For a product that can be found in just about every grocery store in Japan, fu (麩) is almost completely unknown to people outside of Japan.
In its simplest terms, fu is wheat gluten that is formed after wheat dough isrinsed off all the starches. If this sounds familiar to you, it may be because this is similar to the production of seitan.
Fu can be found in a variety of shapes such as chikuwa-fu (fish cake shaped fu), yaki-fu (roasted fu) and small temari-fu (colorful ball shaped fu).
Nutritionally, the largest benefit of fu as a vegetarian replacement is its high protein content. Depending on the style of fu you purchase, you can generally expect 26-28g of protein per 100g serving. Being a wheat gluten product, however, you can expect the carbohydrates to be high as well.
Fu has traditionally been used in the vegan Buddhist cuisine known shojin ryori and other traditional forms of cooking, and enjoyed popularity as part of a health
food boom as a meat replacement.
Cooking with Fu
The most common preparations of Fu are as ingredient in soups. Fu has a very neutral flavor and tends to absorb whatever it is cooked in, so flavorful stocks are a natural pairing. Fu also features a very high liquid absorption ratio, even higher than that of breadcrumbs. As such, when ground up it can be used as a high protein replacement for breadcrumbs in recipes such as burgers, hamburg, or
the breading in fried dishes. When powdered, it can be mixed into other liquids as a binder to help moisture retention as well.
Fu, while perhaps unusual, is a versatile ingredient to keep in your pantry and experiment with while cooking.
Try our locally may Sendai Fu.
About the author:
Michael is originally from Chicago, IL in the United States, but has lived in Japan for seven years in Niigata and Hokkaido. He is an avid home chef, baker, and coffee enthusiast, but his one true love is ramen. Ever in pursuit of the perfect bowl of noodles, you can always find him by listening for the tell-tale slurp of ramen being enjoyed!