A Tasty, Healthy Tofu Burger

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - April 07, 2010
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It’s such a pleasure to salute Lisa Nakamichi, who founded the Aloha International Piano Festival and Competition. The nonprofit’s mission is to give people living in Hawaii equal and affordable access to music education and competition.

Aloha Piano’s annual weeklong event gives Hawaii’s aspiring young pianists the opportunity to compete in a respected competition that rivals those on the Mainland - at a fraction of the cost - and is a stepping-stone to entering competitions on the international stage.

Pianists and their teachers can experience master classes and workshops with world-renowned concert pianists, whose recommendations are required to apply to many music schools, and without this opportunity local kids simply can’t apply. For parents, it certainly helps that these classes cost only $5 each.


Lastly, Aloha Piano is filling a huge void for music lovers across Oahu - the families, teachers, seniors and fans who have a dwindling number of opportunities to enjoy live, classical music.

Aloha Piano offers a week of free or low-cost concerts for people of all ages, starting with a free concert starring Nakamichi herself.

Hats off to her and all the supporters of the Aloha International Piano Festival and Competition for leveling the playing field for our kids!

To learn more about the event, which takes place in June, visit http://www.alohapianofestival.com.

This week, Nakamichi shares her recipe for Healthy Tofu Hamburger. Great for kids and the whole family!

Tofu was first used in China around 200 B.C. The original process for making tofu is lost, but legend has it that a Chinese cook added nigari to flavor a batch of soybeans and the nigari produced the curd we know as tofu.

Tofu, also known as soybean curd, is a cheese-like food made by curdling fresh, hot soymilk with a coagulant such as nigari or calcium sulfate, which is a naturally occurring mineral.

Acidic foods such as lemon or vinegar also will work to produce the curd, which is pressed into a solid block.

The main types of tofu available in supermarkets are:

Firm: A dense, solid tofu which maintains its shape and can be grilled, or is good used in soups, salads or stir-fry dishes.

Soft: Good for pies, cakes, and soups.

Silken: This tofu is made by a slightly different process which produces a creamy custard-like product. It can be enjoyed with a dash of shoyu and topped with chopped green onions, and is good for pureed dishes.


* 1 block firm tofu
* 1 egg (may use egg substitute)
* 1/2 cup green onion
* 2 dried shiitake mushrooms
* 1/4 cup dried shrimp
* 1 tablespoon soy sauce (may use low sodium)
* 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
* 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Place tofu on a paper towel and drain excess water by placing a dish on top of the tofu for about 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Put dried shiitake mushrooms in water to soften. Squeeze mushrooms to drain excess water. Put dried shrimps in water to soften. Squeeze shrimps to drain excess water. Julienne-cut the green onion.

Place all of the above in a bowl and mix to make tofu batter.

Add salt, soy sauce and cornstarch. Make the tofu batter into patties and sauté in a frying pan until brown.

Cocktail sauce or salsa sauce nicely complement the tofu hamburger.

For a more Asian flair, shoyu and wasabi work beautifully as well!

Makes two servings.

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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