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Expert Soy Cooking Tips
By Marie Oser
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Shopping & Cooking Tips

Soyfoods have been at the center of the Asian diet for more than five thousand years. In more than five centuries, chefs around the world have come up with some great ways to prepare this versatile legume, the health conscious cook's "Kitchen Chameleon." Here are my top ten tips to make soy dishes with great flavor, texture and eye-appeal.

  1. TOFU: When cooking with tofu, selecting the right texture is key. There are two basic styles of tofu. Chinese style tofu is water packed in tubs, has a spongy texture and is best suited for recipes that require a lot of handling. Japanese style tofu has a silken texture and neutral flavor that is perfect for dips, quiche, puddings and pie fillings. Choose firm or extra firm tofu for most applications.

  1. TOFU: Pressing tofu makes it firmer by forcing liquid out. Wrap a block of tofu in a clean kitchen towel. Place it on a cutting board in the sink and top with a platter and can (or something with a little weight). Set aside for an hour, drain and proceed with the recipe.

  1. TEMPEH is fermented from cooked whole soybeans and therefore rich in fiber, unlike tofu and soymilk. It is important to tenderize tempeh before adding to a recipe. Cube tempeh, place in a steamer over boiling water and steam 15 minutes. You may store steamed tempeh in the refrigerator until ready to use it in a recipe for up to five days.

  1. EDAMAME in the pod is a tasty appetizer that is threaded between the teeth to release the 'sweet beans.' These baby soybeans are harvested while ripe but still green and can go from freezer to table in less than 15 minutes. Shelled Edamame is a terrific addition to vegetable medleys, casseroles and salads.

  1. SOY ALTERNATIVES are pretty sophisticated these days. Simply substitute these ready-to-use soy/wheat gluten hybrids for animal products in your favorite recipes for meat-like flavor, texture and appearance.

  1. MISO is a living natural food, rich in enzymes and beneficial bacteria. Easy to digest and highly nutritious, add miso to soups, sauces, marinades, dips, salad dressings and main dishes for complex depth of flavor. Blend miso with a small amount of liquid, such as broth or sherry before adding to the recipe.

  1. SOYMILK is a dairy-free beverage made from soybeans and substitutes one-for-one in any recipe that calls for cow's milk.

  1. SOY SAUCE: Shoyu is soy sauce that has been fermented naturally in the traditional Japanese way and aged up to three years. It also contains wheat ingredients. Many soy sauces sold in America contain no soy at all and are made from fermented wheat, so look for real soy sauce to get the soy benefits.

  1. SOY SAUCE: Tamari is a natural soy sauce similar to shoyu, but tamari is made exclusively with soybeans, and is wheat-free. Tamari has a rich, mellow flavor and a dark color that adds a distinctive depth of flavor to many recipes.

  1. SOYNUTS are roasted soybeans and a tasty snack, similar to peanuts. Soynut Butter is made from roasted soynuts and has a flavor similar to peanut butter. more
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