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Tofu Q&A

Questions List

Q1. Where does the soybean for tofu come from?

Q2. How many grams are in 1-Cho? Why is tofu counted in gChoh units?

Q3. Does the nutrient composition of tofu change depending on whether it is eaten as-is or cooked?

Q4. How is tofu produced?

Q5. Can other beans be used to make tofu?

Q6. How much tofu is eaten every year?

Q7. How long has tofu been around?

Q8. Do Americans eat tofu?

Q9. Can tofu be made at home?

Q10. Why is the kanji character gFuh (rancid) used when tofu isnft actually rancid?

Q11. Does the water in the tofu package contain any nutrients?



Answers

Q1. Where does the soybean for tofu come from?

Ans. The quality and flavor of tofu depends on the gSoybeanh.@About 500,000 tons of soybeans are used each year to produce tofu. In 2005, the amount of domestically grown tofu used for tofu production was 60,000 tons. The other 440,000 tons were imported; 280,000 tons from the United States, 140,000 tons from Canada and 20,000 tons from China. All imported soybeans are non-GM (genetically modified); grown and shipped under Identity Preserved handling systems.

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Q2. How many grams are in 1-Cho? Why is tofu counted in gChoh units?

Ans. In the past, tofu size varied greatly from region to region. At this time, tofu was most likely not counted in specific units such as 1-Cho, 2-Cho. In the cities, 1-Cho is usually about 300-350g, while in rural areas it is slightly larger at 350-400g. In Okinawa, 1-Cho of tofu is usually 1kg.

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Q3. Does the nutrient composition of tofu change depending on whether it is eaten as-is or cooked?

Ans. Strictly speaking, by the time soy milk is extracted from the soybean, tofu has already been heated once. Although heat from cooking can break down the nutrient composition a little, this is negligible, and variations in composition are more likely to occur between different tofu types.
There are various tofu types such as Cotton (Momen) tofu, Silken (Kinugoshi) tofu and Juuten (Filled) Silken tofu. The appearance and texture of these types is different, and slight variations in nutrient composition do occur due throughout the different production processes. In general, Cotton (Momen) tofu, which has low water content, has the most nutrients. It has slightly higher protein and fat content and is rich in minerals. Silken (Kinugoshi) tofu, which is essentially solidified soy milk, retains the most vitamins.

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Q4. How is tofu produced?

Ans. Soybeans are soaked in water and then milled to make ggoh, a raw soybean soup. This is then boiled and separated into soy milk and gokarah (lees). Cotton (Momen) tofu is produced when this soy milk is coagulated, broken down, pressed, molded, immersed in water, and chilled. Silken (Kinugoshi) tofu is produced when soy milk is coagulated, molded, immersed in water, and chilled.

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Q5. Can other beans be used to make tofu?

Ans. Tofu is made by solidifying the protein contained in the soybean. Of all the beans, soybeans have the highest protein content, no other bean comes close. Although starch is the main constituent of other beans, there is no starch in the soybean. If a bean with the same composition as the soybean could be found, then tofu could be made from that bean. Incidentally, other tofu varieties such as ggomah (sesame) tofu and peanut tofu have been solidified with starch.

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Q6. How much tofu is eaten every year?

Ans. The only statistical data available in relation to tofu consumption is tabulated in the Family Income and Expenditure Survey Report (Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications). In 2004, annual domestic consumption of tofu for one household was 74.5-Cho (1-Cho = 1 retail unit of tofu, sizes vary slightly), equivalent to an annual expenditure of 6,719 yen, and annual expenditure for other types such as abura-age (deep fried tofu) was 3,347 yen. Another 24% from commercial consumption in restaurants and catering, etc, makes up the overall annual consumption of tofu.

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Q7. How long has tofu been around?

Ans. The name that endures as the inventor of tofu is Prince Liu An of Huainan (178-122BC). Prince Liu An was the grandson of the founder of the Han Dynasty, Emperor Liu Bang. He was an outstanding scholar and author of the literary masterpiece gHuainanzih. Consequently the history of tofu is thought to date back two thousand years. However, opinions concerning the origin and history of tofu are widespread, and there are many who dispute the Liu An theory. Whatever the truth, there is no contest that the origin of tofu is no newer than the late Han Dynasty.

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Q8. Do Americans eat tofu?

Ans. Americans Most definitely eat tofu. From a long time ago, the Chinese people have been settling in America and Europe, and it is almost certain that wherever they settled, tofu settled with them. In America, food labels for processed soy foods are now permitted to carry words to the effect, greduces the risk of heart diseaseh. This has helped to drive the dramatic increase in tofu consumption to the point where tofu and tofu products can be found on the shelves of every supermarket. At the same time, there seems to be a tofu boom in progress, which has helped to secure floor space in stores, and all types of tofu are available.

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Q9. Can tofu be made at home?

Ans. Yes, tofu can be made at home, but it would be difficult to achieve the same level of quality that is available in stores, and there is the added difficulty of gathering the equipment and raw materials for the task. You can use soybeans that are already available in stores and the coagulant gNigarih (bittern) (magnesium chloride) has also recently become available. As it will be extremely difficult to create evenly set Silken (Kinugoshi) tofu, we recommend you try your hand at making Cotton (Momen) tofu.

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Q10. Why is the Kanji Character gFuh (rancid)h used when tofu isnft actually rancid?

Ans. China also uses the kanji characters for bean gToh and rancid gFuh to make up the word gTofuh. The Japanese interpretation of the latter character does beg the question as to why it is used. One explanation is the theory that tofu originally came from a region the ancient Chinese called the gXiyuh (Western Regions), a region we know today as Central Asia. It is a fact that Xiyu culture travelled east along the Silk Road, and this culture included foods such as milk and a fermented milk food called gFu-ruh, written using the characters gFuh (rancid) and gRuh (milk). It is thought that since the appearance of tofu was similar to furu, the same gFuh character was used with the character for bean gToh to create gTofuh. Another theory is that the character gFuh was used as it has connotations meaning ggather togetherh and gflabby textureh.

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Q11. Does the water in the tofu package contain any nutrients?

Ans. No, this water has no nutritional value. Since tofu is soft and fragile, the package contains water to act as a cushion. This water can be disregarded upon taking the tofu out of the package. On rare occasions the water inside the package can take on a yellowish hue. This is caused by the elution of soybean pigment into the water and is harmless.

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