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Tofu Do's and Don'ts

September 26, 1996|MARGARET SHERIDAN

* Tofu may be used straight from the box; no cooking is necessary. Shelf life of an unopened aseptic box is up to 10 months. Tofu can be eaten hot or cold, by itself or in recipes.

* When using tofu in a stir-fry, maintain its shape and texture by adding it at the last minute. Overcooking softens tofu.

* When using tofu in a chilled dessert or a dip, allow the dish to sit at least one hour for the flavor to develop.

* In baking, use tofu--mashed finely--in a one-for-one proportion as a substitute for sour cream.

* Tofu can be used in place of meat in many dishes, such as chili. Or crumble it and bake it dry and add to sloppy joes. (It can't, however, be used as the main ingredient in a vegetarian meatloaf.)

* Using tofu in baked goods results in a product that's less rich. It also separates more easily than eggs, milk, cream and related products. But many bakers prefer regular to "lite"-style tofu. It produces a denser, richer product.

* Freezing tofu gives it a firmer, meatier texture, especially in chili or sloppy joes. To freeze tofu, cut it into 1-inch slabs and wrap in plastic. Freeze 48 hours before thawing for use.

* Fresh tofu is also sold as cakes packed in water; packages must be refrigerated. Water must be changed daily. Be sure to note the sell-by date before buying. Do not purchase if the container seems bloated. Discard any tofu with a strong odor.

* Crumble firm tofu like a dry cheese over tacos, taco salad or burritos and into scrambled eggs.

* Chop or puree tofu, mix with chopped vegetables and use as a filling for an omelet or quiche.

* Chop tofu like hard-boiled eggs and add to tuna salad.

* Marinate tofu cubes, then skewer with vegetables and meat strips for grilled kebabs.

* For a cocktail nibble, drain tofu and marinate in vinaigrette overnight; then cube and spear with a toothpick.

* Combine tofu with fruits, juices and flavor extracts in a blender and create a smoothie drink.

* Mix tofu with fruit puree and vanilla or almond extract for a dessert dip for fresh fruit.

* Puree tofu with fruits and layer it with crushed cookies in parfait glasses or into a toasted graham cracker crust for an easy pie.

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