A few years ago I decided to try my hand at making tofu and then promptly forgot about my resolution until a few days ago. I had stashed all of the ingredients (organic soybeans and nigari) in an airtight jar in the back of my pantry and discovered them as I was doing some reorganization. I pulled everything out and decided to go for it.
To start this off I'd like to say in full disclosure that it is a somewhat lengthy process and this particular recipe doesn't yield a full "brick". In fact, the sum of all my efforts was rather disappointing (you'll see the picture below). However, it's not difficult to do and is kind of satisfying when you're done. So with that in mind, here goes…..
This is a basic soy milk and tofu recipe from Food and Wine magazine (July 2011)
1. To start out, measure 8 oz (about 1 1/3c) of dry soybeans
2. Cover the beans with about 3 inches of cold water, cover and let rest 8 hours (I left mine a little longer)
3. Nigari is the critical ingredient because it's what coagulates the milk. It's not that easy to find in stores so I got mine online at myworldhut.com
4. This is just a before/after shot of the dry vs. soaked beans.
5. Drain the soaked beans and add them to a blender with 3 C filtered water. Puree until as smooth as possible. Then line a sieve with either a cotton cloth (that's what I used…mistake!!! It didn't drain properly and was a pain to wring out) or 3 layers of cheese cloth.
6. Pour the blended liquid through the cloth/strainer and squeeze as much liquid out as possible.
7. These are the solids leftover after squeezing…they smell kind of funny FYI.
8. Bring 3 C filtered water to a boil then add the strained bean mixture. Boil, stirring constantly (and I mean CONSTANTLY to avoid boiling over or scorching) with a heatproof spatula for 8 minutes. Strain the mixture through cheese cloth and a sieve one more time and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes.
10. Add 4 c of the soy milk into a saucepan and carefully heat it to 185 degrees.
11. Pour the milk into the heatproof bowl with the nigari mix and stir gently just to combine. Don't over stir or you may scramble your setting tofu. Cover for 5 minutes until fully set.
12. Now at this point you can either stick with the silken tofu or trudge on for a firm version.
13. I went with the firm option and lined a colander with cheese cloth and gently spooned the tofu into it. I let it drain for about 15 minutes before covering the remaining solids with the cheese cloth. I then rigged up a MacGyveresque tofu pressing contraption. Tart pan + colander + tupperware lid + coconut milk = makeshift press. I popped that all in the refrigerator and left it in there for about an hour and a half.
…And here's the most anticlimactic looking food finale ever. I literally almost fell asleep looking at it. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz…..
It was so boring to look at on the plate that I threw together a quick butternut squash and tofu hash. At least you can smile at the orange color on the plate.
So, if you've made it this far and are still reading on, here are my final thoughts on the finished product. While it had a wonderful texture and taste, I would not make this again, probably ever. I like tofu but the amount of labor involved outweighed the benefits of making my own organic version. In the future, I will definitely be leaving this food item to the professions!