. The water in tofu freeze and expand, compacting the fibers in between each pocket of water, changing the texture to something a bit more spongey, and it soaks up lots of soup and flavor

msgisvegan9 karma

This is the stuff! :)

manki11138 karma

Can also try those deep fried tofu, you can definitely find some for hotpot, fried bean curd paste 響鈴 or tofu puff 油豆腐.

msgisvegan3 karma

Oh yeah, hot pot is an even easier.

LaserTurboShark6926 karma

What is the most common tofu misconception?

msgisvegan85 karma

Probably that tofu is just a white jiggly block. There are 25+ varieties! And they're all super different.

Other candidates...

  • Tofu is bland. Conventional tofu is usually bland, but there are TONS of flavorful varieties, like 腐乳 fermented, 豆干 pressed, 千页 spongy, etc
  • Firm tofu should be pressed and marinated. It doesn't absorb much seasoning unless it's cooked in a sauce.

Bansaiii17 karma

Got any advice for marinating? All I've ever read was "let it sit in soy sauce" but that always struck me as kinda lame since tofu is made of soy already.

msgisvegan45 karma

Tbh I don't recommend marinating firm tofu. Seasonings don't permeate deeply unless you cook it in those seasonings. It usually works better to blanch it first in salty water, like pasta, drain, then cook however you otherwise on. Or just braising the tofu in salty sauce.

prikaz_da11 karma

豆干 pressed

What's up with dry tofu being so difficult to find outside of major metro areas with large Chinese immigrant populations? It took me forever to discover a restaurant near me that serves it, and one of the dishes they use it in is on the secret "you gotta ask for it by name" menu. I love that shit, and everybody I've seen try it loves it too. Do people just figure Americans won't like it?

msgisvegan15 karma

Isn't dry tofu great?!

There are probably a few things at play. Dry tofu is mainly a Chinese food, rather than Korean, Viet, or Japanese, and Chinese food culture is less well understood by your average person [in the States], especially in the plant-based community. Because tofu isn't a high prestige food, Chinese chefs don't really flaunt the ingredients either.

prikaz_da10 karma

As a kind of afterthought I had while reading your reply, I suspect it may also be lurking in plain sight on some menus, simply because many Chinese dishes don't have established names in English. For instance, there are many menus that advertise both "combination fried rice" and "house special fried rice". Sometimes, one of those is code for Yangzhou fried rice, but which one is it? If the menu doesn't list the dishes in Chinese as well, you have to ask or guess.

There's also the factor of how hard the restaurant tries to make the English names sound appetizing. 魚香茄子 can be "fish fragrance eggplant", which sounds bizarre but leaves no question as to what dish it represents, or it can be something like "eggplant in garlic sauce" with a chili pepper icon next to it. That's a more pleasant name, but the exact nature of the "garlic sauce" is left unspecified.

msgisvegan3 karma

Oh yeah, that's a good point!

tensory5 karma

Chinese food in the US is synonymous with pork in absolutely everything. There are exceptions, of course there are, but they are much too rare to put that on the diners. The kosher Buddhist Chinese place in my city went out of business during covid, and that's that. I don't go out for Chinese anymore. I've visited China but not lived there, and since then I've always imagined this as a cultural view of food that is just incompatible with the western concept of "vegetarian." I don't want to go out to try a tofu dish if I'll be picking the garnish off. I don't think there is any obligation for Chinese cooks to cater to American plant-based and pork/shellfish excluding diets, but other than the very rare Buddhist place, not sure where I would even go that I could just relax and enjoy my meal. Or order more than one dish off the entire menu. Do you have any insight on this idea of different cultural culinary attitudes? Is that a real thing in your experience?

msgisvegan14 karma

Sorry that your kosher Buddhist Chinese place went out of business... that's a real bummer.

I actually have a pretty different take on Chinese food. I often argue with friends that it's the MOST veg-friendly of any cuisine.

  • The base of Chinese cooking isn't dairy or animal fat or stock. (A dish might sometimes use lard, but just as often won't, meaning it's not as essential as say, butter in French cooking.)
  • Chinese food has way more plant proteins than most cuisines. (Like 25+ types of tofu, 5+ types of seitan, 7+ common grains, and several common beans.)
  • China is a huge country, with almost a billion and a half people, with a ton of diversity in food preferences.

The biggest challenge for folks trying to avoid meat (or pork, shellfish, etc.) is that most vegetarian food in China isn't purposeful, it's coincidental. Traditionally, most Chinese people ate mostly plants, and so a lot of local specialties never included meat. But if you specifically ask for a dish to be vegetarian, people might not know what you're asking for, or why it matters to you. (Of course, Buddhist restaurants are all plant-based, but they're more limited.)

In the States, this is slightly different. There is less tofu and seitan diversity. There is also less representation from cuisines with more plants (Guizhou, Yunnan, Northeast, ...) and much more from the ones with the least (Cantonese, Fujian, ...). But in major cities there's often still a lot.

If you'd like to explore more, I wrote a little guide: https://tofutuesday.substack.com/p/the-best-tofu-dishes-to-try-in-chinatown . Hope some of this is helpful!

Realistic_Patience6717 karma

Hello Mr Stiffman.

I have heard that conventional Tofu (as opposed to Organic Tofu) in the US has to be avoided because of fertilizer chemicals etc. So I should be sticking to only Organic? What is a good brand?

Also, I see people discussing about Tofu as estrogen stimulating. What do you say about that?

Thanks! Wish you a tasty Tofu decorated life ahead of you in the USA! :)

msgisvegan69 karma

Hi there. Good question. I spent some time researching GM vs conventional soybeans, and my honest take is that there isn't a huge health different. In fact, according to most studies, the pesticides used on GM soy are less toxic than the non-GM alternatives. https://tofutuesday.substack.com/p/diving-into-the-soy-controversies

That said, tofu made in China is not allowed to use GM soybeans. So any imported products will be GMO free. I really love these brands: https://brokencuisine.com/tofu-buying-guide/

The estrogen question is interesting. Soybeans are unique for their high amount of plant (phyto) estrogens. But many studies have looked at how these impact humans, and the data is clear. Even eating 2 blocks of firm tofu daily will not meaningfully shift hormone levels, fertility, or anything like that. It seems that the plant hormones just don't do much to humans. (This piece from Harvard has a great summary of tofu health questions: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/soy/)

Thanks for your kind words! :)

twoleggedgrazer16 karma

As someone who lived in China and Japan for a few years and appreciates tofu in all its marvelous forms and flavors in a way I think you're familiar with, I first just have to say I am a huge fan, this is great work!

My question is this: good stinky tofu, starting from scratch: do you think it's impossible in a home kitchen? I have access to a home-made "fermentation station" and an outdoor wok setup for frying. I miss that stuff like mad.

msgisvegan10 karma

That's next level! But totally doable. There are a few steps:

1) Make your stinky brine. This is usually from fermenting dried vegetables, grains, and sometimes dried seafood until really sticky. Adding a block of stinky tofu starter (like this stuff: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09N7MRGJ4/ ) can speed up the process.

2) Adding your tofu slices to a hot, food-grade alum broth.

3) Resting your tofu slices in the stinky brine for a couple hours.

4) Draining then frying. (Or otherwise cooking.)

This Chinese video shows off the process pretty well: https://www.bilibili.com/video/BV1DC4y1a7Gb/?spm_id_from=333.337.search-card.all.click . Having an outdoor station definitely helps!!

AbraSLAM_Lincoln11 karma

I've been looking forward to this book for so long! Do you have any recommendations for how people can try different kinds of tofu when most of these options aren't carried in their area?

msgisvegan12 karma

ahh I'm so glad! If you're in the States, the online shop www.sayweee.com is your best bet. I wrote a buying guide in case that's helpful! https://tofutuesday.substack.com/p/the-best-way-to-get-ahold-of-chinese

JamesMcNutty11 karma

You and u/Philosophyforpeople mean “palate”, I think, rather than “palette”?

Also, great work OP, I moved to Japan a few years back and got into tofu for the first time here. The variety is wonderful. My favorite is probably kumiyuba 組み湯葉 as a sweet treat accompaniment, it’s pretty much the clotted cream equivalent.

msgisvegan3 karma

Thanks for the kind words!

kumiyuba is so delicious... I had it once on a short trip to Tokyo, but never since. Do you know any great learning resources on Japanese tofus? Would love to learn more!

PhilosophyforPeople10 karma

Curious if you have any insights on how to make tofu palatable or exciting to people who grew up with certain ethnic cuisines?

I've tried to introduce tofu to people who grew up with Latin American and South Asian palettes who didn't enjoy it. Do you think they'd enjoy chinese tofu?

Or are there types of in your book that you think could be used effectively in other cuisines?

Congrats on the launch btw! Just ordered my hardcover copy

msgisvegan17 karma

Thanks for supporting! This is a good question...

An analogy for tofu is chicken. Just as a chicken breast is totally different from chicken feet, so to are tofu types completely different ingredients, with different uses.

In terms of South Asian palettes, there are several tofus that are delicious braised, like in a curry. I'd check out 素鸡 Shanghai tofu, which has a custardy, eggy flavor, and 千页豆腐 spongy tofu. Here's a buying guide I wrote recently: https://tofutuesday.substack.com/p/the-best-way-to-get-ahold-of-chinese

If you're looking for a filling for something like tacos, I wonder if 包浆豆腐 lava tofu could work well. We don't have much of it in the States, but when grilled it develops a firm outer skin, then melts inside. So it adds texture, creamyness, and it's own unique flavor.

McLovinMyCountry10 karma

What is it about tofu that allows it to be so much more versatile than other foods? I can't imagine any other food being able to taste like cheese, fish, pastries, etc!

msgisvegan19 karma

Isn't it nuts?

Tofu's diversity is partially from it's high protein content. Proteins have interesting ways of folding and unfolding (coagulating and denaturing) under heat and changes in pH. When obstructed by long starch molecules, though, as is the case for beans and lentils, these proteins don't have as much activity.

For tofu specifically, fermentation, dehydration, and changing the pH all radically change it. If it helps, here's a list I wrote awhile back of some of the different types! https://brokencuisine.com/a\_list\_of\_almost\_every\_single\_chinese\_tofu/

Le_Vagabond9 karma

What's your favorite tofu dish and why is it mapo tofu?

msgisvegan2 karma

You're on to me!

dumber_than_thou9 karma

Could you tease your top-three recipes?

msgisvegan16 karma

Oh yeah!

My favorite is our thin yuba 油豆皮-based glass cannoli. If you fry the yuba, it puffs like tempura, for the most wonderful texture.

Spongy tofu 千页豆腐 in a Mediterranean cherry tomato and chickpea sauce. The texture of the tofu is tender but chewy and really absorbs the flavors of the sauce.

Shanghai tofu 素鸡 served like matzo balls in soup. The stuff is custardy, tender, juicy, and bouncy.

You can find all three recipes in our free e-book :) https://www.amazon.com/dp/1737514117

Odd_Mathematician5018 karma

What’s the best tofu-based dessert you’ve eaten?

msgisvegan18 karma

No question: glass cannoli made from fried thin yuba.

Take thin yuba, brush on simple syrup, sprinkle with coarse sugar, layer the layers, roll around a cannoli tube, and fry. The sheets puff slightly, taking on a tempura-like texture, that sort of crunches and sort of dissolves in your mouth. Filled with silken tofu chocolate ganache, and it's unstoppable. https://tofutuesday.substack.com/p/your-guide-to-fried-glass-cannoli

Fuzzywonton8 karma

I have a lot of friends who don't like tofu. What's the best tofu type or dish to give them to try and change their mind?

msgisvegan11 karma

I've been there too. I'd start by figuring out what textures they like. If they're not into the squishy, soft mouthfeel, they might like a pressed 豆干 or spongy 千页 tofu. Chinese restaurants often carry great options with these tofus: https://tofutuesday.substack.com/p/the-best-tofu-dishes-to-try-in-chinatown

If it's more a flavor thing that they don't like, that's easier. Just boil firm tofu like you would Italian pasta, with a ton of salt. Then season however you'd like. A lot of folks try just marinating it but that doesn't absorb much flavor.

armsandhearts8 karma

I use firm tofu as a chicken substitute in stir fries. What's the best way to cook it?

msgisvegan4 karma

Do you usually make wet (saucy) or dry (oil-based) stir fries?

For dry stir fries, I'd recommend either frying the tofu or blanching it in salty water (like pasta). Then drain and throw in with the other ingredients.

For saucy stir fries, frying or blanching in salty water can still help. It also works well to add cornstarch to your sauce. That way, the sauce coats the tofu and gives great flavor in every bite.

potatoaster6 karma

I want to make douhua at home and haven't had much success. GDL makes it too sour. Gypsum makes it chalky. My douhua doesn't coagulate reliably. What's your preferred method?

msgisvegan11 karma

After trying Tianjin douhua one summer I spent years struggling to recreate it! Then someone taught me, and it instantly became easy lol.

GDL is widely preferred in China for douhua for it's texture and flavor. There are a few keys:

- Keep the coagulation temperature between 85-95C. Any lower and it won't gel together. Maintaining the temperature in a rice cooker is one of the best ways.

- Make sure you filter out all the soymilk dregs. Ideally, use both a coarse and fine muslin. Cheesecloth is too coarse. Any oil or grease in the pot will also obstruct the coagulation.

- Measure your GDL amount by weight. If you add too much, it will taste sour.

If you're curious, I wrote an in-depth guide: https://tofutuesday.substack.com/p/fresh-silken-tofu-pudding . Hope this helps!

potatoaster5 karma

Thank you!

msgisvegan3 karma

Your welcome!

RespectYourShelf6 karma

If you had to pick a tofu variety and recipe to introduce to a beginner that had never tried tofu before, what would you suggest?

msgisvegan8 karma

Depends what you're into! But maybe pressed tofu 豆干 grilled cheese? Slice it thin, then layer between cheese (vegan if you want) and bread. Adds a nice texture, little bit of spiced flavor, whips up in a flash.

If you like softer, juicier tofu, then boiling cubes of soft or firm tofu in salty water, draining, then mixing with your favorite fresh herbs, minced garlic, salt, and sesame oil.

PandaSchmanda6 karma

How’d you end up living in China originally? Through cooking?

msgisvegan8 karma

A teammate on my high school tennis team did a language exchange one summer to Chengdu and it changed his life. I was lucky to be able to be able to a similar program the next summer.

While I didn't do much cooking during that trip, I fell hard for the food, and realized that I wanted to help more Americans understand it. After than, I spent several summers going back and forth, working in Buddhist restaurants and tofu factories.

to_glory_we_steer5 karma

Hi George, I'd be fascinated to learn about your favourite types of tofu, what are their flavours and textures like? Additionally what's the best way to prepare a tougher tofu?

msgisvegan6 karma

Hey thanks for the question. My favorite variety is probably 包浆豆腐, a meltable tofu from Yunnan. It naturally has a slightly eggy, savory flavor. It's often grilled, then dipped in a sauce of charcoal-roasted chilies, soy sauce, vinegar, and a woody Chinese medicine called 折耳根 zhe er gen.

A tougher tofu... definitely thin sliced, not cubed! Maybe blanched in salty water, to tenderize slightly. If it's really tough, baking soda water will tenderize it even more. Cooking in sauce rather than dry can also help.

Odd_Mathematician5015 karma

Thanks for making tofu so exciting!

Btw love the idea of exploding juice tofu. Is there someway I could make it at home?

msgisvegan2 karma

It's very finnicky, but if you want to try go for it! Here is my recipe: :) https://docs.google.com/document/d/16NRx_tHEmaPQF8htTHJmUBMn2zIC6tG16mUka8ORUKo/edit?usp=sharing

You can kind of cheat by using premade tofu, slicing it, and adding salt, msg, and sodium carbonate, but the flavor is nowhere near as good.

GoldenUther290620195 karma

What made you do this? Get this deep in to tofu? This is cool and random lol

msgisvegan6 karma

Very niche for sure lol

In high school I wanted to give up meat for environmental reasons but found it really tough. Around that time, I was lucky to be able to spend a summer in China learning Mandarin, and fell hard for the food. There was so much plant-based stuff in my city (Tianjin)...

Most cuisines don't have very exciting plant protein options, which really limits what their veg cooking can do. I started wondering what would happen if they suddenly had new building blocks, like these incredible tofus, so had to learn more!

jlemien5 karma

What are the restaurants (anywhere in the world) that are doing interesting/innovative things with tofu?

msgisvegan4 karma

Really good question. In terms of innovative tofu cooking, I honestly haven't seen too much attention, but I also haven't spent much time outside of China and the US.

In terms of traditional tofu cooking, the most exciting stuff in my mind is definitely happening in Guizhou, China. The province has like 6 or 7 types of tofu that you can't eat anywhere else, and naturally chefs do a lot with that. These foods are often simple: like grilled "hand ripped" tofu with seasoned chili powder, or fried tofu balls using pickled vegetable juice tofu. But they pack a punch.

ZenFook5 karma

What is the most unusual meal created with tofu that works (but it shouldn't)?

msgisvegan4 karma

A partner on the cookbook created a dish of fried tofu sticks topped with durian mango paste, a cashew cream sauce, and fermented tofu dust. Tropical and funky sweetness, crunch from the tofu sticks, creamy and oniony... totally wild

Puzzleheaded_Heat5025 karma

Tried making some myself with a recipe from online. I find that there is a lot of soy bean left over in the process. What do you do with the waste product?

msgisvegan3 karma

I tend to toss it. There's a decent amount of nutrition in the soymilk dregs, but also anti-nutrients like trypsin inhibitors, and I don't love the taste or texture enough to put in the effort.

There is a company in the States trying to repurpose the stuff into easy-to-use flours, but doesn't help so much with home cooking: https://www.renewalmill.com/ . In China, the dregs are often used to feed pigs.

Imrazulem5 karma

I want to like tofu really badly but have never been able to get or find tofu that tastes properly seasoned. It always tastes very close to how it would when it is unseasoned and raw. It's almost as if any spices or seasonings just... slough off of it? Sorry to make it sound unappetizing but that's the best way I can describe it. Is this a me thing? Do I just taste the raw tofu taste really strongly? Or is this a preparatory issue? I was very surprised to see you describe tofus that taste like cheese or pastry. I have only ever had access to the blocky kind.

msgisvegan2 karma

Good question - and no, you're not crazy!

Firm tofu doesn't do a good job absorbing flavor from cold marinades or dry seasonings, even if you press it. You usually have to cook it in salty liquid.

I'd try blanching cut cubes of tofu in very salty water (like for pasta), draining well, then a) tossing with a flavorful sauce and herbs or b) stir frying.

If the blanching doesn't help, you might really just not love conventional firm tofu. I'd look into some of the other varieties, like spongy 千页 or Shanghai 素鸡. Here's a guide to a few types https://brokencuisine.com/tofu-buying-guide/ , which you can purchase online in most of the US: https://tofutuesday.substack.com/p/the-best-way-to-get-ahold-of-chinese .

culturedgoat5 karma

Is 臭豆腐 (stinky tofu) effective at keeping away vampires?

(It was certainly effective at keeping me away from the 臭豆腐 stand near my place when I lived in Beijing…)

  • Not a vampire

msgisvegan6 karma

Given that I never saw a vampire in China, I'd say yes

anarchisticmeerkat5 karma

Do you have any recipes to recommend for people who are over doing the usual ‘marinate overnight and fry up the next day with rice/greens’ or scrambled tofu? It seems that I always see the same four recipes with a slight change on rotation which makes it harder to incorporate into weekly meals.

msgisvegan3 karma

To be honest, I don't recommend marinating firm tofu, as it doesn't absorb much flavor when cold. It works a lot better to heat it in a flavorful sauce, or even just blanch it first in salty water before cooking.

For tofu scrambles, you might want to try Shanghai tofu 素鸡. It has a naturally eggy flavor. (No need for black salt.) Just chop it up, simmer for 5-15 minutes (depending on how much time you have), then scramble :)

I have some tips for getting ahold of it here: https://brokencuisine.com/tofu-buying-guide/ and here: https://tofutuesday.substack.com/p/the-best-way-to-get-ahold-of-chinese

potatoaster5 karma

To prepare the soymilk, is it better to grind, strain, then cook or grind, cook, then strain? Do people ever cook the beans, then grind them, then strain?

Edit: OP writes here that straining before cooking has less flavor, which makes sense.

msgisvegan2 karma

Really good question. Assuming you have professional equipment (a press and draining rack), cooking then straining is much preferred. You get more beany flavor and higher yield.

If you're making tofu at home, straining hot soymilk can get very difficult. For hard core folks, sure, go for it, but for most people don't feel bad about straining first!

SquirrelSomeone4 karma

Why did you choose the name "Broken Cuisine" for your book? What aspects of cuisine do you think are broken?

msgisvegan14 karma

More and more folks are starting to worry about climate change and want to eat less meat. But Western plant-based cuisine is focused mostly on subtraction (meatless) and substitution (mock meats), which don't have broad appeal. Until the "cuisine" side of plant-based eating is improved, I don't think this diet will go mainstream.

The solution I'm most excited about is creating new cuisine, with new tools, like Chinese tofus

TheEnemyOfMyAnenome4 karma

Really cool work man. What's your favorite type to use for mapodoufu? Do you have any guizho recommendations in NYC?

msgisvegan2 karma

Thanks man. The two traditional options for mapodoufu are soft or firm tofu. Which you use is mostly a personal preference.

I personally prefer firm since it has more flavor than soft tofu. It also allows you to use more oil without getting a greasy mouthfeel (soft tofu gets an oily slipperyness) and you can use less cornstarch in the sauce. Which do you like best?

I visited NYC a couple months back and was looking! But not much to be found for Guizhou tofu, unfortunately. I did write up a guide to some of my favorite places though: https://tofutuesday.substack.com/p/a-tofu-tour-of-new-york

hammerquill4 karma

I would love to be able to differentiate the tofus so I can find the ones I like better. I have had very good tofus but avoid buying and cooking with them because it's hard to find anything but the bland jiggly stuff. And I would be fascinated to taste the ones you say taste like bread or phyllo. How do you find these in the US? I live blocks from one of the country's best supermarkets, and 20 minutes from a major Chinatown. But what do I look for?

msgisvegan3 karma

That's awesome you're so close! I actually wrote up a guide to some great brands and types of tofus: https://brokencuisine.com/tofu-buying-guide/ . If you can't find any near you, you might also be able to find them online: https://tofutuesday.substack.com/p/the-best-way-to-get-ahold-of-chinese . Good luck!

desertsmowman3 karma

Is there a way to use tofu to replace wheat in baking?

msgisvegan3 karma

Ultra thin types of yuba can mimic phyllo pastry in dishes like baklava or spanakopita, or pastry crust in Napoleons. It's really amazing! Though I'm only familiar with one brand that's truly thin enough: https://brokencuisine.com/tofu-buying-guide/ (If it's too thick, it will taste tough.)

Shanghai tofu 素鸡 has a bready mouthfeel, so can be stewed into almost like a tres leche-style cake.

PhilosophyforPeople3 karma

Also--another question! Is it easy to find the nutrition content for these different kinds of tofu? With regards to American tofu, firm has more protein.

Curious if there are chinese tofus with more or less protein and if you have way to find that information?

msgisvegan3 karma

Oh yeah, there are tons of more high protein tofus. 素鸡 Shanghai tofu has 2x the protein of firm by weight. 千张 tofu sheets have at least 4x. 油豆皮 yuba or tofu skin is similar to tofu sheets.

Unfortunately, most of this stuff is imported, as local markets aren't big enough to support domestic production! So I tend to take those nutritional labels with a grain of salt.

Simon_Ives3 karma

Sounds great! Any chance OP can setup Amazon so the digital copy is free/available outside the US? I’m in Australia if that helps.

msgisvegan4 karma

Absolutely!! I applied through Amazon to drop the price internationally, and they said it should be approved by the end of tomorrow.

You can also find a free PDF on my website, if that's easier: https://brokencuisine.com/get-your-free-copy-of-broken-cuisine/

MJB90003 karma

What do you recommend a cheap way to make tofu, to use as a chicken substitute in dishes and able to eat more healthy on a budget?

msgisvegan2 karma

One quick way is to chop it up, boil it in salty water, then mix it with a dressing and fresh herbs. If you want more chicken flavor, you can add chicken bouillon to the salt water.

If you can find it, I'd probably recommend looking for 素鸡 or Shanghai tofu. (The Chinese name is vegetarian chicken, and while it doesn't taste exactly like chicken, it's closer than firm tofu.) It's sold online in a lot of the US: https://tofutuesday.substack.com/p/the-best-way-to-get-ahold-of-chinese

rafads3 karma

Are they all made from soy?

msgisvegan3 karma

Most tofu is made from curdled soymilk. It's hard to curdle other legume milk, as they have more starch, which blocks the proteins from binding together. You can remove the starch, but it's a lot of work, and you have lower yields. Mary's Test Kitchen does a great job on breaking down that process: https://www.marystestkitchen.com/high-protein-soy-free-tofu/

There are also traditional "tofus" that made from rice, almond, chickpea, oatchestnut, peanut, etc. Granted, these ingredients are starch not protein gels, so have a completely different mouthfeel.

Shakeamutt3 karma

What are your favourite recipes?

msgisvegan3 karma

Hmm... probably thin yuba-based glass cannoli, cherry tomato-braised spongy tofu, and Shanghai tofu as soup dumplings.

(All of those are free in our book.)

regularacc3 karma

Hi George!! Not a super deep question but... where do you think the tastiest tofu in LA is?

msgisvegan4 karma

Hey there!! There's so much good tofu in the city... in terms of the Chinese stuff, my favorites are probably Tasty Dinning spicy pot and Shanghai No.1. I actually wrote a little guide awhile back :) https://tofutuesday.substack.com/p/the-tastiest-tofu-dishes-in-los-angeles

(There's also a ton of great Korean, Viet, and Japanese tofu in the area, but I'm not as familiar)

billskelton3 karma

Everytime I eat Tofu I get horribly sick and break out in eczema, experience asthma, and get itchy eyes - sometimes for days. Any advice?

msgisvegan3 karma

Oof, sorry to hear! Tofu might be not for you my friend.

tehnomad3 karma

Where in China did you train? What styles are the most popular?

msgisvegan4 karma

I trained in restaurants in Xiamen (southeast) and Beijing (northwest-ish), and worked in a tofu factory in Guiyang (southcentral). The food we cooked in Xiamen and Beijing was very traditional southeast temple food. Surprisingly, we used more seitan than tofu. (The seitan was VERY different from stuff in the US - more tender, savory, and less grimy tasting).

The Guiyang tofu factory specialized in two varieties from Bijie in rural Guizhou province: 爆浆小豆腐 exploding juice tofu and 大方手撕豆腐 Dafang hand-ripped tofu. We would eat these simply: pan fried in a pungent Chinese rapeseed oil and dipped in seasoned chili powder, grilled, or dried then fried to be eaten like a puffed shrimp chip. I miss the stuff so much.

that_baddest_dude3 karma

Is tofu made of soy?

msgisvegan3 karma

Yes, most tofu is made from soybeans. Soy is unique among beans in that they have a very high protein content (~40%) and low starch. This allows soymilk to gel. (Other beans can be used to make tofu, but you must first remove the starch, so your yield is substantially lower. https://www.marystestkitchen.com/high-protein-soy-free-tofu/ )

There are also traditional "tofus" made from other ingredients, like almond, chickpea, oatchestnut, rice, etc., but most of these are "starch-gelled", so have a completely different mouthfeel.

dinydins3 karma

When will the kindle book be available for Australian users?

msgisvegan3 karma

Sorry if it's not already available... we also have a free PDF on our website https://brokencuisine.com/get-your-free-copy-of-broken-cuisine/

Turtledonuts2 karma

Hi George,

I'm real late to the party here, but do you have any insights for grilling or smoking tofu? Thanks!

msgisvegan3 karma

Hey there,

In terms of smoking, this approach is most common, usually with thinner pieces of pressed tofu 豆干 or tofu sheets 千张, but you could probably use thin slices of extra-firm. Put a piece of tin foil at the base of a wok. Top with a little bit of tea or sugar. Place a wire rack on top. Put your tofu on top of that. Cover. Heat the wok past when it's smoking up until when the lid starts feeling hot, or yellow smoke starts coming out, then turn off the heat and wait a minute. This Chinese language video from 3:17-3:45 is a good visual https://www.bilibili.com/video/BV1Kk4y177LB/?spm_id_from=333.337.search-card.all.click

There are also a ton of great grilled tofus in China. These are some of my favorites: https://tofutuesday.substack.com/p/bbq-tofu-for-independence-day

Happy to provide more pointers on any of this if it would be helpful!

A_Flamboyant_Warlock2 karma

Is there a tofu that doesn't have the texture of a dirty sponge soaked in mop water? Because I cannot eat that, and everytime I've tried tofu, that's how it's come out.

msgisvegan2 karma

Damn... sorry for your tofu misadventures.

There are a ton of other tofus. If you like things chewier, I'd check out pressed 豆干 and spongy 千页: https://brokencuisine.com/tofu-buying-guide/ . Pressed is very dense, is great sliced and stir fried, or added to grilled cheese, and has a wintery-spiced flavor. Spongy has a savory taste and is tender but springy like a fish cake.

babyalbertasaurus2 karma

Can you recommend Chinese dishes? My husband ends up in Guangzhou for work and has no idea how to access healthy, vegan, high protein dishes.

msgisvegan4 karma

Oh cool! Guangzhou's a beautiful city. Cantonese cuisine is pretty limited for vegetarian food, since lard and animal-based seasonings are super common, and there isn't so much tofu diversity. But the region also has a large Buddhist community, so there are a ton of vegetarian and vegan-specific eateries. Buddhist 斋菜 is the most surefire way to find veg stuff.

There are also plenty of non-Cantonese restaurants in Guangzhou. I'd look for places specializing in Shanghai, Yunnan, Dongbei, Beijing/lucai, hotpot, etc. and search for some of these dishes: https://tofutuesday.substack.com/p/the-best-tofu-dishes-to-try-in-chinatown .

Hope this helps!

theactualhIRN2 karma

Do you have a link of this book in pdf or epub? I’m too stupid rn to find it.

TastyLaksa1 karma

Do you realise your passion in tofu also makes you kind of a pervert in the Chinese eyes?

Hint: the joke is about “eating tofu” of women

msgisvegan1 karma

For such a humble white block... it has so much meaning! lol

simonthegray1 karma

I have been told tofu contains very high amounts of estrogen and males should avoid eating too much of it. Any truth to this?

msgisvegan3 karma

Some rat studies have shown estrogenic effects from eating soy isoflavones, but those results haven't replicated to humans. Human studies have looked at eating the phytoestrogen equivalent of ~2 blocks of firm tofu a day for extended periods of time and found no effect on testosterone, fertility, thyroid health, etc.

If you want to dive into that research, this is a pretty comprehensive article: https://examine.com/articles/is-soy-good-or-bad/ (NOTE: they say to avoid large amounts of soyfoods for more than 6 months, but by that they mean very very large amounts.)

Hope this helps!

VillainOK1 karma

Is soy bad for men ? Does it actually promote higher estrogen markers or is that a myth ?

msgisvegan3 karma

It's a big myth. Studies show that eating up to 2 tofu blocks worth of isoflavones for an extended period of time has zero effect on estrogen/testosterone, fertility, thyroid health, etc.

(There have been a couple cases of kids drinking gallons of soymilk a day, and they've developed issues, but that's far from normal consumption.)

This article does a good job summarizing the evidence: https://examine.com/articles/is-soy-good-or-bad/

bluerabbitskyhigh-1 karma

I read somewhere that too much soy is bad for you. It was one of the reasons I stop eating tofu /vegetarian, as soy was in everything. What are your thoughts on that?

msgisvegan2 karma

The Harvard Nutritional Source has a great summary on the topic. Their main takeaways is that soy foods (like tofu) can be safely consumed several times a week (and likely more), and may even have health benefits: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/soy/

35mmpistol-2 karma

does it still have the estrogen issue?

msgisvegan1 karma

Thankfully no.

Soybeans are unique for their high amount of plant (phyto) estrogens. But many studies have looked at how these impact humans, and the data is clear. Even eating 2 blocks of firm tofu daily will not meaningfully shift hormone levels, fertility, or anything like that. It seems that the plant hormones just don't do much to humans. Granted, there have been case reports of kids having problems after drinking gallons of soymilk per day, but that's not normal consumption.

This piece from Harvard has a great summary of tofu health questions: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/soy/ and this article dives deep into hormones: https://examine.com/articles/is-soy-good-or-bad/

Also, people in Asia have been consuming high amounts of soyfoods for at least a 1000 years, and there haven't been abnormal amounts of hormonal issues.

Recon_by_Fire-3 karma

Does it turn your teeth yellow?

msgisvegan2 karma


speedfreek101-5 karma

Does it make men grow tits?

msgisvegan6 karma

Nope. Male tits are more a problem of obesity.

Studies have looked at eating up two firm tofu blocks worth of soy isoflavones a day and shown no effect on hormones, fertility, thyroid, etc.

There are case reports of some people drinking like a gallon of soymilk a day and running into problems, but that's really extreme. This post summarizes some of the research: https://examine.com/articles/is-soy-good-or-bad/