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. Tofu can be silken, soft, firm, or extra firm. Beyond these broad categories, there are many varieties of tofu. It has a subtle flavor, so it can be used in savory and sweet dishes. It is often seasoned or marinated to suit the dish and its flavors. Due to its spongy texture, it absorbs flavors well.
Nutritionally, tofu is low in calories, while containing a relatively large amount of protein. It is high in iron, and can have a high calcium or magnesium content depending on the coagulants.
Tofu originated in China and has been consumed within China for over 2,000 years. It is also a traditional component of other cuisines such as Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Thailand. In Western cooking, it is sometimes treated as a meat substitute.
It is similar to the production of dairy cheese by coagulating the milk of dairy animals to form curds and pressing and aging the curds to form cheese. Typical tofu making procedures include cleaning, soaking, grinding beans in water, filtering, boiling, coagulating, and pressing.