Chef Wendell: Tofu

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Tofu is one of the oldest foods in the world. People around the world have eaten tofu / soy for 2000 years. If you’re cutting back on meat and eating bland tofu because it’s healthy but you don’t like its taste, try new ways to flavor and prepare the low-fat source of protein and health-sustaining vitamins.

1st segment: The tofu controversy. American soy vs. Asian, prepare Tofu in Ginger Soy Sauce.

2nd segment: Soy’s health benefits, prepare crispy tofu cubes. Penn State researchers urge moderation and organic, non-GMO brands.

  • Tofu is one of the oldest foods in the world
  • 93% of today’s tofu is GMO University of Illinois Cancer Center.
  • That’s the difference between the US and Asia culture.
  • Penn State researchers urge moderation and organic, non-GMO brands
  • Soy products not labeled organic or non-GMO are almost definitely GMO.


  • Controversial reputation because it contains phytoestrogens that may or may not like the hormone estrogen, which is linked to breast cancer. (Research on its health benefits is far from conclusive.) University of Illinois Cancer Center
  • Soy protein isolate, artificially extracted from the soybean is nothing more than another refined, processed food you should avoid (includes soy baby formulas)


  • Research shows regular tofu eaters get enhanced protection against different kinds of cancer and heart diseases.
  • Tofu contains all 8 essential amino acids. great source of protein.
  • Soy is rich in magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, copper, vitamin B1, calcium and iron.
  • In moderation-3 to 5 servings of minimally processed soy foods per week are perfectly fine. (If you don’t have hypothyroidism.)

Processed soy:

  • Eating 1 soy-laden protein bar is not like eating a block of tofu.
  • Vegan processed soy cheese, ice cream and partially hydrogenated soybean oil.
  • Soy infant formulas: relatively high levels of isoflavones, raising concern about potential long-term effects of soy formulas on the development and immune function of growing children.
  • Thyroid issues: Soy foods can interfere with the body’s absorption of thyroid medication.
  • Think organic, non-GMO tempeh, tofu, miso and edamame.

What you’ll need for crispy tofu for stir fry:

    • 1 (14-ounce) block extra-firm tofu
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1 tsp. each garlic powder and 5-spice powder
    • 3 tbsp. cornstarch, potato starch or rice starch
    • 2 tbsp. avocado or olive oil


  • Paper towels or dish cloths
  • Heavy weight, like a 28-ounce can of tomatoes
  • 10″ to 12″ skillet, stainless steel or cast iron preferred
  • Stiff spatula

Tofu steaks in ginger sauce: 

  • 1 block extra firm tofu, pressed in towel to remove excess water
  • 2 tsp. fresh grated ginger
  • Pinch Thai pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp. avocado or toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. raw honey, maple syrup or brown rice syrup
  • 4 tsp. soy sauce
  • 4 tsp. water
  • salt

Don’t forget to:

  • Slice tofu into 1/4″ thick slices, about 1″ in length.
  • Dry tofu using towels and then sprinkle salt on each side. (salt helps tofu brown)
  • Heat oil in a (preferably non-stick) pan.
  • Pan fry the tofu first on high heat until it browns on both sides. Don’t worry if it fails to brown since this tofu will be covered in sauce later.
  • Bring down the flame and then combine soy sauce, honey / syrup, Thai pepper flakes, ginger, and water into the pan with the tofu.
  • Dial down the flame or the sauce will burn! Let liquid reduce to as little as you’d like it to be.
  • Notes If you want your tofu to be chewier, press it before using it, or use extra firm tofu instead.