Soybeans are an excellent source of lowfat protein, and fit into many meals. Tofu, tempeh, and soybean paste all have different uses and properties to them.
Soybeans are an excellent source of protein and can be processed and served in a number of ways. Soybeans can be found in many levels of processing from bean form or to a paste, or even fermented. Tofu products are easy to prepare and cook with, and can be served cold or cooked.
Tofu is a processed soybean curd that comes in different styles and textures. Tofu can be incorporated into meatless entree dishes or pureed for desserts. This style of soybean is one of the most recognized, and is widely available in most supermarkets. Firm and extra firm tofu are great candidates for slicing for grilling or pan-frying. This firmer style of tofu holds marinades well. Silken tofu is used when a creamy puree is needed, such as for sauces, dressing and desserts.
Tofu nutrition depends on the style, and the different coagulants used in tofu can affect the overall nutritional value as well. An average 3 oz. serving portion of extra firm tofu provides about 45 calories, 15 of which come from fat, with 6 grams of protein and no cholesterol.
Tempeh differs from tofu greatly in taste and texture. It comes in a rectangular shape with a brownish color. Instead of having a neutral flavor like tofu has, it has a deeper flavor and aroma. Tempeh is actually fermented soybeans that are made into a dry cake form and can be crumbled up or sauteed by itself or used in recipes. It requires less processing than tofu, which ultimately keeps in more fiber. Tempeh is found in the refrigerated section of supermarkets.
Tempeh nutrition is higher than tofu due to the manufacturing and handling process. But, the nutrition varies with tempeh since it can be found processed with other grains such as brown rice and barley. Read the labels and check to see if it is all soy or a mixture of ingredients. Mixing the soy with other grains will enhance flavor and provide slightly different textures to the tempeh.
Miso Soybean Paste (Hatcho Miso)
Miso soybean paste is found in different styles depending on what the soybeans were processed with. Different grains are used in the fermenting process for a little color and for flavor. Aging comes in to play here and the miso texture, flavor, and color is also affected greatly by the amount of aging that was done.
Miso is found in both dried and in a paste form. Miso comes by a variety of names, but if soybean-only miso is what is desired then look for ‘hatcho miso’ which contains only soybeans. If it doesn’t say hatcho miso, other ingredients were added to the miso and fermented with, such as barley or brown rice.
Miso soybean paste nutrition is unique in that it provides the all-important B12 vitamin. Sometimes miso or miso products may be processed with fish, and some miso types are very high in sodium. Soybean paste made with only soybeans contain more dietary fiber and protein than those misos made with other ingredients.