While it is known as a staple in Japan, tofu is mostly considered a health food in the West. Boasting high protein but few calories and little fat content, tofu makes for a versatile and nutritious addition to practically any dish. A component of many East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisine, tofu (also referred to as bean curd) is made from coagulating soy milk and pressing the resulting curds into soft white bricks. Read on to find out how to make your own tofu from the comfort of your home!
1 1/3 cups dried soybeans
Coagulant (several options here):
- 2 tsp nigari
- 2 1/4 tsp. granular or powdered nigari
- 2 tsp. Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate)
- 4 tbsp. lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
- 3 tbsp. apple cidar vinegar
Traditional tofu is made with nigari (which is a concentrated solution of various salts remaining after the crystallization of salt from seawater), but it can be made with any of the aforementioned ingredients. The coagulant you choose for your tofu will slightly affect the taste and firmness of the final result, but it will still be yummy tofu! Let’s get to the actual process! Before you get to making the actual tofu, you’ll need some soymilk. This can be a time-consuming process, but follow it closely and you will love the result!
- Soak the soybeans in 4 1/2 cups of water for at least 8 hours. If the water is cold, you’ll have to soak them a little bit longer. If you live in a colder climate, try soaking them overnight or up to 24 hours.
- Grind the soybeans in batches with their soaking water in a food processor/blender until the beans are finely ground.
- In a large pot, bring 5 cups of water to a boil and then add the ground soybeans.
- Over medium heat, bring the mixture almost to a boil, stirring continuously to prevent it sticking to the bottom. Right before it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cook the beans for about 8 more minutes, stirring. It will foam up a lot during this process. If the foam gets too high, toss a few drops of cold water in the pot to bring it back down.
- Strain the mixture through a colander lined with a finely woven cotton cloth that is sitting over a bowl or pot. You want to catch as much of the liquid as you can, as it is this liquid which you will use to make your tofu.
- Protecting yourself from the heat with gloves, carefully gather up the sides of the cloth and twist it closed. Using a jar or a potato masher, press the bundled-up sack against the colander, squeezing out as much soy milk as possible. You may be surprised how much you can get! The pulp left in the mix is called okara and is very nutritious in itself
- In a cup, mix together your chosen coagulant with 1 cup of water and stir until dissolved.
- Quickly rinse out your cooking pot and put it back on the stove. Transfer the soy milk to the pot and cook it over low heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spatula. When the soy milk is between 150 to 155° Fahrenheit, remove the pot from the heat.
- Stirring with the spatula in a whirlpool pattern, pour half of the coagulant mixture into the soymilk. After stirring vigorously 5 or 6 times, bring the spoon to a halt upright in the mixture until all the turbulence ceases in the pot, then add the rest of the mixture. Stir gently in a figure eight pattern. When you notice that the soy mil is beginning to coagulate, cover the pot and let it sit for 15 minutes.
- Line a colander with another finely woven cloth and set it into a supportive bowl or over the sink. Gently ladle the coagulated soy milk into the cloth-lined colander.
- Fold the cloth over the mixture and place a weight of 1 1/2 pounds, let it stand for 15 minutes over the cloth.
- Place a large bowl in the sink and fill with cold water. Unfold the cloth and gently transfer tofu into the bowl. Gently run cold water from the tap into the bowl, careful not to let any water directly hit the tofu.
- Serve immediately or store in fresh cold water in your refrigerator.
Image Source: cipher/Flickr
Here are 10 amazing Tofu Recipes to get you started!