What is Bean Curd


What is bean curd? Bean curd is another name for tofu. It’s a great source of protein, a wonderful vegetarian option, and it comes in many varieties and can be used in several recipes.

Tofu made from soybeans
Tofu made from soybeans

What is Bean Curd – The Ultimate Guide

We’ve compiled a list of helpful details all about it including fast facts, varieties, how to cook with it, nutrition facts, storage suggestions, history, and frequently asked questions.

Fast Facts for Bean Curd

Also known as tofu
Good source of protein
Great vegetarian option
Main varieties: silken, soft, firm, extra-firm, preserved


Following are several varieties that can be used for different purposes.

Silken Tofu

Silken tofu has a soft, creamy texture and can be used in desserts and puddings. It also works well in stews. Sometimes silken tofu can be purchased in different levels of firmness, such as soft silken to firm silken. 

Soft Tofu

Soft tofu is a block tofu. It’s generally sold wetter than other kinds of tofu. As a result, it’s best to place your tofu on a paper towel to remove some of the moisture.  Soft tofu is best when it’s boiled, pureed, battered, and deep fried.

fried bean curd
fried bean curd

Firm Tofu

Firm tofu is the most popular variety of bean curd used in the United States. It’s generally sold in block form and can be thin sliced or cubed and still maintain its silky consistency.

Firm tofu can be stewed, fried, deep fried, stir fried, and added to marinades. When frying the tofu, you can heat the outer skin to a light brown to keep it from drying out.

Extra-Firm Tofu

Extra-firm tofu is the firmest of block bean curd. As a result, it is chewy and meaty, making it a great meat substitute for vegetarian eaters. It’s the most compact block of tofu.

Extra-firm tofu also makes the best crispy tofu. When you’re making crispy tofu, we recommend using a paper towel to remove any excess moisture first, then it can be battered and fried.

Preserved Bean Curd

Preserved bean curd is fermented tofu that’s been cubed and preserved in rice wine. This type can be eaten fresh, and it works well in stir fries.

Dried Bean Curd Sheets

Dried bean curd sheets are also referred to as tofu skins. They’re made from the skin that forms on top of the boiled soy milk.

bean curd varieties
bean curd varieties

What Does It Taste Like?

It’s mostly tasteless. It’s made from soybeans and so it has a very subtle flavor that’s mostly umami.

But when cooked with sauces or other flavors, it will take on any other flavor that’s included in the dish.

Bean Curd Recipes

It can be baked, pan fried, or air fried. We don’t, however, recommend microwaving it because the results are quite soggy. 

It can be used in a variety of dishes such as:

Baked bean curd

Tofu stir fry

Tofu scramble

Tofu grain bowls

Spicy “chicken” sandwich

Bean curd wraps

Vegan lasagna

Bean curd curry


Hot and sour soup

Tofu marinade

Bean curd salad

Where to Buy Bean Curd

It is typically carried in the refrigerated section and can be found in many larger grocery stores. It’s generally found near the vegetarian products.

You’ll want to purchase the kind that’s indicated in your recipe, such as firm, silken, or extra firm. This will help you to achieve the anticipated outcome.

Tofu with soy sauce
Tofu with soy sauce


The storage of bean curd whether it’s fresh or leftover is important.

Unopened bean curd, should be stored in the refrigerator and consumed by the best if used by date, which is usually several weeks.

Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

For tofu that’s been opened, you can change the water every day and it can last up to 5 days.

Can it be frozen? Yes, you can freeze it up to 3 months when it’s stored in an airtight container or zipped freezer bag.

bean curd in glass bowl
bean curd in glass bowl

Is Bean Curd Tofu?

Yes, bean curd and tofu are one in the same. Bean curd is simply the English name for tofu. But you’re likely more prone to hearing the firmer varieties referred to as bean curd.

Origins of Bean Curd

It originated in China and was thought to have come about during the Chinese Han dynasty. According to Chinese legend, its invention has been attributed to Prince Liu An. Its production later spread to Japan.

Bean Curd Nutritional Facts

Following are the nutrition facts for a single, 1 cup serving of firm prepared bean curd with calcium sulfate and magnesium chloride.

Calories 88
Total Fat 5.3g
Saturated Fat 1.1g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 15mg
Total Carbohydrate 2.1g
Dietary Fiber 1.1g
Total Sugars 0.8g
Protein 10.3g

Tofu Pudding
Tofu Pudding

Can You Eat Tofu Raw?

Yes, any variety of tofu or bean curd can be eaten without cooking it. Since it goes through several heating processes when it’s prepared, it’s already ready to eat when you purchase it at the store. 

This is the case whether you’re buying silken, regular, firm, extra-firm, or super-firm varieties.

What Does Bean Curd Taste Like: Takes on Any Flavor

It’s mostly tasteless and can take on any other flavor that’s present in the dish.  For example, if soy sauce is used in a tofu stir fry, then the tofu will take on the flavor of the soy sauce.

Fried Tofu
Fried Tofu

When garlic is used in a bean curd soup recipe, the soup will take on the same garlic flavor. The same is true for any other flavor or dish that has tofu in it.

Bean Curd vs. Tempeh

Is tempeh similar to tofu? Tempeh is made from soy but rather than crushing the bean, the whole bean is used in the fermentation process.

This gives tempeh a chunkier texture and helps it to hold its shape better.

sliced tofu
sliced tofu

Frequently Asked Questions

Following are frequently asked questions that relate to the question, what is bean curd. If you have a question that’s not answered here, feel free to drop it to us in the comments box below and we’ll be happy to answer it.

Is bean curd the same thing as tofu?

Yes, bean curd and tofu are the same thing. The same item is referred to using two different names.

What is bean curd made out of?

It’s mostly tasteless and is made from soybeans. It is made from dried soybeans that are soaked in water, crushed, and boiled. The mixture is then separated into solid and liquid parts. The soft or solid portions are pressed and sold in cut squares in water-filled tubs.

marinating tofu
marinating tofu

What is bean curd in Chinese food?

In Chinese food, it’s generally referred to as tofu. It’s a good source of protein and can be used in a variety of dishes.

Is eating bean curd healthy?

It’s a protein-rich, healthy food that takes on the flavor of any sauce or flavor it’s cooked with.  

Other Ideas:

Are Ramen Noodles Vegan?
Are Tortillas Vegan?
Are Bagels Vegan?

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Sarah is known for her extra fancy yeast breads, melt in your mouth pies, and everything salads. She has won awards as a home cook, and is passionate about helping others feel smarter in the kitchen. Sarah is the cooking genius of the sister duo.

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