We all know and love Chinese restaurant staples include dim sum, noodles, xiaolongbao, and the ever-favorite fried rice! Traditionally, this type of Asian cuisine endeared itself to Americans because it was the first kind of meal they didn’t have to make themselves! They would phone their orders at Chinese restaurants to make it for them and then deliver it right to their door! You could even say Chinese food pioneered take-out orders, which gave birth to the fast-food movement!
Much like fast-food, Chinese cuisine can be very savory and oily! While it does offer mixed vegetables in its carb-loaded dishes, most of its offerings have oil as a base ingredient, stir-fried in a wok until glistening.
But there is one ingredient in Chinese restaurants that offers positive nutritional value. People often overlook it, which is why we will explore the truth behind it and why it’s good for you.
It All Started with a Bean
The tofu was rumored to have been accidentally created by curious Chinese cooks who were experimenting with soybean. Legend has it, they turned the soybeans into soy milk and coagulated it like one would for making cheese. Except in this case, instead of a block of cheese, what came out was a solid beancurd block or tofu.
It’s interesting to note that tofu is entirely plant-based and packed with protein, making it a favorite of vegetarians and vegans. They prefer getting their protein from soybean instead of dim sum, dumplings, or egg rolls.
Aside from protein, soybeans (and, by extension, tofu) contain all nine amino fatty acids that increase tissue growth, energy production, immune function, and nutrient absorption! This humble bean also provides a variety of macro and micronutrients to the body. Not only do they have nutritional value, but they also increase the body’s absorption of said nutrients!
Phytoestrogen can also be found in tofu, a chemical that could bind to women’s estrogen receptors and reduce their risks of breast cancer!
The average serving size of firm tofu (80 g) contains these values:
- Calories: 117 k/cal
- Fat: 7 g
- Carbohydrates: 2 g
- Fiber: 2 g
- Protein: 14 g
- Sodium 11 mg
Kinds of Tofu
- Silken (the softest)
- Extra Firm
These four kinds of tofu vary in terms of nutritional value. The rule of thumb is the softer the tofu is, the lower the carb content. The firmer the tofu, the higher the carb content. There are fewer calories the more water is in soybean, while the less water, the more caloric content is present.
However, the presence or absence of water does not make one kind of tofu better than the other. While it may contain more calories, remember that those are good calories, especially if they’re packed with micro and macronutrients! If you want to load up on good carbs, fat, and protein to lead a healthy lifestyle, blocks of extra firm tofu are perfect for you!
The way you prefer to eat tofu also impacts its overall nutritional value. The simplest and leanest are frying, steaming, or boiling. Go with the last two if you want fewer calories or deep fry it in virgin olive oil.
Mixing tofu with a pre-made sauce adds flavor but may introduce empty calories into your diet. Prepare according to your preferences.
The next time you order dine-in or take-out from a Chinese restaurant, go for tofu made from the humble soybean. It’s versatile, packed with nutrients, and can replace meat as an excellent source of protein!
If you’re looking for a delicious dim sum in Houston or are craving tofu, egg rolls, or fried rice, book your reservation at Ocean Palace Houston! We’ve been serving heartwarming oriental cuisine in the heart of Chinatown ever since 1999! Visit us on weekends to see our parade of dim sum rolling carts wheeling throughout the dining room for your entertainment and feasting!