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Author Topic: Adventures in tofu  (Read 1254 times)

Sefiru

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Adventures in tofu
« on: August 19, 2019, 07:44:29 pm »
I spent the weekend making tofu from scratch and I feel very proud of myself :) I also feel like I've discovered some kind of mundane Mystery, so I'm going to post about it in great detail.

Why bother?
I lived in Japan for a couple of years and often ate tofu there; it was cheap and I liked it. By comparison, the tofu available pre-packaged here in North America is just plain nasty. I often missed it but thought it would be too difficult to make myself. Meanwhile, I got my own place and began to get more comfortable with my cooking skills. I eventually stumbled on a couple of Youtube videos and articles on making tofu, and it seemed simple, if time consuming.

The practice run
My first attempt was a proof-of-concept using a carton of soy milk and vinegar as a coagulant; I used a sieve as a mold. The texture turned out OK, but the flavor was ... off. (Even the unsweetened soy milk I could find had unspecified 'natural flavors' in it, and the vinegar didn't help.) I decided to shell out for more proper ingredients.

The First Stage

125 g dry soybeans
4 cups water (not counting soaking water)

Turns out making soy milk isn't much more than "soak, puree, boil." I did buy a nut milk bag especially for this, for $5. The soy beans were dirt cheap at the bulk store. From the above amounts, I got 1 liter of soy milk and about 300 grams of okara (bean pulp).

I did not expect fresh soy milk to taste like raw snap peas. It's weird but not bad, and utterly unlike the boxed stuff. I still have no idea what those 'natural flavors' were supposed to be.

I fried up the okara with some vegetables for lunch, it was pretty good, though my resources were right about how much fibre it has. Beans don't usually give me the stereotypical gas, but this stuff sure did!

The second stage

1 L soy milk
1 tsp nigari (magnesium chloride) (+ half a cup of water)

The nigari took a bit of hunting to find. I ended up ordering it on Amazon; shipping was a bit expensive, but it's a liquid in a glass bottle so that's understandable. It smells like swimming pool water and tastes super bitter. All there was to do at this point was pour it in the soy milk, wait for curds to form, then pack it in the mold and wait for it to set. Basically a lot of waiting. Instead of a purpose-made tofu mold, I got one of those berry keepers that's a nested bowl and sieve (handy for rinsing and storing the tofu afterwards). Also, I lined the mold with coffee filters instead of messing around with cheesecloth.

The result
Fresh tofu is as amazing as I remember! With a cool, creamy texture (kind of like scrambled eggs). I ate it for dinner with some sliced cucumber and a bit of miso dressing; just the thing for a scorching hot day. Definitely worth the effort and I will be making it again when I have time.

Dynes Hysbys

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Re: Adventures in tofu
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2019, 07:09:14 pm »


The second stage

Fresh tofu is as amazing as I remember! With a cool, creamy texture (kind of like scrambled eggs). I ate it for dinner with some sliced cucumber and a bit of miso dressing; just the thing for a scorching hot day. Definitely worth the effort and I will be making it again when I have time.

I'm tempted to have a go now. I hate tofu. I've never been able to make it taste vaguely nice and the texture is nasty.

It's always been the commercially produced ones - I've never tried home made.

Sefiru

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Re: Adventures in tofu
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2019, 06:04:56 pm »
I'm tempted to have a go now. I hate tofu. I've never been able to make it taste vaguely nice and the texture is nasty.

It's always been the commercially produced ones - I've never tried home made.

Yeah, I don't know what they do to it to extend the shelf life (fresh tofu should be eaten same day, it's very perishable), but taste and texture definitely get sacrificed. It doesn't need any fancy equipment either - not even the fancy coagulant, acid seems to work just as well. (I'd suggest lemon juice or rice vinegar though, not apple cider vinegar like I tried.)

If you're curious, the instructions I used are here.

TsundokuTeaTime

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Re: Adventures in tofu
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2019, 03:10:21 am »
Yeah, I don't know what they do to it to extend the shelf life (fresh tofu should be eaten same day, it's very perishable), but taste and texture definitely get sacrificed. It doesn't need any fancy equipment either - not even the fancy coagulant, acid seems to work just as well. (I'd suggest lemon juice or rice vinegar though, not apple cider vinegar like I tried.)

If you're curious, the instructions I used are here.

Fascinating stuff, Sefiru. Love to hear the methodology behind different steps and ingredients. My grandmother tried to sneak tofu into things and I detested it- but the homemade stuff sounds really good, actually! Would love to hear more about your Japanese food experiences. My cooking tends to lean towards fusion recipes with a Japanese influence. Always looking to learn more.
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Re: Adventures in tofu
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2019, 11:43:49 am »
I spent the weekend making tofu from scratch and I feel very proud of myself :) I also feel like I've discovered some kind of mundane Mystery, so I'm going to post about it in great detail.

There's something profoundly satisfying about doing things from first principles, isn't there?
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Sefiru

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Re: Adventures in tofu
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2019, 07:15:28 pm »
There's something profoundly satisfying about doing things from first principles, isn't there?

Yep. And in finding out *which* principles are fundamental, and which are window dressing. (I still want that fancy $50 wooden tofu mold, though ...)

Sefiru

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Re: Adventures in tofu
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2019, 07:32:36 pm »
Would love to hear more about your Japanese food experiences. My cooking tends to lean towards fusion recipes with a Japanese influence. Always looking to learn more.

I'm usually not too concerned about authenticity either; I have a few recipe books, but most of the influence of Japan on my cooking is in the ingredients I keep on hand (soy sauce, mirin, soba noodles, miso). It's lucky that Asian ingredients are much easier to find in supermarkets here than there used to be, and I live in a large-ish city, so I can source (almost, hence this thread) anything.

One thing I do commonly make at home is bean sprouts. That's because they're sold here in huge bags that go bad before any sane person could use them up. This does take a bit of thinking ahead since they take 3-4 days to grow. I've tried those jars with a mesh lid, but the sprouts always grow twisty because they get jostled around. Now I put them in a small sieve inside a covered stockpot, and they grow nice and straight.

I have Opinions about sushi but I don't usually make it at home. I should try rice balls, maybe. One of the things I remember fondly is convenience store yakisoba, so I sometimes make that. Also okonomiyaki; I've heard it called 'japanese pizza' or 'pancake' but it's closest to Spanish Tortilla, an egg batter loaded with cabbage and other fillings.

... and now I'm hungry  :D

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Re: Adventures in tofu
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2019, 07:37:19 pm »
I have Opinions about sushi but I don't usually make it at home. I should try rice balls, maybe. One of the things I remember fondly is convenience store yakisoba, so I sometimes make that. Also okonomiyaki; I've heard it called 'japanese pizza' or 'pancake' but it's closest to Spanish Tortilla, an egg batter loaded with cabbage and other fillings.

I've done onigiri in the past, and they're not at all hard, though it helps a lot to have something to put rice into shape (I used a small bowl and saran wrap...) I like cream cheese, maybe dusted with wasabi powder, or a little bit of tuna in the middle (or avocado, if you can find one the right ripeness.)
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Dynes Hysbys

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Re: Adventures in tofu
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2019, 10:27:31 am »


If you're curious, the instructions I used are here.

Well I've just ordered some nigari - mine is crystalline form though. I'm looking forward to trying it.  :)

Sefiru

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Re: Adventures in tofu
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2019, 06:16:02 pm »
Well I've just ordered some nigari - mine is crystalline form though. I'm looking forward to trying it.  :)

Cool! Let me know how it turns out!

Dynes Hysbys

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Re: Adventures in tofu
« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2019, 11:46:43 am »
Cool! Let me know how it turns out!

I have soya beans and I have nigari  and most important I am in one place for 4 days!

The beans are now soaking. Watch this space!

Dynes Hysbys

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Re: Adventures in tofu
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2019, 01:59:10 pm »
I have soya beans and I have nigari  and most important I am in one place for 4 days!

The beans are now soaking. Watch this space!

Well!  I like the taste much better than any commercial one I have ever had so that's a positive. It was very soft though, I had plans for a stir fry but it was more like cream cheese than a solid sliceable block. I let it drain for a lot longer than the recipe cited too.

Looking forward to making my bean "nut roast" with the left over okara tomorrow. Another experiment! Basically it needs chopped cooked beans - which I now have of course so it should work beautifully


Sefiru

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Re: Adventures in tofu
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2019, 06:40:02 pm »
Well!  I like the taste much better than any commercial one I have ever had so that's a positive. It was very soft though, I had plans for a stir fry but it was more like cream cheese than a solid sliceable block. I let it drain for a lot longer than the recipe cited too.

Looking forward to making my bean "nut roast" with the left over okara tomorrow. Another experiment! Basically it needs chopped cooked beans - which I now have of course so it should work beautifully

Excellent! Yeah, personally I like the softer version; I think to get it really firm you'd have to increase the weight that you put on top.

Let us know how the okara turns out, too; I've been trying to find other things to do with it.

Dynes Hysbys

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Re: Adventures in tofu
« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2019, 12:02:40 pm »
Excellent! Yeah, personally I like the softer version; I think to get it really firm you'd have to increase the weight that you put on top.

Let us know how the okara turns out, too; I've been trying to find other things to do with it.

Finger might have slipped whilst I was browsing and there might be a tofu press on it's way  ;). I had a very Heath Robinson set up yesterday involving balancing  a sieve on the handle of my bread bin!.

Thank you for posting the link!

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