Tastes like steak, sort of

I have dutifully added tofu to salads on and off for years because of its lauded health benefits. But as a meat substitute it is a truly tasteless joke in my experience.

 Except one. Back when I lived in reasonable proximity to a Whole Foods market, I would occasionally purchase an expensive (to me) packet of tofu that had been marinated and shrunk into tasty, meat-like morsels. I tried to duplicate this by baking the plain version in various marinades but with little success.

I recently purchased a food dehydrator that came with a book telling how to dry everything from apples to zucchini. I did indeed turn bushels of apples from my lone but prolific apple tree into baggies of flavorful snacks (sixteen pounds of fresh apples equals one pound of dried.) 

My next project was going to be turning some very expensive grass-fed beef into jerky. But before I could fiscally manage the purchase, a half container of tofu went bad in my refrigerator. I hate that. As I threw the slimy stuff out, it occurred to me that I could probably dry tofu.

Although the Complete Guide to Food Dehydration, Third Edition, which came with the dehydrator, told how to dry beef, fish, ham, lamb and poultry, there was not a word anywhere, not even in the soybean section, about tofu. Okay, I was able to google it, but still, a book that suggests hamburger jerky but overlooks tofu might be missing a good thing.

Slice the firm to extra-firm tofu into quarter- to half-inch slices and marinate in your favorite meat marinade (I’m partial to honey-teriyaki) for one hour, carefully turning once or twice. Place slices on parchment paper on the dryer shelf and set at the jerky setting or 155 degrees Fahrenheit.  Dry for three to six hours (depending on humidity), turning the trays front to back once or twice, as the rear portion tends to dry faster, and turning over the slices once or twice because the parchment paper slows drying while keeping the juices from dripping. Store in airtight containers (although I prefer storing in baggies in the refrigerator).

It doesn’t turn into beef jerky, but it does become a flavorful, healthy snack or salad garnish. Anyway, not everyone enjoys gnawing on real meat jerky. And you won’t have to worry about spoilage for months.

 Tofu is high in protein, vitamins and minerals, low in calories and sodium and has powerful cholesterol fighters making it heart healthy. Tofu reduces hormone fluctuation in menopausal women and aids in fending off prostate cancer in men. Tofu also helps fight the battle of the bulge and in maintaining a healthy weight.

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