Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tofu Stir-Fry Dish Is a Vegetarian Delight

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tofu Stir-Fry Dish Is a Vegetarian Delight

Article excerpt

I first encountered tofu as a college freshman at a quaint vegetarian restaurant just down the street from my dorm. Tofu appeared as a regular ingredient on pizza there; and being college students, of course that's all we ever ordered. I fell in love at first bite.

Vegetarian dinners growing up meant fresh vegetable plates, cooked Southern style, during the peak of our summer garden, or in winter, macaroni and cheese. I was ignorant on the wonders of vegetarian proteins. On that first pizza, I thought the tofu was some kind of cheese.

It is, in a way. Separating soy milk (the liquid left over from cooked, ground soybeans) into curds and whey makes tofu. The curds are pressed together, in a process that resembles cheese-making, into a cake. The different textures of tofu -- soft, firm, extra-firm, etc. -- are a result of how much whey has been pressed out of the tofu cake.

As I grew older and wiser, I ordered tofu in every conceivable fashion. From Italian pasta dishes with tofu, to marinated, grilled tofu cutlets, to Asian stir-fries -- through the years I've ordered them all.

These days you don't have to go to a restaurant to enjoy tofu. Tofu is the most popular soy product in the country, and manufacturers are making it easier to find in regular supermarkets. Just look in the produce section. Tofu is packaged in plastic bags or containers. The different texture types are well-marked.

Believe it or not, tofu is easy to use. It's lightning fast, which makes it ideal for meals on the busiest of weeknights. It's also good for you. Recent studies have shown that eating soy products regularly can lower cholesterol, balance hormones and help prevent many forms of cancer.

Tofu is a chameleon, taking on the flavors of the ingredients with which it is cooked, as it does in today's simple stir-fry. What's not to like, except maybe the name? Tell the kids it's cheese.

Send us desperate tales of woe or everyday success stories and your favorite quick recipes to Despera-tion Dinners, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016; or e-mail: ddinners@aol.com.

MIDWEEK TOFU STIR-FRY WITH ORANGE GINGER SAUCE 1/2 cup orange juice 1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce 2 teaspoons bottled minced ginger 2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic 1 12-ounce package extra-firm tofu 1 cup long-grain rice 1 tablespoon peanut oil or vegetable oil 1 large onion (for 1 cup slices) 10 already-peeled baby carrots 1 medium red bell pepper (for 1 cup strips) 1 8-ounce bag frozen snow peas

Make a marinade by pouring the orange juice, soy sauce, ginger and garlic into a 2-cup measure. …

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