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A tofu salad is a dish of tofu mixed with vegetables and ingredients to add flavor. It is served cold, and usually has a dressing of vinegar, oil, and soy sauce. Tofu in salad can come in many forms, including raw, baked, or fried. Some chefs serve tofu salad in a carefully arranged and visually appealing dish, while others serve it in traditional salad form. Since tofu acts as a protein within the salad, it is usually a vegetarian or vegan dish, and is rarely served with any meat included in the dish.
Generally, a tofu salad contains the same salad greens as a typical dinner salad. Common vegetables in a tofu salad vary depending on the type of salad, but generally include greens, cucumbers, and carrots. The vegetables in this type of salad are usually specially prepared in easy-to-eat, bite-size chunks. The tofu and vegetables in tofu salad can be arranged neatly on a plate or shallow bowl or familiarly tossed in a salad bowl.
A popular food consumed in many cultures around the world, tofu is bean curd made from soy. To make tofu, soy milk is curdled and then pressed into a container or shape. The amount of moisture pressed out of the tofu changes the texture of the food.
The curdling process used to make tofu is done by introducing a coagulating agent into boiling soy milk. Coagulants used to curdle soy milk are salt, acid, and enzyme coagulants. When soy is first curdled, it has a texture similar to gel, after which it is pressed into one of the familiar types of tofu. Textures common to tofu include silken tofu, firm tofu, and dry tofu. Usually, the tofu in tofu salad is firm tofu.
Tofu has a light flavor, and it generally takes on the flavor of the other ingredients in a dish. Most tofu salads are flavored with a dressing of vinegar and oil. Oils used in tofu salad are usually sesame oil, canola oil, or a combination of the two. The vinegar in tofu salad is usually rice wine vinegar. This dish can also be sweetened with honey or flavored with the saltiness soy sauce provides.
Soybeans, also called soya beans, are edible legumes that come from Asia. In addition to their use in tofu and soy milk, soy beans can be steamed and eaten whole or fermented into soy sauce or fermented bean paste. Since it soaks up liquids and nearby flavors, tofu is a popular ingredient in soups and stews. Most people encounter tofu as the little white chunks in the miso soup that comes with many meals at Japanese restaurants and sushi restaurants.