Tofu, also known as bean curd, is a food prepared by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into solid white blocks of varying softness. Legend goes that tofu was first created by a grandson of the first employer of the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD). It became an important food ingredient from the Song dynasty (960–1279).
Tofu contains no cholesterol and is an excellent source of iron and calcium. It is an important source of protein, especially for vegans and vegetarians. Tofu could be a great dish on its own to make a very simple but tasty vegetarian dish, but it could also be part of a variety of dishes and could be cooked with various methods, such as steam, stir-fry, pan-fry, and deep-fry. It could also be made into dessert. Its soft nature makes it a very adaptable ingredient that could be mixed with different sauces and ingredients. Then Cantonese love soft tofu with brown sugar syrup, and some people would put a few slices of ginger when making the syrup. In the past, soft tofu was one of the popular street food that vendors sold on the streets.
Although soft tofu is served as sweet dessert in Canton, it is in fact a salty snack in many other regions in China. A small bowl of sweet tofu will provide peaceful comfort to our stomach after a nice meal.
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Tofu is not only often seen on the menu in Chinese cuisines; it has been used in the cinema as an important prop in fighting scenes. A classic example is the 1994 Hong Kong martial arts action film Wing Chun, produced and directed by Yuen Woo-ping, starring Michelle Yeoh and Donnie Yen. In this amazing fight scene, the plate of soft tofu is kept intact all the time during a dramatic fighting between Michelle Yeoh and a local hooligan.
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