The Power of Soy: A Comprehensive Guide to Cooking with Soy

Healthy eating
Plant-based diets
cosse d'edamame

Soy has garnered a significant following worldwide, thanks to its origins in Asia and its robust nutritional profile. This versatile legume offers complete proteins, making it a popular meat substitute for vegetarians. Soy flour, protein, and oil find their way into numerous commercial food products. But, the culinary uses of soy don't just end there. With a little creativity, you can whip up delightful dishes using soy products right at home. Let's dive into some of the ways you can incorporate soy into your cooking.

1. Cooking with Soybeans

Edamame or soybeans can be consumed in a variety of ways:

  • Edamame: Boil green soybeans in their pod for a few minutes. Enjoy them as a snack or add them to your soups and salads.
  • Kinako: Soak dry soybeans for six hours, then roast them in the oven until they turn golden brown. Enjoy them as is with a bit of salt, or grind them into flour for thickening sauces, baking cakes, muffins, and cookies, or adding to your smoothies.

2. Homemade Soy Milk

Here's how you can prepare your own soy milk at home:

Soak soybeans in warm water for 6 hours, then drain. Blend the beans with hot water until almost smooth. Strain the mixture to remove the pulp, then simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Let it cool, then flavour it with vanilla, honey, cinnamon, or nutmeg to taste.

When enriched with vitamins A, D, B12, thiamine, zinc, calcium, and unsweetened, homemade soy milk offers a nutritional profile similar to cow's milk.

3. The Versatile Tofu

When soy milk is drained, it yields tofu – a plant-based cheese that may lack its own flavour but is a great absorbent of the flavours of other foods and condiments. This makes tofu a versatile addition to soups, salads, and stir-fries, and it's perfect for barbecuing or pan-grilling.

Recipe Ideas with Tofu

Here are some tofu-based recipes you can try:

  • Tofu Mayonnaise: Blend tofu with tahini, a little honey, soy sauce, and rice vinegar for a great sauce. Mix it with oil and vinegar to make excellent mayonnaise.
  • Tofu Dip: Blend tofu with soy sauce, tahini, lemon juice, shallots, and sweet pepper to make a tasty dip that pairs well with raw vegetables.
  • Tofu Guacamole: Substitute avocado with tofu in your favourite guacamole recipe.
  • Scrambled Tofu and Eggs: Crumble tofu and cook it in a pan with eggs, stirring occasionally. Add julienne carrots, snow peas, and slices of shiitake mushrooms boiled for two minutes, then season with a little soy sauce.
  • Barbecued Tofu: Preheat the barbecue to high heat. Oil the grill, place tofu on a large plate, oil it, and add salt and pepper. Grill the tofu for 2 minutes on each side, brush with barbecue sauce, and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Remove it to a plate and glaze with more sauce. (Recipe by Ricardo).
  • Tofu Puttanesca Sauce by TeamNutrition: Just replace meat with tofu in this classic Italian dish.

Pro tip: Use firm tofu for stir-fries and grills, medium firm tofu for soups, and silken tofu for cream or pudding-like dishes.

4. Fermented Soy Products – Enhancing Flavour and Nutrition

When fermented, soy products can be used as condiments to enhance your recipes.

  • Miso: When soy is mashed and fermented for several months, it transforms into miso, which can be used to make soups, sauces, or as a condiment.
  • Natto: By fermenting cooked soybeans with a specific bacteria, you get a dish that tastes like blue cheese. Add it to rice, miso soup, tofu, omelettes, or use it as a tempura ingredient.
  • Soy Sauce (Shoyu or Tamari): Whether fermented with or without grain and then brined, soy produces this unique sauce, a staple in Asian cuisine.
  • Tempeh: Cooked soybeans seeded with a specific type of bacteria and fermented for 24 hours yields tempeh. Shape it into patties or balls and add it to soups, sauces, chilis. Cook it on a pan or steam, grill, sauté, or marinate it. Fermented black beans and fermented tofu are also used as condiments.

Try our General Tao Tempeh recipe!

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist