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**History and Origin of Tofu**:
Tofu, originating from China during the Han dynasty about 2000 years ago, became popular in East Asia during the Song dynasty.
– Theories of tofu’s origin include its discovery by Han dynasty prince Liu An, accidental discovery, and potential Mongolian influence.
Tofu was introduced to Japan during the Nara period by Zen Buddhist monks and used as a vegetarian substitute for meat and fish.
Tofu was introduced to Southeast Asia by Chinese immigrants and is widely consumed in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, and the Philippines.
Tofu became known in the West through cultural contact with East Asia and the rise of vegetarianism.

**Tofu Production and Coagulants**:
Tofu production involves steps like cleaning, soaking, grinding beans, filtering, boiling, coagulation, and pressing.
– Coagulants like calcium sulfate, chloride-type nigari salts, and lushui are used for different tofu textures.
– Acid coagulants such as Glucono delta-lactone (GDL) are used for fine-textured tofu and silken tofu that does not require pressing.
Soybean protein coagulation involves denaturing proteins in soy milk and neutralizing net charges with cations to form protein aggregates.
Tofu tools like tofu molds and knives are used in the production process.

**Varieties and Types of Tofu**:
– Chinese-style tofu is made using calcium sulfate for a tender texture.
– Japanese tofu uses nigari salts for a smooth and tender texture.
– GDL is used for producing fine-textured, jelly-like tofu that does not require pressing.
– Different coagulants are used based on the desired texture and type of tofu.
Tofu coagulation is influenced by factors like soybean protein variety and cooking temperature.

**Cultural Influence and Consumption**:
Tofu is used as a food offering in China for deceased relatives and is a staple in Buddhist vegetarian diets in East Asia.
Tofu is widely consumed in Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
Tofu is known as ‘tahu’ in Indonesia and ‘tauhu’ in Malaysia and Singapore.
– In the Philippines, tofu is eaten as a breakfast snack called ‘tahô’ or as dry tofu known as ‘tokwa’.
Tofu’s popularity in the West grew in the mid-20th century due to cultural exchanges and increasing interest in vegetarianism.

**Global Spread and Recognition**:
– Benjamin Franklin mentioned tofu in a letter to John Bartram in 1770, referring to it as cheese from China.
– The first tofu company in the United States was established in 1878.
Tofu was not well-known to most Westerners before the 20th century.
Tofu is now widely recognized globally due to cultural interactions between the East and the West and the rising popularity of vegetarianism.
– Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines are major producers of tofu.

Tofu (Wikipedia)

Tofu (Japanese: 豆腐, Hepburn: Tōfu, Korean두부; RRdubu, Chinese: 豆腐; pinyin: dòufu) is a food prepared by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into solid white blocks of varying softness: silken, soft, firm, extra (or super) firm. Tofu is also known as bean curd in English. It is a traditional component of East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines that has also been consumed in China for over 2,000 years. In modern Western cooking, it is most often treated as a meat substitute.

A block of Japanese raw silken tofu
Alternative namesBean curd
Place of originChina
Associated cuisine
Main ingredientsSoy milk

Nutritionally, tofu is low in calories, while containing a relatively large amount of protein. It is high in iron, and can have a high calcium or magnesium content depending on the coagulants (e.g. calcium chloride, calcium sulphate, magnesium sulphate) used in manufacturing.

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