Thursday, January 14, 2010

Breakfast for Bud - Tofu Scramble

One of my dearest friends in the wide world is trying to change his diet and improve his health. Having never eaten tofu, he asked me what I thought of tofu, how I liked to eat it, and for a suggestion on how to cook it. Tofu, if you think about it, is a pretty alien looking substance the first time you encounter it. It doesn't really look like food immediately upon introduction. It looks kind of like something I'd scrub my counter with, really, and that's a good way to think of tofu. Not as a cleaner, of course...but as a sponge.

Tofu is a lightly processed form of soybeans, and we refer to it as "bean curd." It's been around for - literally - millennia. We know that it's been in regular use, in pretty much the same form we use it in today, for more than 2,000 years. I'd say it's a time-tested food. We can eat it with confidence. Ha ha!

An excellent protein source, tofu is a calorie-dense and "good fat"-rich food. It is filling and good for you. How many things can you say that about? I love tofu, and I cook it a number of ways. For my friend who will soon be eating tofu for the first time, I would like to introduce it by offering my very favorite way to eat it. This recipe is also just an excellent way to meet tofu because there isn't anything else IN the recipe. It's just nothin' but tofu, Baby. So here's my favorite breakfast: The Tofu Scramble.

Basically, the idea with a tofu scramble is to replicate the textural, aesthetic, and nutritional qualities of scrambled eggs. It really does this remarkably well, and making it is very similar in practice to scrambling know without the slimy stuff and the cholesterol and the forced molting/beak cutting/menstrual cycle product issues we deal with when eating chicken eggs.

So...I have photographed the process on this, and you can click on any of the photographs to see a larger and more detailed view. When choosing tofu for this recipe, get the water-packed tofu (it will look like the package you see in my picture above), NOT the shelf-stable tofu from boxes. It will be in the refrigerated section. Keep in mind that even though I'm making this a long and detailed post, tofu scrambles can be prepared and on your plate, ready to eat, in about 5 minutes. You will also need vegan butter, onion powder, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Spice measurements are all to taste. Just sprinkle in the amounts you want of each spice.

For this recipe, you will need to buy extra-firm or firm tofu. I prefer extra-firm, and all this refers to is the structural integrity of the tofu itself. Silken or soft tofu, for example, has a creamy texture like sour cream or pudding. Extra-firm tofu can be sliced into cubes and stir-fried. See what I mean? Anyway, when you open your package of tofu, do it over the sink so that you don't get water from the packaging all over the place. Now, tofu takes on the flavors of whatever is around it, so you want to get the "flavor" of the plastic packaging off of it. We do this by just rinsing it quickly under the tap. Once you've done this, cut off about a third of the block. This is the portion we're going to cook, and you need to remove the excess water from it. Tofu is like a sponge, remember, so take two hands and start to squeeze. For our purposes, it doesn't matter if you end up tearing the block apart a bit in this process. You will be surprised at how much water comes out. Don't get obsessive about it, just a couple gentle squeezes to get the bulk of water out. Next, you need to crumble the tofu into scrambled egg-looking pieces (see pictures above).

In a small skillet, warm about 2T of vegan butter over medium heat. Throw in your crumbled tofu, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Next, you want to add your turmeric. About 1/4tsp will do it, but you can add more if you like a stronger flavor. At first, it will look orange, like the photo above left. As you stir it, it will distribute through the tofu and turn everything yellow. Once the turmeric is evenly-distributed, bright yellow, and all the tofu is warmed completely through, you're ready to serve. That's it! I eat this about 2 mornings per week with a piece of toast. It's fantastic.


  1. Yay! A post with my name on it! I AM SOMEBODY! lol The finished product looks very close to real scrambled eggs. While I am not looking forward to diving into the world of tofu, this may make it easier. I also saw a recipe today for a grilled tofu sandwich that looked somewhat appetizing. Who knows? I may like it.

  2. Whenever I eat tofu on a sandwich, I will roll it in cornmeal, salt, and pepper (I treat it like catfish, basically) and semi deep-fry it in canola oil until the crust is crispy. This makes excellent sandwich slices. You can also take a sandwich slice of tofu and pan/stir-fry it in oil or butter with salt and pepper and a dash of turmeric...voila, fried egg. People soak it in barbecue marinades and grill it, too. I've never done that, but I'm sure it's good.