Many people have heard of Seitan. It’s a protein made from wheat that has become extremely popular among vegetarians around the world as a meat substitute. But most people outside of Japan have never heard of Fu, even though seitan comes from it. Healthy, delicious, inexpensive and yes, vegetarian friendly, it may be time for Fu to step forward into the worldwide spotlight. So, what is fu exactly? Here is everything you need to know about this traditional Japanese food, including some basic recipes for how to use it.
What is Fu?
Fu is made from the gluten in wheat to form solid tofu like blocks of food that are sometimes mixed with other ingredients for flavor or texture. There are basically two kinds of fu: raw and dried. Outside of Japan, most people will probably encounter dried Fu more often, which is known as yakifu. Yakifu is usually dried on the grill and can be formed into a wide variety of different shapes.
While Fu looks and tastes like dried bread, it actually has a lot of protein. In fact, a 100g serving of Fu has a whopping 28g of protein and almost no fat at all. This makes it an excellent health food for vegans, vegetarians and just about anyone else.
Are There Different Kinds of Fu?
There are actually many different kinds of Fu in Japan, and you may be able to find most of these in Japan grocery stores abroad. Chikuwafu means bamboo rings as it refers to dried fu in that very shape. Kurumafu is Fu in a large donut shape. Mochifu refers to balls of dried Fu while Temarifu are also balls but with added color. The truth is that Fu can be shaped into many different sizes and types. There are surely new types to be invented in the future!
What Can I do with Fu?
Most Japanese cooks use Fu much like they use tofu, as a meat substitute in soups and other dishes that could use more protein. It is popular in macrobiotic and Buddhist cuisines because of this reason and because it is inexpensive and easy to produce. But there are also some specific Japanese cuisine recipes that have evolved around using Fu.
For beginners, check out this easy to do Miso soup with dried Fu recipe that will wow your guests, vegetarians or not. For something a bit more advanced and decadent, check out this crispy chocolate with Fu dessert recipe. The more you play with Fu, the more fun ways you will find to use it!