Product of the Week: Small Planet Organic Tofu

Years ago a friend informed me that she wasn’t going to eat “food with tread,” and that tofu tasted like jello made out of white paint. Little did she know that there was someone out there making tofu that actually tastes good!

We eat a lot of soy in our household. Soymilk, tofu, tempe, soy “ice cream,” soy yogurt. So when we say that Small Planet Organic Tofu is our favorite brand, you can see that we’ve done our comparison shopping!

Small Planet Tofu is not just organic – it’s local. Well, local but not easy to get to… it’s about 15 miles as the crow flies but more than an hour by ferry, assuming you hit the departures right. Tucked in Puget Sound on Vashon Island, Small Planet Tofu is producer of hand-crafted – fresh every day – tofu.

When I called Small Planet Organics founder, Phil Spiegel, the soft voice speaking to me on the phone said, “Just call me Tofu Phil.” And that is indeed a fitting name because Spiegel is a true tofu artist.

And an artist, craftsman, and businessman with a sense of humor. Who else would name a flavor of tofu “Scarborough” and make it with parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme? He says it is a wonderful flavor for the Christmas holidays.

Tofu came to the US with people from Asia; from Japan, China, Korea, and Viet Nam where it was made in small batches, by hand. Today tofu is mass produced to make it fast and cheap, and it’s been developed to have a long shelf life. As Phil puts it:

I don’t want to say that it’s been totally ruined, but it sure has a sad slant on it. It’s slimy, tasteless, and has an odd texture; if you’ve tried it once or twice, you won’t eat it again.

I make it in the traditional way, pretty much by hand, in small batches. I believe my tofu is the best tasting tofu on the planet!

It’s very much like making cottage cheese from milk. There is a curdling process and we “read” the curds to make sure the process is taking place correctly and that the curds have the texture and consistency we need.

Small Planet Tofu is made in a special way, with an infusion of flavor that comes from adding herbs and spices to the hot soymilk. Herbs and spices need to be mostly savory because the curds keep those flavors; added sugars dissolve and wash out with the whey. Phil has tried to create flavors and products that get people interested in trying tofu again. His fresh, artisan tofu comes in a tantalizing list of flavors:

Sesame
Green Tea
Chipotle-Cilantro
Thai Ginger
Chipotle-Garlic
Garlic-Ginger
Scarborough
Lemongrass
Ginger
Sun-Dried Tomato-Basil
Sun-Dried Tomato-Onion
Hemp-Garlic
Hotter Than Hell (made with habenero peppers)

Has he piqued your interest? If you’re ready to try tofu for the first time – or again – Tofu Phil recommends that you get the freshest tofu possible and make sure it’s organic.

More than 90% of all the soybeans grown in the US are genetically modified. To insure that you are getting soy that has not been “engineered,” buy only organic.

If you don’t know where to start, get on line and Google away to find all kinds of recipes or ask your vegetarian friends; you’ll find plenty of ways to use tofu, tempe, and other soy products. You can order direct from Small Planet Tofu or buy from a long list of retail locations you’ll find on the website. 

Bon appétit!

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2 comments to Product Profile: Small Planet Organic Tofu

  • Teri,

    It appears that “Tofu Phil” moved his operation to Seattle about the time this article was published.

    Unfortunately I have not been able to reach him either.

    Another good food producer that has faded from view.

    Gail N-K
    Co-Publisher, GoodFood World

  • Teri Steiner

    I am looking for Small Planet Tofu online but always get that message that that connection can’t be made. Are they still in business???