I probably wouldn’t have connected the words “tofu” and “terrific” twenty or thirty years ago. Before I’d been exposed to the wide array of Asian cuisine, tofu was merely a meat substitute that I considered bland and boring.
Now I know that tofu can be a canvas upon which culinary art is made—though if you’re lucky enough to have a place making fresh tofu in your area, it can be delicious on its own. Even if you don’t have such a store, you can enjoy store-bought tofu simply, as I do, by cutting a little square and topping it with dashi and shio konbu. (Okay, you’ll need a good Japanese store to find shio konbu, or you can ask a Japanese friend to bring some back from Japan.)
But go to a variety of Asian restaurants, as I do in Seattle, and you’ll discover tons of ways to try tofu. Chefs top it with exotic ingredients, drop it in hot pots, and even fry it to put on sandwiches. The texture lends itself well to experimentation, and it is a sponge in absorbing flavors.
For photos and descriptions of dishes from Araya’s Place, Bamboo Garden, Facing East, Hae-Nam Kalbi & Calamari, Henry’s Taiwan, Katsu Burger, Kisaku, Northwest Tofu, Saigon Vietnam Deli, and Szechuan 99 (Bamboo Garden’s ma po tofu is pictured above), check out the Serious Eats story, here.