Day 29: Frozen Tofu

September 29, 2008

I’ve tried a good number of meat analogues during this month, from textured vegetable protein to tofu. So far, tofu has proven versatile and easy to use. It absorbs flavours easily, has a decent texture most of the time, and can be used with a wide variety of other ingredients, in all different kinds of food.

Silken TofuAs I’ve mentioned before, tofu comes in many different basic forms, like the silken tofu on the left, which is a soft and jelly-like mass, and then runs to firmer types, according to how much water has been pressed out of it.

It has a long and illustrious history throughout the Far East; in Korea, tofu is held in such high esteem that certain restaurants only sell Sundubu jjigae, a hot and spicy stew made with soft tofu. In China, tofu was once a favourite offering to the spirits of departed ancestors, because it was the only food soft enough for them to eat, supposedly.

As a foodstuff, tofu is also very good for you – it is high in protein, low in fat and studies in Japanese men have shown a positive correlation between tofu consumption and decreased likelihood of cerebral atrophy. In other words, it’s good for your brain.

One of the many ways in which tofu has been prepared for hundreds of years is by freezing it. Varying according to the variety chosen because of the differing amounts of water present, frozen tofu forms large ice crystals which, when defrosted, leave large cavities in the flesh of the tofu. It results in a better flavour, with a more meaty texture. I’d read about this earlier in the month, and I was determined to try it. So I got a block of firm tofu, and left it in the freezer overnight. It duly turned into a soy lolly, and I defrosted it and pressed the water out; this is a necessity with most tofu varieties, especially the firmer ones.

I then cut it into strips and marinated it in soy sauce, and fried it. And it brilliant! The texture was actually really meaty, with a chewiness that ordinarily-prepared tofu lacks. It was the meat substitute that I’d been looking for: totally vegan, and totally tasty. I only wish I’d found it sooner.

One more day to go, and I find myself looking forward to it. I’d like to cook something very special for tomorrow night, but I can’t think just what yet. I’d like it to be a suitable marker for my time doing this, something which will send me out with a bang. I’ll think it over and hopefully something interesting will come to mind.

In the meantime, before I post for the last time as a vegan, I hope that anyone who’s been keeping up with my time here has enjoyed reading.

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Days Five and Six – The Joy of Soy

September 6, 2008

Days 5 and 6 are combined today, for a couple of reasons. The first is that I had no time yesterday. I went to work in the morning, ate Greek for lunch, came home, talked to my wife and left for my grandfather’s place. I got home around 11:30 p.m. and talked to my wife again, and then I ate bagels and after that I went to bed.

That’s kind of a condensed version, but it shows you how little time I had to be all bloggy.

The issue of the experiment didn’t come up, and I was feeling kind of tired, so I wimped out of bringing it up. I also ate some biscuits of dubious provenance, which lead me to the lalalalala-I-can’t-hear-you stage in which I don’t check the ingredients.

Besides, while there is an “official” definition of vegan which explicitly excludes all animal products right down to honey, it’s not a settled issue; there is even controversy amongst some vegans over it. How far do you go with it? Why should honey be excluded from consideration? Are eggs by definition a “cruel” food? And so on. There is even a pro-honey faction, which gives me a certain amount of satisfaction, I must admit, although the anti-honey majority certainly seems to have its ducks seitan duck-meat substitute in a row. The arguments don’t seem to be conclusive either way, which is not exactly a huge shock; there are good reasons why vegans might consume honey without guilt, and arguments against honey which use the term slavery of bees might be doing the anti cause more harm than good.

That aside, I will not knowingly eat animal products during the experiment, honey included. But I will continue to call my wife Honey.
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