rushthatspeaks: (Default)
Via [personal profile] fiddledragon.

Well, this is definitive.

Seriously, this book has every conceivable fact about tofu: history, preparation as it differs between various countries, and recipes for every possible form of tofu and byproduct of making tofu. The authors are involved with Zen Buddhism and give recipes both from various important Japanese temples and monasteries and from several tofu restaurants that are so famous even I have heard of them.

Since tofu is very central to Japanese food, this is also, almost as an afterthought, the most thorough Japanese cookbook I have as yet met. There is an okonomiyaki recipe in here that looks plausible, which would by itself make me happy; there's every variant on nabe I've ever heard discussed; there's even a tamago-doufu recipe on the grounds that although it's made of eggs it's the same word as tofu so it ought to be present.

And the book tells you how to make your own tofu in several different consistencies and at both home and business production levels, how to make your own soymilk, how to make the various forms of fried tofu, and, and this makes me cheerful, how to make your own yuba, which I am so doing because I have always wanted to try fresh yuba and it has never been logistically possible. (Yuba is the skin that forms on the surface of heated soymilk, which can be lifted off and dried in sheets.)

There are also numerous Chinese recipes, small chapters on tofu in Korea, Taiwan and so on, and a lot of recipes which attempt to put tofu into forms the authors think will be appealing to Americans, which, well, I guess if one must but seriously I have my doubts about that particular set of recipes, somewhat.

The book is incredibly propagandistic about how good tofu is for the health and the environment and how we should all eat more of it all the time and it will probably save the world, in a very seventies-environmentalist way which relies on statistics and figures. This makes parts of it, the first chapters especially, certainly information-loaded but dry and laden with the vague feeling that someone is trying to sell you something. I consider this the major flaw of the book, because the later bits where the information about amounts of protein etc. are worked in among the recipes read much better.

At its best, though, this is amazing. For instance, they have yet another solution to the problem a lot of people have of not being able to keep poached eggs to hold together: set your water or broth boiling, take a slice of firm tofu, scoop out a little divot in the center of the slice without going all the way through, sprinkle with soy sauce and lemon juice, crack the egg into the divot and gently ease the whole thing into the water. This sounds to me as though it would turn out a quite impressive poached egg.

So yeah, if you need The Exhaustive Reference Work On Tofu, and honestly you may well because as I said this is one of the better Japanese cookbooks I've run into, here you go.


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