Soy Products

Soy Products
abura-age
abura-age
These are thin slices of tofu that have been deep-fat fried. They can be cut open and filled with rice to make inari sushi, or used as a meat substitute in soups. Before using, you should blanch the cakes twice, each time with fresh water, then press the moisture out when you drain them. Abura-age is widely available in Asian markets, either in cans or fresh in cellophane packages.
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atsu-age
atsu-age
This is a cake of pressed tofu that has been deep-fat fried, giving it a crisp and meaty exterior and a soft interior. The Japanese like to cut it into cubes and use it in stir-fries and soups. Before using, you should blanch and drain it, then prick it with a toothpick so that it will better absorb other flavors. Atsu-age is widely available in Asian markets.
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awase miso
awase miso
This is a fairly mild blend of red and white miso that's often used for vegetable soups.
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barley miso
barley miso
Made from barley, it's reddish-brown in color and a bit sweeter than other dark misos.
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bean paste
bean paste
This name is used for both bean sauce and miso.
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bean stick
bean stick
This is made from the skin that forms on the top of heated soy milk. It's rich in protein, and used by Chinese and Japanese cooks in soups. Look for it in Asian food stores.
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deep-fried tofu
deep-fried tofu
Frying tofu makes it a chewier and tastier. Both the Japanese and Chinese have their own ready-made versions of deep-fried tofu, and you can find them in cellophane bags and cans in Asian markets. You can also make deep-fried tofu yourself by frying thin slabs of firm tofu in hot oil.
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extra-firm tofu
extra-firm tofu
This isn't as moist as firm tofu, so it holds its shape better and absorb more flavors. Store tofu in the refrigerator, changing the water daily, and use it within a week. Freezing it will make it chewier and give it a meatier texture. Look for cakes of it in plastic tubs in the refrigerated sections of supermarkets and health food stores.
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fermented bean curd
fermented bean curd
This looks innocent enough, like cubes of tofu immersed in a broth, but it has a very pungent aroma and strong, cheesy flavor. It comes in two colors. The white version is often served with rice or used to flavor soups and vegetable dishes, while the red often accompanies meats. Look for it in jars or crocks in Asian markets. Store it in the refrigerator after you've opened it, keeping the cubes immersed in liquid or oil to prevent them from drying out and discoloring.
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firm tofu
firm tofu
Choose this style of tofu if you want to cut it into cubes for stir-frying or crumble it into salads. Rinse and drain the tofu before you use it. Tofu will absorb more flavors and hold its shape better if you press out some of the water before marinating or cooking it. To do so, place the tofu on several layers of paper towels or cheesecloth, cover it with plastic wrap, and put something heavy on it. Do this for at least an hour, or put the whole assembly in a pan and set it in the refrigerator overnight. Store tofu in the refrigerator, changing the water daily, and use it within a week. Freezing firm tofu will make it chewier and give it a meatier texture. Look for cakes of it in plastic tubs in the refrigerated sections of supermarkets and health food stores.
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hatcho miso
hatcho miso
This is a very strong, salty version of miso that's made with soybeans and aged for up to three years. It's reddish-brown, somewhat chunky, and often used to flavor hearty soups.
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miso
miso
This is a thick paste made from soybeans and grains that has been fermented and then aged for up to three years. It's a staple in Japan, where it's used to flavor soups, dipping sauces, meats, and dressings. There are hundreds of varieties of miso, and the Japanese match them to dishes with the same care that Americans match wines to meals. The darker kinds are saltier and more pungent, the lighter are sweeter and milder. Always add miso to soups and stews at the end, since boiling it destroys beneficial bacteria and causes it to curdle. Look for tubs of miso in the refrigerated section of Japanese food markets, health foods stores, or large supermarkets. It will keep in your refrigerator for many months. Powdered miso is also available, as are powdered soup mixes made with miso and dashi.
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natto
natto
Made with fermented soybeans, natto is pungent, sticky, and highly nutritious. The Japanese like to serve it on rice or put it in sushi or miso soups. It's available in Japanese markets or health food stores either frozen, freeze-dried, or fresh in straw bundles.
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okara
okara
This is the ivory pulp that's left over after the soy milk is squeezed from soybeans. It's moist and crumbly, full of protein and fiber, and about as flavorful as a wad of paper towels. Look for it in the produce section of Japanese markets.
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pressed tofu
pressed tofu
With much of the moisture pressed out of it, this kind of tofu holds it shape and absorbs marinades better than firm tofu. It's the best choice for grilling.
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red miso
red miso
This versatile, medium-strength miso is the most popular variety in Japan. It's made from barley or rice, and it's used for hearty soups and stews, or to make rubs and marinades for meat and poultry.
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regular tofu
regular tofu
This is halfway between the custard-like consistency of silken tofu and the denser texture of firm tofu. It's a good choice if you want to scramble it like eggs, or use it in place of ricotta cheese in a casserole. Store tofu in the refrigerator, changing the water daily, and use it within a week. Freezing firm tofu will make it chewier and give it a meatier texture. Look for cakes of it in plastic tubs in the refrigerated sections of supermarkets and health food stores.
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silken tofu
silken tofu
This Japanese tofu is soft and creamy and it's the preferred tofu for shakes, dips, custards, puddings, and dressings. It's available either fresh in tubs or in aseptic packages that don't need refrigeration. When working with silken tofu, it's a good idea to make a dish ahead of time so as to allow the tofu to absorb other flavors. Don't freeze it.
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soft tofu
soft tofu
This is the Chinese version of Japan's silken tofu. Like silken tofu, it's good for making shakes, dips, custards, puddings, and dressings. Look for plastic tubs with cakes of tofu in the refrigerated sections of supermarkets and health food stores. Don't freeze this kind of tofu.
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soy cheese
soy cheese
Made from soy milk, soy cheese is a boon to those who eschew dairy products. There are many varieties, including those which mimic cheddar, Parmesan, mozzarella, jack, and Swiss. Most brands have a mild, ho-hum flavor and a dry texture. Except for the low-fat varieties, most of them melt fairly well.
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soy mayonnaise
soy mayonnaise
This is made from soy milk, and it's a very convincing substitute for those who wish to avoid egg-based mayonnaise. Nayonaise is a well-respected brand.
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soy yogurt
soy yogurt
This is made from soy milk, and it's a good alternative for those who wish to avoid dairy products.
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soybean paper
These colorful sheets can be used to wrap sushi. Look for them in Asian markets.
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soynut butter
soynut butter
This peanut butter substitute is made from roasted soynuts. It's got a bit less fat than peanut butter, and much less flavor.
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soynuts
soynuts
These are roasted soybeans that you eat like peanuts. They're about the shape of corn kernels, and sometimes coated with flavorings. Baked soynuts are lower in fat than fried.
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tempeh
tempeh
This Indonesian meat substitute is made from soybeans and other grains that have been injected with a mold and allowed to ferment. It's rich in protein and fiber and has a chewy texture and salty, nutty flavor. Before using it, steam or simmer it for about twenty minutes. Then use it just like tofu or meat--either by marinating it and grilling or by crumbling it into pieces and frying them. Look for tempeh among the frozen foods in supermarkets or in health food stores. It will keep in the freezer for a few months, or in the refrigerator for about a week.
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textured soy protein
textured soy protein
This is a healthy ground meat substitute made from defatted soy flour. It comes as dried or frozen flakes, granules, or chunks, and it has a chewy, meaty texture when it's cooked. The flavor's a bit bland, so it works best in well-seasoned dishes like chili and sloppy joes. Some brands are beef or chicken-flavored. Look for it in health food stores.
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tofu
tofu
Tofu is cheap, high in protein, low in fat, and very versatile. You can eat it raw or cooked, but it's bland by itself and tastes best if it's allowed to absorb other flavors. There are several varieties of raw tofu, each with different moisture contents. Silken and soft tofu are relatively moist, and best suited for making shakes, dips, and dressings. Regular tofu has some of the moisture drained away, and it's best for scrambling or using like cheese in casseroles. Firm, extra-firm, and pressed tofus are even drier, so they absorb other flavors better and hold their shape in stir-fries and on the grill. Tofu is also available smoked, pickled, flavored, baked, and deep-fat fried.
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tofu sour cream
This made with tofu, and it's lower in fat and more nutritious than ordinary sour cream. Look for it in health food stores.
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tofurky
tofurky
A tofu and seitan substitute.
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UnTurkey
A seitan-based turkey.
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white miso
white miso
This pale yellow miso is the sweetest and mildest of them all. It's used to make light soups, salad dressings, desserts, and marinades for fish. It's aged only briefly and isn't as salty as other forms of miso.
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yellow miso
yellow miso
This golden yellow miso is made of rice and aged briefly. It's salty but mild and quite versatile. It's a good choice if you only want to store one tub of miso in your refrigerator.
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yuba
yuba
This is the sweet, protein-rich skin that forms on warm soymilk as it cools. Japanese and Chinese cooks like to add it to soups or use it as wrappers, and when it's deep-fat fried, it makes a fairly realistic "skin" for a mock holiday turkey. You can buy very thin fresh sheets of it (called nama yuba) in Kyoto, Japan, and thicker round sheets that look like fruit leather in some Chinese markets. Elsewhere, you'll have to get it dried or frozen. Dried yuba comes as sheets, rolls, knots, and many other forms. It needs to be reconstituted with water before you can use it, unless you're planning to add it to a soup.
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