Tofu is a delicious soy based protein filled snack and if you are vegan there is a good chance it is on the menu. Even if you aren’t vegan, it is a great source of plant protein to add to your diet and an excellent way to make dinner more exciting. You can make a tasty tofu scramble, blend it into a sauce or add to your favourite curry or stir fry!
If you aren’t familiar with tofu, it can be a bit overwhelming when you want to buy some and realise there are quite a few varieties all with different uses and ways to cook. This is even more true if you want to keep things low FODMAP.
This guide will take you through the varieties of tofu, its uses, brands found in the UK and all importantly is it FODMAP friendly.
Tofu was first made about 2000 years ago in China. It is made of processed soy bean curd. Similar to making cheese, soya milk is curdled, pressed into a block and left to cool. Any liquid is removed and what is left is what we call tofu.
Tofu is full of healthy plant nutrients and makes an excellent addition to most diets. It is a great source of protein and contains all nine essential amino acids. Tofu is also high in calcium, iron and manganese.
You can see from the nutrition info below it is low in fat, particularly saturated fat while still being high in protein.
Nutrition based on Cauldron Vegan Tofu Block:
The Types of Tofu
There are a few different types of tofu, and the difference chiefly lies in the water content of the tofu block.
We can start with silken which has the highest water content, it has not been pressed and is quite smooth and creamy. Then you have regular tofu which can come in a few forms. Soft regular tofu has the most water of this variety and then you move to firm tofu and extra firm. Extra firm has the least amount of water and the highest protein and fat content. The type you buy in the supermarket will depend on your taste preferences and the meal you are cooking.
Silken tofu can be firm or extra firm but is still very creamy and soft. It is used for sauces, desserts, dips and smoothies. Pressing or frying this tofu won’t work. This won’t always be found in the refrigerated section, frequently found in the pantry aisles. It can be stored in the cupboard until opened and then popped in the fridge for a few days.
Mori-Nu Silken Tofu Firm 349g – £1.40 Sainsbury’s
Clear Spring Organic Tofu 300g – £1.75 Sainsbury’s
While tasty and great for desserts, due to the high water content where most of the FODMAPs are found this is listed as high FODMAP even in a 75g serving.
There are a few varieties of this type of tofu to be found in the shops, some will explicitly say extra firm right on the front of the box making it clear. Others not so much. After quite a few years of buying tofu, I assume if it doesn’t directly say very clearly if the tofu is extra firm, firm or regular, it will be regular tofu and so depending on your use may requiring some pressing. This is usually found in the refrigerated section.
Regular tofu – this is best used for scrambles for a tasty brunch, egg salad and to add to miso soup. Probably not the best for deep frying but can be put in the oven to bake or grill. This tofu can be pressed to make it into a firmer variety and seasoned. This will help it crisp up and retain its flavour better.
Firm and extra firm tofu – I’ve put these together as they are very similar and will mostly depend on your personal preference. Also with a bit of patience and pressing firm tofu easily becomes more similar to extra firm. Both are great for frying, baking, grilling. Add to stir fries or curries.
The two main brands I found across the main shops in the UK where
Cauldron Vegan Tofu Block 396g – £1.50 Asda (this is more of a regular/firm tofu but from experience I can tell you with pressing this works amazingly to absorb flavour and add to stir fries)
Tofoo Naked Tofu Organic 280g – £2.00 Sainsbury’s
Other options where scarce and the main source of alternatives was Ocado. They offer (in order of firmness):
Taifun Oragnic Traditional Tofu 200g -£2.29
House Premium Tofu Medium Firm 400g – £2.10
Dragonfly Gluten Free Organic Super Firm Fresh Tofu 300g – £2.29
Due to the fact a lot of the FODMAP containing water has been drained firm tofu is low in FODMAPs up to a 170g serving. This data is from Monash who don’t specify if the slightly softer variety of regular tofu is still low in FODMAPs, they simply say plain tofu, which is still low FODMAP up to 170g . However, if you are concerned, simply pressing the tofu could help to remove some of the FODMAPs.
If you don’t fancy seasoning, pressing or are simply short on time many brands have now started doing it for you, you can find smoked, marinated and ready to eat straight from the packet options.
Tofoo Smoked Tofu Organic 225g – £2.50 Sainsbury’s
Cauldron Vegan Marinated Tofu Pieces 160g – £2.50 Sainsbury’s