Monday, November 7, 2011

Homemade Tofu Vegetable Stir-Fry

I like the taste of tofu. I understand that eating unfermented soy products on a regular basis is bad for your health, but an occasional serving of tofu doesn’t seem to cause me any ill effects.

When we hear stories about healthy Asian populations eating a lot of soy we need to keep in mind that they’ve traditionally eaten fermented soy like tempeh, miso and soy sauce. Fermentation breaks down the toxins and anti-nutrients that are otherwise packed into soy. Anti-nutrients are compounds that block your body from absorbing critical vitamins, minerals and enzymes. In 2003 the state of Illinois began feeding all of its inmates a diet that gets most of its protein from soy. The side effects have been bad enough that the state is currently facing a lawsuit from inmates claiming that being forced to eat so much soy is cruel and unusual punishment.

The process of making tofu breaks down some, but not all, of the toxins and anti-nutrients that occur in soy. You still don’t want to eat tofu on a regular basis, but having an occasional meal with it is generally okay. And since it acts like a sponge for added flavors, it can be very tasty with the right sauces and seasonings.

Frying tofu requires a lot of time and heat, so you need a cooking oil with a high smoke point, otherwise you end up cooking in rancid oil. As ironic as it may seem, the combination of a high smoke point and excellent nutritional profile makes pork lard one of the ideal fats for cooking tofu, although coconut oil would also be a great choice.

For frying, nothing beats pork lard in a cast-iron skillet. 
Once you have your tofu fried, all you need is a wok, whatever vegetables you want and a good finishing sauce for a great meal. I also topped this one with a fair amount of crumbled bacon for good measure.

EDIT: Since this post seems to get a lot of hits I wanted to add some additional warnings about unfermented soy. Since soy primarily attacks the reproductive system it should not be consumed at all by couples attempting pregnancy, pregnant women or women with breast cancer. And infants definitely shouldn't be fed soy-based formulas or soy milk. Unfortunately, our government is using the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program to further subsidize soy formula for low-income parents. Soy formula is the hormone equivalent of three to five birth control pills a day.

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