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S5E34 Ask Jack – Cooking with Tofu

Listen to S5E34: Ask Jack – Cooking with Tofu

Welcome to Living Well with MS, where we are pleased to welcome Jack McNulty as our guest! Jack is a professional cook and a longtime follower of the Overcoming MS Program. In this episode, he answers questions from the community about how to cook with tofu.

Keep reading for the key episode takeaways.

Topics and Timestamps

01:42 What is tofu?

02:37 Is it possible to make tofu from scratch?

03:59 Benefits of adding tofu to your diet.

05:54 Debunking the myth that ‘tofu is bland’.

07:03 Saturated fat levels in tofu.

08:52 Different types and textures of tofu.

16:24 The difference between tofu and tempeh.

21:49 Ways to change the texture of tofu.

28:57 Do you have to press tofu before cooking?

31:22 Jack’s favourite tofu marinades and recipes.

Selected Key Takeaways:

Tofu is an affordable, easy-to-digest, source of protein.

04:25 “Tofu is fairly easy to digest. A lot of people who may have trouble [digesting] legumes can actually digest tofu a little bit easier than they can from the whole bean, which is nice. It’s definitely a good source of protein. It’s really affordable. The other thing that I think that’s really interesting with tofu is it’s basically just a blank canvas.”

Tofu vs. tempeh

17:01 “Tofu is made from soy milk from the whole soybean turned into milk and then coagulated. Tempeh which originates from Indonesia (and you see it a lot in Indonesian cooking) is [made from] whole beans. It’s generally soybeans, but it can be made with other kinds of beans like chickpeas and is pressed together and inoculated with a mold and then packaged so it has this sort of white net around the beans, which gives it a very specific flavour.”

Pressing tofu can make it dry.

29:19 “You want to be careful [pressing tofu] because you’re forcing out a lot of the moisture from the interior of the tofu that’s going to make it fundamentally dry at the end. I would be very cautious with recipes that say, ‘start off by pressing the tofu’. I think it’s much better to take a different approach, maybe freeze it, maybe pour some boiling salted water over it, or marinate it rather than pressing it.”

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Transcript

Read the episode transcript

Overcoming MS  00:01

Welcome to Living well with MS. This podcast comes to you from Overcoming MS, the world’s leading multiple sclerosis healthy lifestyle charity, which helps people live a full and healthy life through the Overcoming MS program. We interview a range of experts and people with multiple sclerosis. Please remember, all opinions expressed are their own. If you are able to, we would be grateful if you could donate to help support the podcast and other work of Overcoming MS to help give hope to those impacted by multiple sclerosis. If you enjoy the show, please leave a review. These are quick to do and really help us.

Geoff Allix  00:40

Welcome to the latest edition of Ask Jack. It seems like it’s been a while before we’ve had one of these, but welcome back to Jack McNulty, where we’re going to be getting some more OMS compliant cooking advice. And today we’re going to jump into tofu. So we’re trying to investigate tofu. As far as I’m concerned, tofu is probably the first thing that people think of when you say vegan. And I particularly like it because prior to following the OMS diet, I’d been traveling in Southeast Asia a lot where it’s just a normal food stuff. So I was quite familiar with tofu already. So it’s something I’ve always had a bit and and now you’re probably a lot more. So. Welcome back. Jack.

Jack McNulty  01:31

Thanks a lot, Geoff. It’s good to be back. I’m really looking forward to our discussion today and chatting a little bit more, or digging into tofu.

Geoff Allix  01:42

So let’s start off with ,what is tofu? Is it a plant? What is it?

Jack McNulty  01:49

Yeah, tofu, it’s been around for 1000s of years. And it’s essentially just soy milk, more or less a higher fat soy milk that’s been set by a coagulating agent. And that’s essentially what it is. If it’s just set without pressing, then it’s going to be something like silken tofu. But then if that curd is – to use a cheese term – is actually pressed to press out some of the water, then it becomes firmer. And so depending on how much it gets pressed, will determine the actual texture of the tofu.

Geoff Allix  02:37

So literally from the soy milk you could buy in a store, you could actually make tofu from that, by using an agent.

Jack McNulty  02:48

You could, there are a couple of things to be aware of. First of all, it just needs to be a natural tofu so no oil, no salt added, which is difficult to find. So that’s going to be your first challenge. But your second challenge is  it has to have a minimum of four and a half grams of fat, I believe, per cup, which is two and a half deciliter and something like nine grams of protein. So it’s going to be a fairly rich soy milk, which is yeah, not the easiest thing to find. You can do it with some of those store purchase tofu if you have a good coagulating agent. But chances are is the quality of the actual tofu will not be the same. If you did want to experiment in your own kitchen. It’s pretty simple process to make your own soy milk really.

Geoff Allix  03:43

It’s not a massively processed food then, so if I’m aiming for a plant based whole food diet and you sort of think like most of what I eat is a recognizable thing that grew. Tofu’s not.

Jack McNulty  03:59

Exactly. I mean, if you look at the back of most tofu packages, I have one handy here. I mean, you just look at it and just look at the ingredients. It’s basically soybeans, water and nigari. Nigari is the, in this particular case, the coagulating agent that goes into the tofu, there’s three ingredients. So it’s very natural. And there are some other advantages. I mean, because of the process, it’s fairly easy to digest. So a lot of people that may have trouble with some kinds of legumes and things can actually digest tofu a little bit easier than they can say from the whole bean, which is nice. It’s definitely a good source of protein. And I think two other factors, I think come into play to anybody that wants to go down the path of adding tofu to their diet. First of all is really affordable. So in these these days, that’s something certainly that’s really valuable. The other thing that I think that’s really interesting with tofu is it’s basically just a blank canvas. You know, when it comes to flavor, tofu itself doesn’t have a lot of flavor, but it acts like a sponge, you know, and you can really do some interesting things to create different flavors and textures in your dish, you know, and some people, what is it? Is it you know, sort of a meat replacer then or is it a cheese replacer, I’ve heard some people refer to it as that. But in essence, I think the best way to look at is just a it’s a protein replacer. So, it’s just a way to add more protein into a dish, and you can make it really, really flavorful.

Geoff Allix  05:54

And I think that’s one of the things people say, it’s really bland. Yeah. But that’s because you’re just eating plain tofu.

Jack McNulty  06:03

That’s true. And then unfortunately, that is the experience with most people. So think about this scenario, you know, you’re in some kind of restaurant that’s going to serve up a lunch that has some kind of healthy bowl of some sort, you know, with various grains and sauces and vegetables and this sort of stuff, and tofu, and you get it and they did absolutely nothing to the tofu, they sliced it, it is generally even actually cold in a warm environment in this bowl, and it tastes of nothing. So no wonder people are going to just say, oh, yuck, you know, I think Nigel Slater, a famous British food writer, once called tofu. Oh, gosh, what did he say, the beige blubber? This is how he put it. And this is why you know, it’s because people don’t really know how to work with it. So let’s solve those issues today, shall we Geoff?

Geoff Allix  07:03

We’ll come back to them, so nutritionally, though, you say it’s high protein, saturated fat?

Jack McNulty  07:11

Let’s take a look, I can just give you a good example. I’ll look here on this. I’m looking at a pack of tofu here. So fat in this particular one per 100 grams, it’s going to be about six grams, six and a half grams of fat, of which they say one gram is saturated. But that’s going to be a natural saturated fat. That is from a whole food, which in theory on the OMS diet, you don’t even count those, you know, you don’t even really worry about that sort of stuff.

Geoff Allix  07:45

I tend to think two and below then, yeah, the percentage wise is generally pretty low. And you know, I don’t count anymore. That was the thing at the start of my OMS journey we’re all counting. Then there came a point when they were saying don’t count. Just go for low saturated fat stuff. And you’ll be fine. And that’s kind of the way I look at it. Okay, less than two, whole food. I’m good to go.

Jack McNulty  08:07

I am kind of the same way, Geoff. I don’t even really, to be honest. I don’t even really look at the labels of it. Because I’m comfortable with what I’m buying. I’ve been doing it for so many years that I don’t even really pay that much attention to certain fat levels of things that are made from natural whole foods like this.

Geoff Allix  08:25

Yeah. So a good, definitely a good ingredient to use. So you mentioned silken tofu. And there are multiple types of tofu. So I think some of them are more obvious than others. So there’s regular tofu, which I think is probably what people are familiar with. But then also there’s silken, firm, extra firm. Because they haven’t necessarily named them brillantly?

Jack McNulty  08:51

Yeah, this is where we get into some difficulty because there are no rules as to how tofu gets labeled. Right. And so, there are certain things that you can look at, as a general idea, protein level will be the number one thing, so silken tofu we’ll just begin there. So silken tofu is basically going to be coagulated rich soy milk, by rich meaning generally a higher fat soy milk, and it’s done over low heat, and there’s no waiting whatsoever so there’s no pressing of the curd that occurs. I think, if you’ve ever had the luck and I have of being in a Japanese restaurant and ordering fresh tofu, I had this experience once before where they just came and basically, it was almost like a little bit of a fondue container or a mini fondue container. They poured some soy milk in there. They put a little coagulating agent in there and they covered it and it was lit by a candle and they set a timer on the table for 20 minutes and at the end of 20 minutes we take the lid off, and we’ve got fresh tofu, which was, which was very soft, but almost like a panacotta, that sort of texture. And you just eat that with a little bit of ginger, spring onions, maybe some garlic or something like that, just absolutely delicious, warm, really flavorful and that’s what a silken tofu will give you. I think, apart from having the luck to eat it that way, you can use it in some soups, like a miso soup or something like that. But it will disintegrate fairly quickly if the soup is too hot. I think the best use for a silken tofu is it works really well in baking. And I like to use a bit of silken tofu, when I’m interested in making something that’s going to have a custard like finish, something like a quiche, like a vegan quiche, something like a custard pie, if you’re gonna go sweet, that sort of thing. And it gives you that sort of rich texture that you would use in replacing eggs, you know, the egg-milk mixture kind of thing for custard. So I find silken tofu is really excellent for that sort of thing. Now comes the next problem. So then we go up a little bit, and some people call it regular, some people call it semi soft, some people call it firm. There’s even different levels and categories of silken tofu, like extra soft and firm silken which is getting a little out of control, then there’s firm tofu, extra firm tofu, there’s pressed tofu. And you can kind of go on and on with this. And I think that, the best thing to do really is start to look at the labeling and a semi firm kind of tofu is going to have around eight grams of protein, firm tofu will be a little bit more, somewhere around 9 or 10. And like an extra firm will be even higher at 12 to 14 grams of protein, or something like that, you know, and you can always just hold this up, you can always just take it and pinch it, you know, and you get a general idea of how firm it is just by pinching it. The other thing you can do, of course, is do the old chef trick to figure out when meat is done. And you can apply the same principle to the kind of tofu. And so if you just hold up your hands, and your little finger and thumb, and then press this point right here, it’s relatively without putting any pressure with your your two adjoining fingers here, the thumb and the finger, it’s, it’s pretty soft, you know, that’s gonna be a semi soft tofu. And as you go up the line, and you get to that point, it hardens. And so you can kind of let that go,  that’s going to,that pressure there, that’s going to be a little bit more of a firm tofu, then if you put a little bit of pressure on there, it’s going to be really firm, really hard. And that’s going to be sort of your extra firm or pressed kind of tofu. And all of that means water content. And water content becomes sort of important in how you’re cooking the tofu. So depending on the cooking method you’re using, so most people are going to either bake it or use an air fryer, even pan fry in a dry pan or something like that and the water inside the tofu, if it’s too dry, you’re going to have a sort of chalky, dry kind of experience with the texture of the tofu.

Geoff Allix  09:25

We have had some real success with an airfryer actually, where the recipe said to fry, I thought well, I’m gonna use an air fryer and see what happens and actually it got quite a crispy outside. Yeah, but it retained the moisture in the middle. So that was Yeah, it wasn’t,  I mean, I’m not really aiming for meat anymore. I think I’ve been so long without meat that it doesn’t matter, but it was just a nice mouthfeel basically.

Jack McNulty  13:58

Exactly. And that’s what we’re trying to achieve, its that texture you want, that in certain recipes, you want that sort of crispy exterior, but you don’t want it to be dry inside, which can happen especially in an oven. And especially if you follow a lot of recipes, which say you know, pressing the tofu first, which is pressing the water out of the tofu, which is going to make it drier when you cook it, especially if you’re cooking it in the oven or something of that nature. So those are you know, the kinds of things that you want to be a little bit cognizant of and there are tricks to changing the texture, to retaining the water, you know, to create that sort of mouthfeel that you’re after, depending on whatever you’re cooking.

Geoff Allix  15:12

And then when you get things when there’s smoked tofu and seasoned tofu, they’ve basically pre flavored it, essentially, I guess?

Jack McNulty  15:20

Yeah. I mean, you see a lot of that these days. I do a lot of shopping in a health food store, locally here in Switzerland. And I’m just really surprised every time I go there’s another variety that isn’t there each day. What started out to be just a single line, a shelf of tofu is now expanded to maybe six different shelves of different kinds of tofu. So it’s widely expanded. And you go and of course, into an Asian kind of store, and you’re gonna have even more selection, you know,  it just broadens even more there.

Geoff Allix  16:01

I think sometimes, then maybe we are heading down the processed. You know, what’s in the flavoring? My wife got one that was like a chili tofu. But it actually, I just thought it would just have some chilies in but it was really like a sweet chili sauce that comes in liquid broth. And then, rather than that it was basically switching the sauces, a whole long list of ingredients.

Jack McNulty  16:26

It does become important to keep reading those ingredients, especially for those sort of products, the ones that are going to be enhanced, so to speak, you know? So yeah, do pay attention to that for sure.

Geoff Allix  16:42

And I’m hoping this is connected, but you might correct me, Tempeh is that there’s another thing you always see with tofu, so what’s Tempeh and how is that different? Is that another form of tofu?

Jack McNulty  16:54

No, it’s a completely different product.

Geoff Allix  16:58

For another podcast. I’m sorry. (laughter)

Jack McNulty  17:01

Briefly what it is. So tofu is made from soy milk from the whole soybean turned into milk and then coagulated. So tempeh which originates from Indonesia, and you see it a lot in Indonesian cooking, is whole beans. So it’s generally soybeans, but it can be made with other kinds of beans like chickpeas and things. But generally, it’s soy beans and is pressed together and inoculated with a mold and then packaged so it has this sort of white net around the beans, which gives it a very specific flavor. So that kind of mold that they inoculated would be very similar to how they’re making blue cheese, you know, if you’re going to go down that path.

Geoff Allix  17:48

So not a bad thing, then maybe like with whole foods being sort of generally recommended.

Jack McNulty  17:55

It’s using the whole bean, it’s a whole food. And it’s very natural products that are being used as a much different flavor. And generally, it’s going to be pressed. And so you’re going to need to do some things with it. But that you’re right, that would require a little bit further discussion and gets off the topic of tofu a little bit.

Geoff Allix  18:18

And you talked about the variety of things. But also in a store in a big supermarket, you often have it in multiple places. So they’ll have it in speciality aisles, they’ll have it in the refrigerated sections, they’ll have it in non refrigerated sections. And quite often, they’re different brands, and then it’s getting really confusing, but so does it need to be refrigerated?

Jack McNulty  18:46

Not always, it depends on how it’s sort of treated. I think for me, I mean, just in terms of a buying tip, I think it’s important to buy first, if you can, organic, and GMO-free tofu made from GMO-free soybean.

Geoff Allix  19:09

Because soybeans,  that was a big controversy, wasn’t it?

Jack McNulty  19:12

Yeah, I think something in worldwide 80% of soybeans or something are GMO or genetically modified. I think it’s also important to recognise that it’s impossible for me to be sitting here on this podcast and recommending any particular kind of tofu, because there’s just too many worldwide. And so I think it really boils down to where you are, what you have access to. And then experiment, try some different brands, try some different textures and see what sort of works I mean, figure out a couple of easy recipes to experiment with and then see what works for you and what brand kind of works based on where you are and what’s available to you.

Geoff Allix  20:01

Yeah, I’d say that, just from my own experience, what I found is that the Asian brands actually probably have more flavor than the Western brands. Although Western people are complaining, it’s bland, but there does seem to be a flavor to the Asian ones. Whereas I think the Western ones that they rely on you to definitely add flavor.

Jack McNulty  20:23

Yeah, I think, from my perspective, I have access to a Japanese store. And so occasionally, I’ll go in there and buy the Japanese tofu, they take their tofu pretty seriously in Japan. And so I thought, well, maybe in this Japanese store, which was quite good. They’ll take it just as seriously. And it’s really good, excellent quality tofu. And then I find out it’s made in Spain. So it’s not always going to be the case, you know, that it’s necessarily going to be coming directly from an Asian country. It just may be flavor, you know.

Geoff Allix  20:59

You know if it’s the flavor that yeah, that works fine. I mean, if you buy an American beer, it will be brewed locally, almost certainly. And same with if I buy a Czech lager, it’s made in Yorkshire in England.

Jack McNulty  21:20

The same is true with a lot of products. And certainly, if you buy Swiss chocolate in the States, it’s going to be made in the States, not in Switzerland. Sorry to say.

Overcoming MS  21:31

Have you signed up to the new Overcoming MS app? If not, download the Live Well Hub in your app store and join the Overcoming MS community, get support, find connections and feel motivated to live well with MS. Download the Live Well Hub today.

Geoff Allix  21:49

So at least well, if we’re eating chocolate, I don’t eat Swiss chocolate. Sadly. So freezing, so we talk about storing it. So I tend to, the one that I buy tends to be in the refrigerator section. So therefore I put it in the refrigerator at home. So yeah, I’m sure there might be preserved. And the other one, I’m not sure. But freezing it. So firstly, is it safe to freeze? And secondly, I’ve seen on your blogs about freezing tofu so it is safe just to keep it in the freezer. And secondly, what happens when you freeze it?

Jack McNulty  22:23

Yeah, good questions. And this kind of opens up the whole can of worms of one of my favorite topics with tofu and how to manipulate the texture. And so there’s a whole host of different things that you can do. And we can start with this idea that tofu is sort of a blank canvas that just has sort of a semi soft kind of texture to it. So when you freeze it, what’s going to happen is the water molecules inside the tofu, because there’s a good amount of water in tofu, they’re going to freeze and when they freeze, they sort of expand, then you defrost it, take it out of the refrigerator. And those water molecules that have frozen are going to defrost and those seep out of the tofu. Right. And so what’s going to happen is going to create a different texture, they’ll create a sponge like texture from the tofu and make it a little bit more firm. So that obviously is one thing that you can easily do to change the texture. Now how does that work when you’re cooking with it? Well, because it has a little bit more of a sponge like texture inside, it’s going to take on even more flavor. There’s more space inside the tofu to bring flavor into it. And there’s some techniques of doing that. And one way is using salt. And so salt is another method of changing the texture of tofu. And there are many ways to use salt, you can just coat the tofu with salt, which I wouldn’t imagine most people do. Most people and it’s quite popular in the Chinese cooking world to do this, to put the tofu in boiling salted water or in other words, blanching it in salted water for a short period of time, either as a whole block, or also what works is cut up in small cubes. But you don’t even have to actually take the time to put it in the pot. What you can do is just take some boiling water, add some salt to it and pour it over the tofu. And so by salt we’re talking about a decent amount, maybe one to two tablespoons of salt per liter of water. It’s a pretty salty mixture. You pour that over the tofu and let that sit in there for a half hour, and then take it out, let it cool, usually on a towel or something like that and pat the surface moisture dry. And what’s going to happen, you’ll, you’ll immediately see that the boiling water softens the tofu. But when you take it out and it dries, it becomes firmer. But what else is happening there in that salt solution is some osmosis to get a little bit food sciency nerdy. And that’s basically is the salt working its magic and drawing the moisture out of the tofu, and taking some of the salt solution that has less density and putting it back into the tofu. And so you’re basically seasoning the tofu from the inside out. So you’re making it a little bit more firm. And now you’ve added seasoning inside the tofu.

Geoff Allix  25:55

So that’s what happens with aubergine.

Jack McNulty  25:58

With aubergine, basically, you’re using salt to draw out the bitter aspects of the aubergine. And then you pat it dry, so that firms that up also, when you cook it, it’s going to take in less of the fat that’s on the surface area. And so that’s why you would do that with aubergine. With tofu. It’s just fundamentally changing the flavor and the texture. So imagine what would happen if you froze the tofu to change the texture. And then you take it out and you cut it up in cubes after it’s defrosted. And you pour boiling salted water over it for a half hour or so let it dry, so it’s going to be much firmer now. And it’s going to have this spongy sort of interior that’s now got a little bit of a saltiness to it. And in fact, what happens is it becomes very much similar to something like paneer which is exactly how I would make my tofu paneer. And then you cook it in in, you know, a curry sauce or something like that.

Geoff Allix  27:07

Is it going to get to an unhealthy level of salt? So, most of the salt is still in the water presumably?

Jack McNulty  27:10

That’s where you want to just pat off the surface moisture. Yeah, you don’t, you don’t have to worry about taking on too much salt, you can only absorb so much. And it’s certainly not going, in a half hour, it’s not going to be too salty. So it’s just a step further. And think about adding even more flavor to it. And so let’s create a marinade now. And so fundamentally, it’s doing the same thing, especially if you have a little bit of a salt in the marinade or you’re using something like soy sauce. So you’re creating a marinade that the tofu is going to sit in for a minimum of a half hour. Ideally, and I like to put it in overnight. So that’s going to really suck up a lot of flavor and doing something like that. And then of course you pat, you pat it dry afterwards as well. And then there are some ways that you want to cook marinated.

Geoff Allix  27:23

So all that space you made when you froze it, that then gets the marinade gets absorbed into it.

Jack McNulty  28:20

It’s like a sponge, It just soaks it right up.

Geoff Allix  28:23

So you’ve gone from something that’s bland to actually something that’s full of flavor now.

Jack McNulty  28:27

Exactly. And this is why tofu to me just, it’s just really so bloody exciting. Because it’s there’s a lot of things that you can do with it from a cook’s perspective where you can really manipulate it. And it’s far more entertaining than eating a piece of sliced cold tofu in a, you know, in a bowl.

Geoff Allix  28:48

So it occurred to me, I said, aubergine and I couldn’t remember the American, its eggplant for people in the States.

Jack McNulty  28:57

Let me just mention one of the things that’s common in cookbooks and recipes if you’re searching around the internet, or if you’re looking at different tofu recipes and things, one thing that you’ll see often are people saying, start off by pressing the tofu.

Geoff Allix  29:16

You can buy tofu presses, they are quite widely available.

Jack McNulty  29:19

Absolutely. Yeah, you can but pressing and most people just say well, you just, you know, put a sheet pan over it with a weight on it, and let it sit there and you’re forcing out the water. Well, again, you want to be really, really careful with that because you’re forcing out a lot of the moisture from the interior of the tofu. That’s going to make it fundamentally dry at the end, you know, and so I would just be very cautious with recipes that say you know, start off by pressing the tofu. I think it’s much better to take on a different approach, maybe freeze it, maybe pour some boiling salted water over it. You know do things like that or marinating do something like that rather than pressing it.

Geoff Allix  30:06

So pressing it we’re not getting the gaps in the middle of the tofu then and so we’re not absorbing the flavor.

Jack McNulty  30:13

It’s gonna take on much more of a sort of,  a well done leathery piece of meat kind of texture.

Geoff Allix  30:21

So this is completely off topic, but I’m gonna tell you because it happened last week, talking of well done leatheryness. So if you make kombucha, I’m guessing you might have made kombucha as well. So you get the mother at the top. And then I’d heard that you could actually, because they make more every time you have another batch can bring you another one. And you get to sort of get thrown away or give it to people. And so I said, Oh, you can actually dry fry them and they’re delicious. If you dry fry a mother, it’s not. Just to save you and any listeners trying. It’s horrible. This is exactly like leather. I tried it experimentally. It didn’t work, maybe I did it wrong. Anyway.

Jack McNulty  31:12

Geoff, by the way, I’d never heard of that. I’ve made kombucha plenty of times. But I’ve never really had the idea of because it just doesn’t look like it’s going to be anything appetizing.

Geoff Allix  31:22

Because it sort of gives it a bit of color. But no, it didn’t work. There is probably some vegan blogger chuckling away every time he hears someone having tried it. So you mentioned a couple of things, the recipe. So what would be some of your favorite tofu recipes? We’ve also mentioned scrambled tofu on another episode, which is a very straightforward scrambled egg replacement. But other recipes, well, what would you suggest?

Jack McNulty  31:52

Yeah. So in terms of like marinating, one of the things I like to do is I make a sort of a teriyaki kind of flavor. And so it’s very easy to just make up your teriyaki mix, which is essentially going to be some kind of sweetening agent that’s going to go in and I use agave syrup normally, that’s going to go in with soy sauce, and usually a little bit of vinegar. And you mix that together probably with a little bit of water or some, you pop the tofu in. And the way I cook that. So I cut up the tofu in cubes and the way I cook it is in a nonstick pan that’s just totally dry. I just heat it over medium heat, you don’t want to ever heat a nonstick pan on high heat. And then you basically take the tofu out of the marinade, pat it dry just slightly, it’s still a bit moist and put it in the dry pan, you’ll find that it browns rather rapidly. By rapidly I’m saying you might want to turn that after about a minute, and then turn it over and you’ll brown up again. And you just take it out of the pan at that point, then you put all of the marinade into the pan. And once it’s in the pan, then you can turn the heat up just a little bit more. So you’re reducing it down and it becomes almost this, this really sort of glaze and just pop the tofu back into it and toss that around. You got a really nice sort of Asian inspired dish that’s very quick to make that goes well with rice. So that sort of thing. I mentioned paneer, so I like doing that kind of thing with tofu and using sort of Indian flavors and making sort of a curry with tofu and lots of vegetables. I find that exceptionally tasty. I make a really nice sort of salt and pepper kind of tofu which you know, if you’ve ever been to Australia, you know that salt and pepper like calamari is everywhere and salt and pepper tofu, I find is really tasty. So that’s sort of one of the things I like to do. You know, the silken tofu I use a lot in making custards I mentioned that earlier. And so I do use that as sort of an egg replacer in some recipes. And boy, you just really can’t go wrong if you have a sort of a semi soft tofu and mix all the right ingredients together and create that wonderful tofu scramble that’s going to be excellent at any time of day.

Geoff Allix  34:31

And I mentioned before the recording that I’m just back from a holiday in Greece, so my wife was happily eating lots of Greek salads. And I know that you’ve talked about feta cheese, and I think that was a tofu one. So how about Yeah, how can you how can you do it? Is that straightforward to do.

Jack McNulty  34:50

So there? Yeah, well, it is pretty straightforward. There’s two things to do with making like a tofu feta. There’s the long involved way which involves fermenting the tofu, and becomes quite realistic in terms of texture and flavor. But that’s a little bit involved, the much easier way to do it is to do the method of freezing it and then blanching it, and then having it in, in cubes at that point. And then basically allowing that to sit in soya yogurt, with a little bit of citric acid and which you can buy in most grocery stores. And, and just a pinch more salt to season that up and just let that sit in there for two, three days, I’ve let it go as much as a week to 10 days. And it just takes on a really sort of cheesy light, kind of flavor. Not exceptionally cheesy, because feta itself is not so cheesy. But it works really nice in a Greek salad. And that’s that’s how I do that. It’s a really simple process actually.

Geoff Allix  35:59

Okay, that’s very useful for me. Try some things out. No, I because it’s it. Yeah, they were they were happy to do a salad without essentially Greek salad without the feta. But it is just one of those things. Yeah, that’s what makes it a Greek salad, isn’t it? That’s right.

Jack McNulty  36:17

That’s right. Yeah, and if I could just throw out as a quick little self promotion, if those that are interested, I do write a lot about tofu and offer a lot of ways of making tofu that you can find on my my newsletter, which is free to subscribe to called Vegan weekly on Substack. So you’d have to go to Substack and you search for vegan weekly, which is one word, you can go in there and explore getting access to some of the other recipes. And if you write to me, I’m happy to share almost everything. But other than that, if you care to support my work, you can do that as well.

Geoff Allix  36:57

And I would recommend that um, that’s what I was saying. I’d seen about feta cheese, it’s Yeah, you get regular updates and great recipe ideas. Yeah, thanks. So in your, your blog. So yeah, I think we’ve actually I mean, I just to wrap up say that when we talk about favorite recipes, really anything with sauce, we could say, couldn’t we, it’s yeah, it’s pretty much if you’ve got a flavorful sauce. Yeah. And now we’ve got a way that we’re actually making something that will absorb that sauce.

Jack McNulty  37:29

That’s right, it’s wonderful in any Asian style cooking, any kind of Indian style that you want to create anything from North Africa, it works all really well. But actually, there was a favorite way I like to do it that I left off the sort of, I marinate in sort of an olive oil, very little olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, and sort of an olive paste. And I marinate that tofu and not overnight I dry it off and then I grill it on the barbecue until it just has nice stripes on it, once it has the stripes it just releases itself. You turn it over and then once it’s done then I put it back in the marinade for a day and just let it continue to sort of soak up the marinade and makes just the most unbelievable sandwich which we often take on airplane rides or on a long car journey or something like that. And people are always looking at that going aww I wish I had a bite of that.

Geoff Allix  38:35

Okay,  and that is another travel tip take take your own free people.

Jack McNulty  38:44

And I would be remiss though, to not ask, what’s your favorite way of having tofu?

Geoff Allix  38:50

I mean it’s the one I have most often is going to be scrambled tofu because it’s a Sunday morning favorite for me. I just think it’s it’s so straightforward. You know, I’ve got all the ingredients there. I don’t always put the, is it Kala Namak?

Jack McNulty  39:09

Kala namak, the black sort of Indian salt is going to give a sulphur kind of thing. It’s so nice yeah, I run into stages. Sometimes I’m eating it quite often as well. And then sometimes I’ll, I’ll end up going a week or two without having any tofu but I find that it is a major part of what I’m doing in my diet in terms of what I like to eat.

Geoff Allix  39:16

Yeah, I mean that does somewhat smell out the kitchen. So I’m just getting complaints and it’s very selfish but even without that I just think like the turmeric actually gives it a really nice flavor and just just almost turmeric with some salt and pepper and tofu. Yeah. Yeah, no, I just that over every bit of sourdough toast is a great breakfast for me. So that’s pretty much the most common one and then yeah, air frying it really for using it for sort of a stir fry type meal without the stir frying. But ya know, I probably have it two or three times a week perhaps, tofu., it’s so nice. Yeah, Yeah, once you realize it’s really well, it’s not flavorful. It’s just like you said a sponge. It’s yeah, it will take on flavors really well, then it becomes really good.

Jack McNulty  40:27

And it’s really fun to experiment with it.

Geoff Allix  40:31

It is yes. And it’s so versatile, because you were talking about using it for sweet sauces as well. Yes, it you know, it’s that you know, that level of you can use a silken tofu as a custard. And then we’re also talking about it as a as an egg replacement as a meat replacement. You know, so yeah, hugely versatile. That’s right. Yeah. So I encourage everyone to Yeah, to subscribe to Jack’s podcast or sorry, not podcast to your newsletter,

Jack McNulty  41:00

The podcast first and then you can go over. (laughter)

Geoff Allix  41:04
But yeah, try out different tofu recipes, because it is a feast, loads of recipes out there. So thank you very much for joining us again, Jack McNulty.  Great thanks, good to see you, Geoff.

Overcoming MS  41:16

Thank you for listening to this episode of Living Well with MS. Please check out this episode’s show notes at overcoming ms.org/podcast you’ll find useful links and bonus information there. Have questions or ideas to share? Email us at [email protected] We’d love to hear from you. Living well with MS podcast is for private non commercial use and exists to educate and inspire our community of listeners. We do not offer medical advice, for medical advice please contact your doctor or other licensed health care professional.

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