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The high-protein meat substitute is one of the world’s most versatile ingredients. Here’s how to use it in everything from tasty stir-fries to nutritious smoothies

On 11 January 1770, Benjamin Franklin, then in London, wrote a letter to a friend in Philadelphia, enclosing some soya bean seeds (“Chinese garavances”, referring to garbanzos, or chick-peas) and forwarding a recipe for a type of cheese that could be derived from them, which he called “tau-fu”.

Franklin may never have actually tasted tofu, and certainly didn’t know much about making it, much less cooking with it. To some extent this ignorance persists in the west, where tofu is prized as a high-protein meat substitute, albeit one so bland that it is basically a texture awaiting a flavour. Tofu may be versatile, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we know what to do with it and, unless you’re a vegan, it can be hard to get excited…

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