Tofu vs Bean Curd [The Small But Important Difference]


This article will dive into the technical differences between tofu and bean curd. We'll also talk about what to expect at restaurants that list either or on the menu.

Let's get right to it!

Are Tofu and Bean Curd the Same?

Yes and no. Tofu is bean curd, but bean curd isn't exactly tofu. Bean curd is the curdled soy milk that you get when you mix it with a coagulant. Technically speaking, bean curd becomes tofu once it is pressed and formed.

To understand this more clearly, you need to understand how tofu is made...

  • The first step when making tofu is to make soy milk. Soy milk is made by soaking and grinding soybeans and then straining out the pulp.
  • Once the pulp is strained out, the real tofu making process can begin. The soy milk must be curdled using a coagulant. Nigari, or magnesium chloride is what's typically used, but people also have success with things like lemon juice and vinegar.
  • Next, the bean curd must be separated from the liquid using a cheesecloth or other fine mesh device.
  • Finally, the tofu can be pressed and formed into the block that everyone is familiar with. This is when it's officially made it's transition from bean curd to tofu!

Did You Know?

A tofu press is used to drain the water out of a block of tofu so that more flavor can get in. Some are also designed with the dual purpose of pressing the curds themselves to form the tofu block.

Learn more about tofu press options...

Check out the video below to see the process in action.

So What Does Bean Curd Mean on Restaurant Menus?


The only time you may see actual curds at a restaurant is if you order a traditional Asian soup. There's usually still firmer blocks of tofu in there, but some curds are still floating around.

What is Bean Curd Made Of?


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