Can You Eat Raw Tofu? A Registered Dietitian Weighs In
Tofu is an excellent source of plant-based protein. Here's how (and why) to enjoy it raw.
Tofu is a go-to plant-based option. The alternative protein source provides a foundation for an endless menu of dishes, whether baked, fried, or even scrambled. Plus, it's good for the planet, as it has a lower carbon footprint than meat.
But can you eat tofu raw? The answer is yes—and it may even be your new preparation preference!
Can You Eat Tofu Raw?
Yes, you can eat tofu raw. It poses no risk, as it's never technically raw at all. Tofu is made from blended soybeans that have been boiled in order to remove any toxic lectins found in the raw beans. Once the mixture coagulates, the soy curds are separated, pressed, and soaked. In short, tofu is pre-cooked and safe to eat before it's even packaged.
Plus tofu is good for you. "Tofu is a fantastic high-quality vegetarian protein," says registered dietitian Amy Gorin, MS, RDN of Plant Based with Amy. "It’s a complete protein, which means it provides all the essential amino acids your body needs." Tofu supports heart health, helps control blood sugar, and contains protective antioxidants to offset stress on your body caused by aging and other chronic diseases.
The only downside to eating tofu raw? Right out of the package, it doesn't have much flavor. That means unless you like your soybeans au naturel, you're going to need to use a marinade or add some spices and seasonings to add some flavor.
Also, consider the type of tofu you're using. It's available in multiple different types, including silken, regular, medium, firm, and extra-firm. While silken is a soft tofu that works well in sauces, extra-firm tofu is great for dishes like poke bowls. Your choice will be dictated by your dish—especially if you're going the raw route.
If you're not sure how to get started on your raw tofu journey, here are seven delicious ways to enjoy it.
7 Raw Tofu Recipes to Try
Photo: Drive Me Hungry
Silken tofu is the softest of tofu's textures, and also makes for one of the easiest (and quickest) ways to prepare the ingredient. This Korean take requires only a dressed-up soy sauce and can be served alone or with sides like rice and salad.
Photo: Running on Real Food
The nutritious and colorful bowl swaps tuna for tofu. Press and marinate firm or extra-firm poke in ginger soy sauce or tamari before cutting into cubes and piling high with rice, seasoned veggies, avocado, and sesame seeds.
Photo: Plant-Based Matters
This is a popular and light dish in Japan, best served in the summer to combat the heaviness of the heat. It highlights the texture of silken tofu along with the nuttiness (and health benefits) of fermented soybeans, or natto. Once the tofu is drained, top it with natto, soy sauce, and scallions.
Photo: The Woks of Life
The hardest step in this recipe is the slice. Once your silken tofu has been "prepared," top it with bean paste, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and scallions for a spicy bite. This recipe also features the optional aged eggs, but for a vegan take, simply ditch the addition.
Photo: My Plantiful Cooking
This restaurant-ready favorite is easy to recreate. You’ll need shredded lettuce, cabbage, tomato, cucumber, and sliced silken tofu for your base. Finish with a dressing made from maple syrup, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and soy sauce for a fresh and healthy meal.
Photo: China Sichuan Food
While cold tofu is a staple dish in Japan, this Chinese twist boasts a separate set of flavors. Cubed silken tofu swims in a bowl of Thai peppers, ginger, sesame oil, and (of course) soy sauce.
Photo: Simple Vegan Blog
Cold tofu makes for a winning alternative to feta. Drain, press, and chop the extra-firm tofu into bite-size cubes before marinating it in lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, water, and oregano.
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