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What is Silken Tofu?

By O. Parker
Updated Feb 25, 2024
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Silken tofu is a delicate form of tofu that is commonly used as an alternative to dairy in a variety of dishes. Tofu is made from soy bean curds that are first turned into soy milk and than coagulated into the thick tofu substance. Tofu is usually sold in blocks that are packed in water to retain freshness during storage. Silken tofu as well as regular and firm tofu is an Asian food that is becoming increasingly popular throughout the world as a high-protein alternative to meats and dairy products.

In Asia where it originated, tofu is an integral part of many dishes and culinary traditions. It has been a part of Asian food culture for more than 2,000 years and was first created in China. The term tofu is the Japanese name and the most common name found in the West. In China, this food is more commonly called doufu.

Silken tofu is made using a slightly different process then the one used to make firm and regular tofu. It requires a special form of magnesium chloride called nigari that has been extracted from sea water. The nigari combined with fresh soy milk causes the soy milk to coagulate and firm into silken tofu. The magnesium chloride and the fresh soy milk is stirred together on a low heat source to encourage the soy milk to coagulate and form the tofu. Freshly made silken tofu has a delicate, creamy texture and is often eaten raw combined with a light soy sauce and a flavored salt.

Silken tofu is low in fat while being high in protein, making it a popular part of the modern, health-conscious diet. Though it is naturally the lowest in fat of all the tofus, silken tofu can also be found in "light" versions that have an even lower ratio of fat to protein than regular silken tofu. Tofu is also high in B vitamins and iron.

The light, creamy texture of silken tofu can easily be added to dishes and deserts to create dairy-free versions of favorite dishes. It can be used for the filling in a cream pie; to create a creamy texture in lasagna and cheesecakes; or be added to sauces, salad dressings, soups and stews. Though it is sold in blocks like regular tofu, silken tofu tends to fall apart when handled or used in dishes. It is ideal for creamy dishes but less well suited for use in stir fries or other recipes where the tofu is expected to maintain its shape.

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