What is Fu? - A quiet corner in the Japanese cuisine - Waku Waku

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What is Fu? - A quiet corner in the Japanese cuisine

Culture

What is Fu? - A quiet corner in the Japanese cuisine

Which Japanese ingredients do you think that are familiar to local Japanese people but not to foreigners? That is "Fu"! Have you ever heard about "Fu"?

Truc Le

Truc Le

Published on 26 Apr, 12:00

Fu has the Chinese character 麩 (Phu), which means rice husk, barley seed husk. Basically, Fu is wheat flour mixed with gluten and then baked. Gluten is the main protein found in wheat and many grains.

Simply saying, gluten is what you get after removing the starch from the flour. Since the main ingredient is gluten, although it looks a lot like bread, Fu is low in calories and very high in protein.

Fu has been present in Japan for more than 400 years. My friend told me that in the old times, Fu was mainly food for Buddhist monks. Fu is used as an alternative source of protein for meat in vegetarian meals.

Until this day, Fu has become a familiar ingredient to everyone, not only in vegetarian dishes but also in many savory dishes and desserts.

Fu has many different sizes and shapes, but I bet that you have, at least once, seen Fu in dishes, supermarkets, or convenience stores in Japan.

Kuruma-fu has a round shape, almost looks like a car tire
Kuruma-fu has a round shape, almost looks like a car tire
Yaki-fu is dried, very convenient and can be stored for a long time. It also has Temari-fu simulates the shape of the traditional temari toy ball
Yaki-fu is dried, very convenient and can be stored for a long time. It also has Temari-fu simulates the shape of the traditional temari toy ball

Fu can appear in miso soup, sukiyaki hot pot, oden, desserts, and even in housewives' improvised nameless stir-fries.

Can you recognize Kuruma-fu in this bowl of oden?
Can you recognize Kuruma-fu in this bowl of oden?
And in this bowl of soup, can you recognize Temari-fu?
And in this bowl of soup, can you recognize Temari-fu?

Okay, that's it for a short introduction.

Now, if you ask for my opinion about Fu, I will say that...

Fu is my "hero" in the days when I started to become a vegetarian in Japan

If you have read the article "Being vegan in Japan", you know that, in Japan, for a foreigner that cannot read Kanji well (like me), being a vegan is not an easy journey and requires lots of effort.

Simply because it takes me lots of time and effort to learn, look up, and translate each word to see if an ingredient or dish contains animal ingredients. Even though I only go vegan for 7 days a month, it is not a good idea, in the long run, to eat only vegetables and skip all protein.

Then I came to know about Fu. Because it is very rich in protein, just 60-70 grams of Fu, instead of meat, is enough to give me energy for the whole day. Fu really became a "hero" during the days I go vegan.

Only 5 words: delicious - nutritious - easy to make

To me, a huge plus of Fu is that it is extremely easy to cook. Just soak Fu in cold water for about 20-30 minutes for it to soften, squeeze all the water out, then I can freely use Fu instead of meat.

I usually marinate Fu with spices and then fry or stir-fry with vegetables, stir-fry eggs. On those lazy days, I make miso soup or any kind of soup and put Fu in, that's it.

Sautéed Fu and onions with soy sauce, served with mizuna soup and raw vegetables - my favorite lunch
Sautéed Fu and onions with soy sauce, served with mizuna soup and raw vegetables - my favorite lunch
Stewed Fu with carrots, served with mizuna vegetables - the lunch with an impromptu Fu stew
Stewed Fu with carrots, served with mizuna vegetables - the lunch with an impromptu Fu stew
Kuruma-fu and egg
Kuruma-fu and egg
Yaki-fu in miso soup
Yaki-fu in miso soup

Sometimes I will go to lettuceclub.net, search for the keyword 麩 (Fu) to see how to cook new dishes. Soup, hot pot, stir-fry or fried dishes, salad, there are many options, guys.

Lots of recipes with Fu at lettuceclub.net (screenshot)
Lots of recipes with Fu at lettuceclub.net (screenshot)
Fu itself does not have much flavor. Unobtrusive and unpretentious, Fu quietly locks in the deliciousness of the broth or spices that go with it.

For me, the "soul" of oden is not eggs or fish cakes, the "soul" of sukiyaki is not vegetables or meat. It is the soft pieces of Fu soaked in the soup, carrying the full flavor of the dish. What about you, do you have any favorite dishes with Fu, please share with me too.

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Truc Le

Truc Le

I love travelling and eating. I am excited to learn new things and challenge myself to new tasks.

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