Sooner or later you come across a plate of tofu. For some, that event is their first and last encounter. They were disgruntled by its lack of flavor and ended up picking out the goodies around it – perhaps seasoned meat or chopped vegetables.
Those at the other end of the tofu-tasting spectrum were enamored with its ability to take on the spices within the dish while remaining creamy and smooth.
Others have been caught on the tofu fence – knowing its high nutritional value, yet tentative because of the nagging question: What is tofu?
Tofu is soybean curd made by curdling fresh hot soy milk with a coagulant. Personally, that doesn’t get my taste buds drooling. But it is silly to rely on bad press, poor cooking or a bad first impression to make an informed decision. There is now a safe place nearby to give tofu a second chance, or to find a new way to prepare it.
The place is called the Tofu Hut, so you have to believe these people are fond of tofu. Owners Sunny Kim and Soo Kim are pleased to serve numerous recipes with this nutritious and potentially delicious food.
“I wanted to show others a way to be healthy and still eat great foods,” explains Soo.
Sunny Kim, a longtime restaurant owner, opened the Tofu Hut with the idea of selling it. As it turns out, it looks like the restaurant may stay in the family, with daughter Soo Kim handling much of the business. You will find her visiting with diners because she likes to get to know her customers.
The menu is a feast for all types of eaters. “I do my best in making sure I have great tasting options for those who are vegan, vegetarian and also those who have gluten allergies,” said Soo. You can also order beef, pork, chicken, assorted seafoods and mushrooms.
Today’s recipe is for Sweet and Sour Tofu. This recipe is a breeze to prepare, and the necessary ingredients are commonly found in my house. The trick to this recipe, if you want to call it that, is the tofu. First, it is important to use high-quality tofu. It does make a difference. Secondly, the tofu is lightly fried, which can be hard to replicate at home. You could make this without the frying but it is not the same.
During my visit to the Tofu Hut, my son and I shared a plate of the sweet and sour tofu. He was fueling up for a bike ride and I was having an afternoon snack. His additional treat, an individual red velvet cake with tofu frosting, was a second success. I know the recipe today isn’t for the cake, but I need to remark that this moist, chocolate cake was vegan (meaning no animal products were used) and was topped with an amazing frosting. Yes, it was made with tofu and could compete with any cream cheese frosting that I have ever eaten. That is probably dangerous – making highly desirable sweets from tofu – but life must be lived to the fullest.
My spice-loving son is poised for his next visit to eat the fiery wok sauté udon, a Kim family favorite along with the carrot cake (also with tofu frosting). I can taste it already. Bon appetit!
Mary Ellen Psaltis lives locally and eats globally. You can reach her at TheRecipeWriter@hotmail.com.
4804 Pacific Ave. S.E., Lacey