Don't fear the 'fu

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Tofu me once

Hugely versatile, tofu adds texture to soup or dip, stir fry or po-boy. With 11 grams of protein per 100-calorie serving, it’s a vegetarian standard-bearer. Not to mention a tasty addition to any foodie’s repertoire.—Jenée Libby

BBQ Exchange’s “Fu-Q”
Chef Craig Hartman’s ‘cue masterpiece swims in spicy jerk marinade for seven days, then spends three hours smoking on green hickory and is finished with sweet BBQ sauce.

Bluegrass Grill & Bakery’s Tofu Scramble
This amalgamation of seasoned tofu with peppers, onions and garlic pumps up the protein quotient in your breakfast eggs.

Cafe ’88 Dim Sum (top)
Try the crispy fried tofu with spiced salt and basil. It’s like a chicken tender married an herb garden and guests sprinkled a peppery salt at the wedding. No, really.

Ni Hao’s Mapo Tofu
In this sneaky dish, tofu takes on the flavor of its host: pork. Watch for those Szechuan peppers in the Mapo’s fragrant, meaty broth—they’re a killer.

Peter Chang’s Tofu Skin (bottom)
Tofu garlands sliced thin, smothered in a light broth. It’s only when the slices fall apart into ribbons that you realize this is new tofu territory.

Revolutionary Soup’s Senegalese Peanut Tofu Soup
A perennial favorite with riots scheduled should it ever leave the menu. Creamy and nutty with a rich, deep spice penetrating the entire potage. Tofu cubes so small they melt into the background.

Make it tasty

Flavor does not usually top lists of tofu’s many well-known virtues. Nutritious, low in fat, easy on the environment? Yes. Bursting with flavor? Not so much. However, the “meh” factor of naked tofu is more than offset by its capacity for soaking up seasonings and frying up crispier than anything the Colonel can offer.—Meredith Barnes

1 block firm or extra-firm tofu, diced

Marinade
2 tbs. soy sauce
1 tbs. water
1 tsp. sesame oil
1" piece of fresh ginger, minced
or crushed

Coating
1 cup corn starch
1 tsp. Chinese 5-spice powder
Canola oil

In a shallow dish, combine marinade ingredients. Add tofu and marinate 10-20 minutes. Remove from marinade and pat dry. Combine corn starch and 5-spice powder in a shallow dish. Heat about an inch of oil in a skillet until shimmering but not smoking. While oil is heating, toss tofu in coating. Add to hot oil a few pieces at a time, browning on all sides. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.

Soy many uses

The soybean, that miracle crop used for everything from tofu to crayons, is one versatile bean. Its unique composition of 40 percent protein, 35 percent carbohydrate and 20 percent oil not only makes it a complete food on its own, but also an alternative to meat, wheat flour and dairy.

—Soybean oil is a neutral-tasting cooking oil, but is also found in margarine, salad dressings, mayonnaise and many baked goods and processed snacks.
—Soy protein goes into the “mock” meats that come in every shape from burgers to crumbles.
—Soy flour commonly replaces wheat flour in gluten-free products made for the intolerant or allergic.
—Soy easily subs in for dairy, eliminating cholesterol and saturated fat, and allowing the lactose-intolerant to enjoy soy milk, soy cheese, soy butter, soy yogurt and soy ice cream.
—Fermented soybeans give miso, soy sauce and tamari their distinctive flavor.
—Soy even treats us to gluten-free, carb-free, sugar-free vodka!—Megan Headley

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