Homemade Tofu

April 1, 2010


Last week we had dinner at a restaurant where they make their own tofu and it was really good, special. I have been meaning to make tofu at home for kind of a long time, so I thought why not make my own soy milk first and then make tofu? Which is not unlike deciding to make cheese at home and milking the cow, or goat. I love cheese making, I have made plenty of fresh cheese, such as ricotta and paneer. In fact, I have “novice cheese maker” on my resume, or CV, or whatever you prefer to call your life’s work experience. This caused some snickering amongst a couple of my (dearest) friends, wondering who crowned me “novice cheese maker”. Well, I did.

It is not easy to find magnesium chloride or sodium sulfate in Vancouver. You need this to make to tofu. First I went to a drug store, a pharmacy. They sent me to a health food store. The health food store recommended a pharmacy, so I went to a different one. Most unhelpful. I decided to try a Japanese food store, plenty of those in Vancouver, to buy nigari which is, to the best of my knowledge, a Japanese version of magnesium sulfate. They were sold out. I called a gourmet store, nope, they don’t carry it. Then I called one of those bulk food shops, one that specializes in gluten-free everything, where everything smells like dusty curry powder, and then a well-known Asian food shop, where they charge twice as much as anywhere else. No luck. I started thinking about what needed to happen, chemically, with the soy milk. I became more determined. I needed to coagulate the soy, it needed to curdle. When I make paneer, I use vinegar. It’s so easy. It is easier than going to the store to buy paneer. I’m not kidding. So, I thought, why not use vinegar? I should consult my paneer recipe, yes? No. I should try to figure out what 0.25% of 3000 grams is. I did this by calling Michael at work and, nerd that he is, I could hear him clacking the buttons on his calculator. He was clackulating. I chose not to bother to learn to use a calculator, or math, for that matter. I knew I’d never need it. The answer he gave me didn’t sound right, it wouldn’t be enough. Don’t ask me how I know this. Never mind the calculations, I would create my own, and I would use vinegar to curd as a verb. The only plain white vinegar I had was pickling vinegar, and at 7% acidity it runs about twice as acidic as regular table vinegar. Is this boring to read? Allow me to skip to the recipe.

Makes 1 – 300 g block of tofu + a lot of mess

3 litres of soy milk, unflavoured

2 teaspoons agave

2 tablespoons pickling vinegar

Pour soy milk into a very large pot, as it heats it foams and could very quickly erupt over the sides of the pot. Turn heat on to medium and bring to just below a simmer, you want to scald the milk. Turn off heat and stir in agave. Add the vinegar, stir once or twice, and let sit for a few minutes. You will see the soy milk separate and the curds form. While it’s curdling, line a tofu mold… I don’t have a tofu mold, either, so I lined a square, removable bottom cake pan with three layers of cheese cloth. Set on top of a rack over a large bowl to allow it to drain. Carefully ladle curdled soy into the cheese cloth lined pan. You can leave a lot of the liquid in the pot and try to scoop out mainly tofu curds. The liquid that is scooped along with the curds will drain right through into the bowl, the curds will stay put, eventually forming your block of tofu. Discard all of the liquid. Once all the curds are in the pan, take a piece of plastic wrap and cover the surface of the tofu to be. Carefully, gently and evenly press down on the block. The more you press, the firmer the tofu you will make. I pressed a little more enthusiastically than I should have. I wanted a soft tofu and ended up with a medium-firm one. I’m impatient, and I carefully unwrapped my tofu right away. I cut a slice, and it was still ever so slightly warm. It was really nice, it tasted fresh. But what a mess. There was a lot of the outfall from having also just made the soy milk. I didn’t even include that recipe here. Would I make soy milk and tofu again? I’m undecided. It seems foolish when you can buy a block of organic tofu for two bucks or less. I can cross it off my list now, though. I served my homemade tofu chilled, hiyayakko, topped with minced green onions, grated ginger and bonito flakes in a cold puddle of soy and yuzu.

Fresh Tofu


5 Responses to “Homemade Tofu”

  1. katie said

    clackulating…heh heh….my favourite part is that you then disagreed with his answer…

  2. Mimi said

    “Is this boring to read?”

    Not at all. The best post ever!

  3. Jen said

    This is a new extreme Dawne. I REALLY wish I could have sampled it!

  4. Jen said

    Wait a minute, this was an April fools!

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