[Sca-cooks] Anybody need a 300-page scholarly text on the history of fermented bean curd?

David Walddon david at vastrepast.com
Fri Jan 27 17:00:07 PST 2012

Check out - 

The History of Tofu
A Special Report on The History of  Traditional Non-Fermented Soyfoods
A Chapter from the Unpublished  Manuscript, History of Soybeans and Soyfoods: 1100 B.C. to the 1980s
by William Shurtleff and Akiko  Aoyagi
 ©Copyright 2004 Soyfoods Center, Lafayette, California

I am sure it is still available on the web. 

Also the below (which was written a LONG time ago so while I appreciate comments on the generalizations and the writing the audience is newspaper readers, the column length is 1200 words (including the recipes), and it is not intended for a scholarly - or even semi-scholarly audience that said I could try to dig up all the sources I used but will have to get into VERY old files. 

Hope this helps. 

From The Vast Repast, a weekly syndicated (not any more) column on food history and food traditions. 

April is National Soyfood Month. Celebrate with Tofu!
April 6th, 2005
Soyfood month! Who would have thought? April is also Fresh Florida Tomato Month, National Pecan Month, National Soft Pretzel month and Straw hat month! Soyfoods are food products made from soybeans. Tofu is the most popular soyfood in North America, followed closely by soymilk. Tofu is the coagulated protein from soymilk. Traditionally the curds are formed using Nigari, a by-product of sea salt, but other curdling agents can also be used. The curds are then gathered and pressed. Tofu has been described as soybean curd or soy cheese because dairy cheese is made in much the same way.
Tofu has long been an important food in Asian cultures. Originating in China it is called “dou-fu” in the Mandarin language, “tau-fu” in Cantonese and “tau-hu” in Hokkien. All of these loosely translate to “spoiled bean curd”, a possible variation on the word for the Mongolian cheese products the Chinese refer to as “rufu” or spoiled milk. There are several theories as to how Tofu was invented. The most popular, that it was invented by Liu An, a beloved ruler from the 2nd century, is most certainly a legend with little or no basis in fact. It is more probable that when the Mongol Empire introduced their coagulated cheese products into China they were adapted using soymilk.
The modern American word for this soyfood was handed down to us from the Japanese. It is thought that Tofu was brought from China to Japan sometime between the 8th and 10th centuries by the Zen Buddhist community who quickly incorporated it into their strict vegetarian diets. The first written account of the word is in the Japanese document the “Ch’ing I Lu” written by T’ao Ku, in AD 950. At this point in time the Japanese were still referring to the product by the Chinese name. This practice changed over time and in 1182 AD we find the first written record of the modern word Tofu in the diary of a Buddhist priest.
Early Asian recipes for Tofu include it in stews or as a protein extender in traditional dishes. The very first written recipe is from 1200’s. A translation by William Shurtleff tells us to “Pick a lotus flower, remove the center and calyx, then simmer it with tofu. The colors red and white combine to look like mist on a sunny day after snow. Season with red spices if desired”. We also find it was mashed together with yam and other vegetables, then deep-fried in the shape of balls or little patties. During the Samurai period in Japan (1182 AD – 1333 AD) a more simple cuisine started to emerge and we find the first dish of Tofu in a miso broth. Tofu was introduced as part of the food served in the Japanese Tea ceremony in the early 1500’s and has remained an important part of this ritual and an essential part of the mainstream Japanese diet right through the present.
This recipe is based on one from 1437 AD called “Dengaku”. It is a simple preparation that can be prepared outside on your grill, if the grate is narrow, or inside on a grill pan. Try it as an appetizer for your vegetarian friends, on rice as a side dish or use it as a salad topper. The full flavor will surprise you.

Miso Grilled Tofu
3 tablespoons dark miso
3 tablespoons sake
16 oz. extra firm tofu
In a small bowl mix together the miso and sake, until you have a thin paste similar in consistency to western barbeque sauce. Cut the block of tofu in half lengthwise and then into eight or ten rectangular pieces approximately 1/2 inch thick depending on the size of the tofu block. Brush each side of the tofu with the miso sauce and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
Heat your grill or grill pan. It must be VERY hot for this dish. Rub your grill with vegetable oil or spray your pan with vegetable oil. Grill each side of the tofu for 3 or 4 minutes. Serve hot or cold.
This dish is high in protein, a bit different than your regular fare, but recognizable enough that you can serve some Tofu to your family and they will eat it right up. Adjust the hot peppers to your palate and serve it with some steamed white jasmine rice. Make sure that you get all the chopping done ahead of time because this dish comes together quickly.
Spicy Sweet and Sour Shrimp and Tofu
2 to 3 cups vegetable oil
16 oz. extra firm tofu
salt to taste
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
1 medium leek, white part chopped
1/2 a medium onion, chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 cup sake
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
3 medium carrots, cut into 2 inch juliennes
1 - 4 inch piece diakon, cut into 2 inch juliennes
1 small bunch green onions, chopped
In a deep skillet heat the vegetable to 375 degrees. Cut the tofu into small bite size pieces. Deep fry them until they are golden brown. Remove them from the oil and drain on paper towel.  While they are still hot salt to taste. Reserve for later use.
In a large skillet or wok heat the sesame and olive oil to just before smoke. Quickly sauté the garlic, leek and onions, in the hot oil. Add the mushrooms and hot pepper flakes to the pan and continue to sauté until the mushrooms have a bit of color. Add the tomato paste and ketchup and stir thoroughly. Add the sake, soy sauce, shrimp, carrots and diakon. Cook until the shrimp is cooked through, approximately 5 minutes (depending on the size of the shrimp).
Serve hot over rice garnished with green onions. Makes six large servings.
Note: Tofu should be handled as you would any other perishable product. Follow the instructions on the package. Note the fresh date that should appear on all high quality soyfood products. Tofu can be frozen for up to five months. Freezing changes the color and the texture to a light brown and chewy consistency.
For some more Tofu recipes ask for these two books at your local bookstore or library. Delightful Tofu Cooking by Eng Tie Ang ($12.95 ISBN: 0962781010) has 152 recipes from around the world. Eng, whose parents are Chinese, was born in Indonesia, grew up in Brazil and now lives in the Northwest, takes her eclectic background and presents us with multi-cultural recipes all using the wondrous Tofu. From moussaka to stroganoff and spaghetti to the more traditional Asian dishes this book has it all. Try some of her delicious dessert recipes and let me know how you like them. Tofu and Soybean Cooking by Kyoko Honda ($15.00 ISBN: 0870409913) has strictly Asian inspired recipes and some of the ingredients are hard to find in your everyday grocery. But don’t let this stop you! The recipes are delicious (try the Zenmai Rolled in Abura-age or the Fried Atsu-age with Sweet Vinegar) and with a little effort and a good Asian grocery you will be able to master these treasures in no time.
Food is life. May the plenty that graces your table truly be a vast repast.

Tofu: An All American Food?
April 13th, 2005
1,262 words
Last week we explored the history of tofu in Asian cultures. But when did tofu invade the cooking and culture of Western Europe and America and become a food used in recipes other than Asian? Some would say it is still struggling to achieve recognition as anything more than a stir-fry addition.
Tofu was alluded to in the captains log of John Saris in 1613 when he visited Japan and wrote “. . . of cheese they have plenty.” Since Japan is not a dairy culture Captain Saris was describing tofu. The first mention of the word tofu in a European source was in 1665 by Italian Friar Domingo Navarrete. He calls it a “. . . most unusual, common and cheap sort of food all China abounds in and which all men in the Empire eat, from the Emperor to the meanest Chinese . . .”. Unfortunately he misidentifies the correct vegetable source of this product when he goes on to say “It is call’d Teu Fu, that is a paste of Kidney Beans”. Interesting to note Navarrete also describes the early processing methods of Tofu, which have not changed much at all. He says “It is eaten raw, but generally boil’d and dress’d with herbs, fish and other things”.  He concludes “Teu Fu is one of the most remarkable things in China, there are many who will leave pullets for it”. It wasn’t until 1751 that an English source described Tofu. In 1757 the word tofu entered the English language when the travel journals of the Swedish explorer Pehr Osbeck, famous for his trips to Canton China, were translated into English.
Descriptions of this amazing Asian “cheese” continued in Europe throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1896 Professor Henry Trimble is credited with the first American mention when he wrote about Tofu and soyfoods in The American Journal of Pharmacy. Many articles followed that focused primarily on nutritional analysis and other medical or scientific issues. Throughout the first part of the 20th century American Tofu production and recipes were focused toward the Asian communities. The oldest, operating Tofu company, is Quong Hop & Co. (Great Unity & Co.) started in 1906 in San Francisco. Modern interest in Tofu began in 1967 when Dupont Protein Technologies conducted research into the quality of soy products. They started research on soyfoods and heart disease in 1977. When William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi wrote and published “The Book of Tofu” in 1975 English speaking countries quickly standardized around the Japanese word for this product. Previously it was known as many different things: bean cheese, bean cake, bean curd, soy cheese, and soy curd. The French had the same difficulty with terminology and called it by names that ranged from “fromage de daizu” (a combination of the French “cheese” and the Chinese “Tofu”) to “fromage de pois” (pea cheese). In 1978 the trade association, Soyfoods Association of North American (SANA), began with the mission to encourage the use of soyfood. In 1979 Lightlife Foods, owned and operated by self described “vegetarian hippies”, started making tempeh, a fermented soybean product, for sale to the public. Suddenly the modern, non-Asian use of soyfoods exploded. With success of their first product they eventually introduced Tofu Pups, Fakin’ Bacon and Foney Baloney in the mid-80’s. They continue to be an innovator in the soyfood field. Even with these remarkable vegetarian products the majority of soybeans produced in the United States are grown for livestock feed.
How are many American’s eating the most versatile soyfood on the market? Between a sliced-bun in their all-American favorite, the burger. This recipe will spice up your burger making. It is an acquired taste, but give it a try.
MushroomTofu Burgers
16 ounces sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
16 ounces Chinese firm tofu
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 cup hazelnut meal
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup flaxseed meal
5 green onions, chopped
2 beaten eggs
In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat combine the mushrooms and oils. Sauté until the mushrooms are golden. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, Cajun seasoning, cumin and sesame seeds. Continue to sauté until the garlic is soft. Remove from heat and let cool. In a food processor combine tofu, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and the mushroom mixture. Process on high until thoroughly combined. In a large bowl mix the processed tofu and mushrooms with the rest of the ingredients. Let this rest in the fridge for 1/2 an hour. Form into 8 medium patties. Spray a non-stick frying pan with cooking oil and fry the patties over medium high heat for 4 minutes each side. Turn the heat down to medium low and cover the burgers, letting them cook for another 4 minutes.
Serve with your favorite condiments on a nice roll. Don’t forget to leave out the Worcestershire sauce for your vegetarian friends.
Note: If the mixture is not stiff enough to form into patties. These are delicate patties. Turn or move them as little as possible while they cook.
This salad has become classic American and what better way to update a classic than with TOFU! If you would like a totally vegan product leave out the anchovies and Worcestershire sauce. 
Tofu Caesar Salad Dressing
14 oz. soft Tofu
1/2 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
3 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
2 cloves garlic, raw
5 anchovy fillets
Place all the ingredients in the blender. Process until smooth, approximately one minute depending on the strength of your appliance. Makes 2 cups of dressing.
Toss the dressing with crisp hearts of romaine lettuce. Top your salad with grilled chicken or fresh bay shrimp and lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. If you like you can fry up some tofu squares and use them for croutons.
Note: You must use a blender for this not a food processor. The blender will make this dressing creamy and smooth, a food processor will not.
Did you know that a 1/2 cup of tofu has 97 calories, 6grams of fat, 4 grams of Carbohydrates, 10 grams of protein and  20% of your daily calcium. If you have a good source for soybeans you can make your own tofu at home. But that seems a bit much when we have many different types available in most grocery stores.
Are you still a little leery of trying Tofu? The title of Deborah Madison’s book This Can’t Be Tofu! : 75 Recipes to Cook Something You Never Thought You Would - - and Love Every Bite ($15.95 ISBN: 0767904192) will help you get over that feeling. Madison is the author of the extensive Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and the classics The Greens Cookbook and The Savory Way. In this book she explores the traditional use of tofu in recipes such as Spring Rolls with Shredded Cabbage, Mushrooms and Tofu and a curried Tofu stir-fry, but she also takes us out of the tofu case with recipes for a tofu based mayonnaise, tofu scrambles for breakfast and tofu smoothies and shakes.
Food is life. May the plenty that graces your table truly be a vast repast.


Food is life. May the plenty that graces your table truly be a VAST REPAST. 

David Walddon
david at vastrepast.com

On Jan 27, 2012, at 4:47 PM, Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius wrote:

> Which, the source alleges, is from the late 16, early 17th century...
> http://www.soyinfocenter.com/pdf/149/ToFe.pdf
> I got interested after cooking with some of the red variety this evening (we normally cook with the white kind).
> Adamantius
> _______________________________________________
> Sca-cooks mailing list
> Sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org
> http://lists.ansteorra.org/listinfo.cgi/sca-cooks-ansteorra.org

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