home > legumes & nuts > soy products

Soy Products

abura-age = aburage = usu-age = usuage = inariage   Notes:  These are thin slices of tofu that have been deep-fat fried.  They can be cut open and filled with rice to make inari sushi, or used as a meat substitute in soups.  Before using, you should blanch the cakes twice, each time with fresh water, then press the moisture out when you drain them.  Abura-age is widely available in Asian markets, either in cans or fresh in cellophane packages.  Substitutes:  deep-fried tofu

aka miso

atsu-age = atsuage = nama-age   Notes:   This is a cake of pressed tofu that has been deep-fat fried, giving it a crisp and meaty exterior and a soft interior.  The Japanese like to cut it into cubes and use it in stir-fries and soups.   Before using, you should blanch and drain it, then prick it with a toothpick so that it will better absorb other flavors.  Atsu-age is widely available in Asian markets.  Substitutes:  abura-age OR deep-fried tofu OR pressed tofu

awase miso    Notes:   This is a fairly mild blend of red and white miso that's often used for vegetable soups.  Substitutes:  equal parts red miso and white miso   

barley miso = mugi miso   Notes:  Made from barley, it's reddish-brown in color and a bit sweeter than other dark misos.  Substitutes:  awase miso OR red miso

bean curd

bean paste  This name is used for both bean sauce and miso.

bean stick = dried bean stick = bamboo yuba = bean curd stick = dried bean curd stick = fu jook pei = Chinese yuba   Notes:   This is made from the skin that forms on the top of heated soy milk.   It's rich in protein, and used by Chinese and Japanese cooks in soups.  Look for it in Asian food stores.


brown rice miso = genmai miso

deep-fried tofu = deep-fat fried tofu = fried bean curd    Notes:   Frying tofu makes it a chewier and tastier.  Both the Japanese and Chinese have their own ready-made versions of deep-fried tofu, and you can find them in cellophane bags and cans in Asian markets.  You can also make deep-fried tofu yourself by frying thin slabs of firm tofu in hot oil.    



extra-firm tofu   Notes:   This isn't as moist as firm tofu, so it holds its shape better and absorb more flavors.   Store tofu in the refrigerator, changing the water daily, and use it within a week.  Freezing it will make it chewier and give it a meatier texture.    Look for cakes of it in plastic tubs in the refrigerated sections of supermarkets and health food stores.   Substitutes:  firm tofu (Before using, wrap it in cheesecloth and put a weight on it to press out some of the liquid) OR pressed tofu OR atsuage


fermented bean curd = fermented bean cake = preserved bean curd = wet bean curd = bean cheese = fu yu = foo yi = foo yu    Notes:   This looks innocent enough, like cubes of tofu immersed in a broth, but it has a very pungent aroma and strong, cheesy flavor.  It comes in two colors.  The white version is often served with rice or used to flavor soups and vegetable dishes, while the red often accompanies meats.  Look for it in jars or crocks in Asian markets.   Store it in the refrigerator after you've opened it, keeping the cubes immersed in liquid or oil to prevent them from drying out and discoloring.  


firm tofu    Notes:   Choose this style of tofu if you want to cut it into cubes for stir-frying or crumble it into salads.  Rinse and drain the tofu before you use it.  Tofu will absorb more flavors and hold its shape better if you press out some of the water before marinating or cooking it.  To do so, place the tofu on several layers of paper towels or cheesecloth, cover it with plastic wrap, and put something heavy on it.  Do this for at least an hour, or put the whole assembly in a pan and set it in the refrigerator overnight.  Store tofu in the refrigerator, changing the water daily, and use it within a week.  Freezing firm tofu will make it chewier and give it a meatier texture.    Look for cakes of it in plastic tubs in the refrigerated sections of supermarkets and health food stores.  Substitutes:  extra-firm tofu OR regular tofu OR pressed tofu OR atsu-age OR paneer OR meat (in stir fries) OR feta cheese (in salads) 

hatcho miso = hat-cho miso = mame miso = mamemiso = dark miso   Pronunciation:  HOT-choh MEE-soh  Notes:   This is a very strong, salty version of miso that's made with soybeans and aged for up to three years.  It's reddish-brown, somewhat chunky, and  often used to flavor hearty soups.  Substitutes:  red miso (made from barley instead of soybeans, not as pungent)  

inaka miso

mellow white miso

miso = soybean paste = bean paste  Pronunciation:   MEE-soh  Notes:    This is a thick paste made from soybeans and grains that has been fermented and then aged for up to three years.   It's a staple in Japan, where it's used to flavor soups, dipping sauces, meats, and dressings.  There are hundreds of varieties of miso, and the Japanese match them to dishes with the same care that Americans match wines to meals.  The darker kinds are saltier and more pungent, the lighter are sweeter and milder.  Always add miso to soups and stews at the end, since boiling it destroys beneficial bacteria and causes it to curdle.  Look for tubs of miso in the refrigerated section of Japanese food markets, health foods stores, or large supermarkets.  It will keep in your  refrigerator for many months.  Powdered miso is also available, as are powdered soup mixes made with miso and dashi.   Substitutes:   soy sauce (one tablespoon miso = one teaspoon soy sauce) OR umeboshi paste

natto = nato = nattou = fermented soy cheese    Notes:    Made with fermented soybeans, natto is pungent, sticky, and highly nutritious.  The Japanese like to serve it on rice or put it in sushi or miso soups.  It's available in Japanese markets or health food stores either frozen, freeze-dried, or fresh in straw bundles.


okara = unohana = kirazu   Pronunciation:   oh-KAH-rah    Notes:   This is the ivory pulp that's left over after the soy milk is squeezed from soybeans.  It's moist and crumbly, full of protein and fiber, and about as flavorful as a wad of paper towels.   Look for it in the produce section of Japanese markets.  Substitutes:  tofu (First reduce the moisture content by draining it in a colander overnight, with a weight pressing down on it.)


pressed tofu = nigari tofu = dow fu kon   Notes:    With much of the moisture pressed out of it, this kind of tofu holds it shape and absorbs marinades better than firm tofu.  It's the best choice for grilling.  Substitutes:  extra-firm tofu (Wrap it in cheesecloth and place weights on it to press some of the moisture out before using.) OR atsu-age


red miso = aka miso = akamiso = sendai miso = inaka miso    Notes:   This versatile, medium-strength miso is the most popular variety in Japan.  It's made from barley or rice, and it's used for hearty soups and stews, or to make rubs and marinades for meat and poultry.   Substitutes:  yellow miso (milder) OR dark miso (use smaller amount) OR bouillon cube (1 tablespoon red miso = 1 vegetable or beef bouillon cube)

regular tofu = medium tofu  Notes:  This is halfway between the custard-like consistency of silken tofu and the denser texture of firm tofu.  It's a good choice if you want to scramble it like eggs, or use it in place of ricotta cheese in a casserole.   Store tofu in the refrigerator, changing the water daily, and use it within a week.  Freezing firm tofu will make it chewier and give it a meatier texture.  Look for cakes of it in plastic tubs in the refrigerated sections of supermarkets and health food stores.      Substitutes:  firm tofu OR soft tofu

sendai miso

shinshu miso

silken tofu = kinu-goshi   Notes:    This Japanese tofu is soft and creamy and it's the preferred tofu for shakes, dips, custards, puddings, and dressings.  It's available either fresh in tubs or in aseptic packages that don't need refrigeration.  When working with silken tofu, it's a good idea to make a dish ahead of time so as to allow the tofu to absorb other flavors.  Don't freeze it.    Substitutes:  soft tofu (This is firmer and sweeter than silken tofu.) OR sour cream (in dressings, dips, or sauces) OR mayonnaise (in dressings, dips, or sauces) OR yogurt (in smoothies)


soft tofu = sui-doufu  Notes:    This is the Chinese version of Japan's silken tofu.  Like silken tofu, it's good for making shakes, dips, custards, puddings, and dressings.   Look for plastic tubs with cakes of tofu in the refrigerated sections of supermarkets and health food stores.   Don't freeze this kind of tofu.  Substitutes:  silken tofu (This has a smoother consistency and isn't as sweet as soft tofu.) OR sour cream (in dressings, dips, or sauces) OR mayonnaise (in dressings, dips, or sauces) OR yogurt (in smoothies)


soy cheese   Notes:   Made from soy milk, soy cheese is a boon to those who eschew dairy products.  There are many varieties, including those which mimic cheddar, Parmesan, mozzarella, jack, and Swiss.  Most brands have a mild, ho-hum flavor and a dry texture.   Except for the low-fat varieties, most of them melt fairly well.  Substitutes:  cheese OR nutritional yeast 

soy mayonnaise = soya mayonnaise = tofu mayonnaise  Notes:   This is made from soy milk, and it's a very convincing substitute for those who wish to avoid egg-based mayonnaise.  Nayonaise is a well-respected brand.   Substitutes:   mayonnaise OR hummus OR tofu sour cream

soy yogurt  Notes:    This is made from soy milk, and it's a good alternative for those who wish to avoid dairy products.    Substitutes:  yogurt OR tofu sour cream

soybean curd

soybean paper = nama nori san   Notes:   These colorful sheets can be used to wrap sushi.  Look for them in Asian markets.

soybean paste

soynuts = soy nuts = roasted soybeans  Notes:   These are roasted soybeans that you eat like peanuts.  They're about the shape of corn kernels, and sometimes coated with flavorings.  Baked soynuts are lower in fat than fried.   To make your own:   Soak dried whole soybeans overnight, then rinse and drain.  Season the beans if you like, then bake them in a 350 oven, stirring occasionally, until they're light brown, about an hour.  Alternatively, fry them in oil until they're light brown, about ten minutes.

soynut butter = soy nut butter   Notes:   This peanut butter substitute is made from roasted soynuts.  It's got a bit less fat than peanut butter, and much less flavor.  Substitutes:  peanut butter 

sweet white miso

tempeh = tempe   Pronunciation:  TEM-pay OR tem-PAY  Notes:    This Indonesian meat substitute is made from soybeans and other grains that have been injected with a mold and allowed to ferment.   It's rich in protein and fiber and has a chewy texture and salty, nutty flavor.   Before using it, steam or simmer it for about twenty minutes.  Then use it just like tofu or  meat--either by marinating it and grilling or by crumbling it into pieces and frying them.   Look for tempeh among the frozen foods in supermarkets or in health food stores.  It will keep in the freezer for a few months, or in the refrigerator for about a week.  Substitutes:   tofu (This isn't as nutritious, chewy, or flavorful as tempeh) OR hamburger OR TVP OR seitan


textured soy protein = texturized soy protein = TSP = textured vegetable protein = texturized vegetable protein = TVP = plant protein = vegetable protein = protein crumbles     Notes:   This is a healthy ground meat substitute made from defatted soy flour.  It comes as dried or frozen flakes, granules, or chunks, and it has a chewy, meaty texture when it's cooked.  The flavor's a bit bland, so it works best in well-seasoned dishes like chili and sloppy joes.  Some brands are beef or chicken-flavored.   Look for it in health food stores.  Substitutes:   tempeh OR firm tofu (Cut it into slabs and then freeze and thaw them to give the tofu a chewier texture.  Alternatively, crumble the tofu into small pieces and bake it until it's dry.) OR seitan OR hamburger

textured vegetable protein


tofu = bean curd = soybean curd = doufu = soya cheese  Notes:  Tofu is cheap, high in protein, low in fat, and very versatile.  You can eat it raw or cooked, but it's bland by itself and tastes best if it's allowed to absorb other flavors.  There are several varieties of raw tofu, each with different moisture contents.   Silken and soft tofu are relatively moist, and best suited for making shakes, dips, and dressings.  Regular tofu has some of the moisture drained away, and it's best for scrambling or using like cheese in casseroles.  Firm, extra-firm, and pressed tofus are even drier, so they absorb other flavors better and hold their shape in stir-fries and on the grill.  Tofu is also available smoked, pickled, flavored, baked, and deep-fat fried.   Substitutes:   tempeh OR seitan OR TVP OR chicken 


tofu sour cream = soy sour cream   Notes:    This made with tofu, and it's lower in fat and more nutritious than ordinary sour cream.   Look for it in health food stores.   Substitutes:  soy yogurt OR soy mayonnaise



white miso = shiro miso = shiromiso = mellow miso = sweet miso = sweet white miso = kyoto shiro miso  Notes:    This pale yellow miso is the sweetest and mildest of them all.   It's used to make light soups, salad dressings, desserts, and marinades for fish.   It's aged only briefly and isn't as salty as other forms of miso.   Substitutes:  yellow miso OR vegetable bouillon cube (1 tablespoon white miso = 1 vegetable bouillon cube) OR red miso (2 tablespoons red miso = 3 tablespoons white miso)   


yellow miso = shinshu miso  Notes:  This golden yellow miso is made of rice and aged briefly.  It's salty but mild and quite versatile.  It's a good choice if you only want to store one tub of miso in your refrigerator.   Substitutes:  white miso OR vegetable bouillon cube (1 tablespoon yellow miso = 1 vegetable bouillon cube) 

yuba = uba = bean curd skins = soy milk skins = bean curd sheets   Notes:   This is the sweet, protein-rich skin that forms on warm soymilk as it cools.  Japanese and Chinese cooks like to add it to soups or use it as wrappers, and when it's deep-fat fried, it makes a fairly realistic "skin" for a mock holiday turkey.  You can buy very thin fresh sheets of it (called nama yuba) in Kyoto, Japan, and thicker round sheets that look like fruit leather in some Chinese markets.   Elsewhere, you'll have to get it dried or frozen.   Dried yuba comes as sheets, rolls, knots, and many other forms.  It needs to be reconstituted with water before you can use it, unless you're planning to add it to a soup.    Substitutes:  bean stick

Copyright 1996-2005  Lori Alden