As nature's most versatile legume, the soybean enjoys hundreds of applications spanning the culinary divide—from soy jerky to soy vodka, soy coffee to soy pudding. Boasting a high nutritional rap sheet, soyfoods are low in carbohydrates, high in protein, and a good source of iron. They contain vitamins B1 and B2 and an essential oil-linoleic acid, one of the Omega-3 fatty acids that are also found in fish and flaxseed.
Moo goes the soybean
Soymilk is a nondairy, iron-rich liquid made by pressing ground, cooked soybeans. It is higher in protein than cow's milk, is cholesterol-free, and low in calcium, fat and sodium. Perfect for customers with a milk allergy, soymilk substitutes are often fortified with calcium and are also popular with the "natural food" crowd.
Soy cheese is a product made from soymilk that comes in full-, low-and nonfat versions and in a variety of types including cheddar, mozzarella and Parmesan.There is also a soy cream cheese, sold in plain and seasoned versions. Most soy cheeses contain casein, a milk protein, and are best enjoyed chilled or at room temperature (many separate when heated). Cheese aficionados find the flavor and texture of soy cheeses inferior to that of conventional cheeses largely because they have a significantly lower fat content than their dairy counterparts, but in the context of nutrition, soy cheese has a taste many find well worth acquiring.
Soy sour cream is a lactose-free product made from soymilk treated with a souring agent. It has a consistency and cooking properties similar to that of its dairy counterpart and may be substituted in equal quantities.
Soy yogurt (or soygurt) is produced in a process similar to that used for dairy yogurt: soymilk is cultured with live (friendly) bacteria. It has a flavor and consistency that simulates that of dairy yogurt, is available plain or fruit flavored, and can be substituted in any way for regular yogurt.
Soybean curd, otherwise known as tofu, is custard like and made from curdled soymilk. The curds are drained and pressed in a fashion similar to cheesemaking. The firmness of the tofu depends on how much whey has been extracted. Tofu has a bland, slightly nutty flavor that gives it the ability to take on the flavor of the food with which it is cooked. Its texture is smooth and creamy, yet it's firm enough to slice. Tofu comes in regular, low-fat and nonfat varieties, and in extra-firm, firm and soft styles.
Soy On and Soy Forth
Soybean oil is extracted from soybeans. It is a light, yellowish oil high in both polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats, and low in saturated fats. It's used extensively in the in manufacturing of margarine and shortening and has long been a popular cooking oil in Asian cuisines. It is inexpensive, healthful and has a high smoke point.
Soy flour is finely ground and made from soybeans. Unlike many flours, it is high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Soy flour is typically mixed with other flours rather than being used alone. However, it can be substituted into a variety of recipes (e.g. baking or binding sauces).
Soy nuts resemble miniature dry roasted peanuts, and are made by roasting the whole, water-soaked dried soybean. With a nut like taste and crunchy texture, soy nuts can be added to salads, served as a snack, or used as a garnish.
Soy sprouts are the crisp, tender sprouts of the soybean. If used raw, food safety handling procedures should be followed carefully.
Soy sauce, an important ingredient in Asian cuisine, is a dark, salty sauce made by fermenting boiled soybeans and roasted wheat or barley. There is a variety of soy sauces available ranging from light to dark. Soy sauce can be used to flavor soups, sauces, marinades, meat, fish and vegetables, as well as for a table condiment.
Fun Fact: Not long after its mass-market introduction to Hong Kong in 1974, soymilk outsold Coca-Cola.
Miso vs.Tempeh: Do you know the difference?
Miso: Otherwise known as bean paste, miso begins with inoculating cooked soybeans and rice or another grain with a special culture. Fermentation that can last as long as three years develops the miso's distinctive taste and texture. It is the key ingredient of classic Japanese miso soup, but miso can also be stirred into hearty bean soups or used as a glaze for vegetables.
Tempeh: The "meatiest" of soy products, tempeh originated in Indonesia and consists of lightly cooked, fermented soybeans and one or more grains bound into cakes by a friendly mold called mycelium. This firm-textured soy food can be marinated and grilled as burgers or kebabs. Or, fry the tempeh before adding to stews or casseroles. Steaming tempeh tones down its sometimes-strong taste.