Fresh Tofu?

I had read about barrels of fresh tofu in a deli…somewhere.  I hadn’t been lucky enough to stumble over one in any deli I had happened upon.  Lamenting I did not have access to the delicious blocks of fresh tofu, which this was only imagined since I had never had anything but store-bought, I was determined to end this dilemma. If this fictional deli with the unknown name was not opening in a neighborhood near me, I will make my own!! The motivation to do this DIY project was once again, influenced by, America’s Test Kitchen. I must have read the directions a dozen times while I waited for the dried soybeans and nigari to arrive. This was definitely a new frontier for me. I did not grow up in a house where my Mother made tofu on the weekends, nor had I worked in an Asian restaurant and had witnessed it being made. No, no, I had nothing to compare it to and no history to draw from.  I was excited to think I could do this at home and have fresh blocks of tofu.  This is where I confess:  It isn’t easy or quick but the results are pretty tasty.

Tools and ingredients: Molds, nigari(a type of salt) and soy beans.  Not pictured but also needed: Cheese-cloth or food- grade muslin. The mold on the left is the plastic container with holes punched out of the bottom and other is a mold I recently purchased.

Start out by soaking 8 ozs beans for 12-18 hours. The beans here have been soaked for 18 hours.

Take 1 cup beans, 3 cups water and process in blender.  Repeat this twice and pour into Dutch oven.

Bring beans and water to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often.  Once boiling, reduce heat and cook 10 more minutes until slightly thickened.

Prepare a colander with triple layer of food-grade muslin or cheesecloth and place the colander over a bowl or pot. Pour the soy liquid into the muslin.  The cloth will catch the soy curds and the bowl beneath the colander should be smooth, soy milk. Gather up the ends of the muslin and squeeze out the excess liquid.  Put the curds aside for another use(I feed it to chickens, but I am guessing there are other uses). Pour the liquid back into a clean dutch oven and bring back to a boil on medium-high heat. Remove from heat and add a 1/4 Cup of the diluted nigari while stirring. Let rest for two minutes, covered.  Uncover dutch oven and add remaining nigari. Wait 20 minutes, undisturbed.

Gently scoop out the curd and place in a cheese-cloth lined mold.

Cover curds with extra cheese-cloth and weight it with a two-lb anything. Keep the weight on until desired firmness.

The finished product.  It ended up in a curry stew.

Taken from America’s Test Kitchen DIY

8 ounces(1 1/4 cups)dried soybeans, picked over and rinsed
9 1/2 cups water, plus extra for soaking beans
2 teaspoons liquid nigari

1. Place beans in large bowl or container and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Soak until beans are pale yellow and split apart when rubbed between fingertips, 12 to 18 hours.

2. Drain and rinse beans(you should have about 3 cups beans). Working in batches, process 1 cup soaked soybeans and 3 cups water in blender until mostly smooth, about 3 minutes. Transfer mixture to Dutch oven and repeat twice more with remaining 2 cups soybeans and 6 cups water.

3. Line colander with butter muslin or triple layer of cheesecloth and set over large bowl. Bring soy milk mixture to boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently with rubber spatula to prevent scorching and boiling over. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

4. Pour soybean mixture into prepared colander to strain. Being careful of hot soy milk, pull edges of muslin together to form pouch, and twist edges of muslin together. Using tongs, firmly squeeze soybean pulp to extract as much liquid as possible. You should have about 8 cups of soy milk; discard soybean pulp or reserve for other use. Transfer soy milk back to clean Dutch oven and bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Remove pot from heat. Combine remaining 1/2 cup water and nigari in measuring cup.

5. Begin stirring soy milk in fast, figure-eight motion with rubber spatula. fast, about 6 stirs. While still stirring, add 1/4 cup prepared nigari mixture. Stop stirring and wait until soy milk stops moving. Cover pot and let sit undisturbed for 2 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup nigari mixture on surface of milk, and gently stir using figure-eight motion, about 6 stirs. Cover pot and let sit undisturbed until curds form and why is pooling on top and around sides of pot, about 20 minutes.

6. Line tofu mold with butter muslin or triple layer of cheesecloth and place in colander set over large bowl or sink. Using skimmer or large slotted spoon, gently transfer soy milk curds to prepared mold, trying not to break up too much of their natural structure. Cover top of curds with excess muslin and place top of press in place. Weight with 2-pound weight. Press tofu until desired firmness is reached: 20 minutes for soft; 30 minutes for medium; 40 to 50 minutes for firm. Gently remove tofu from mold and place in pie plate or baking dish. Fill with cold water to cover and let sit until tofu is slightly firmer, about 10 minutes. Tofu can be refrigerated in airtight container filled with water for up to 1 week; change water daily.

Notes:  I had a tough time finding liquid nigari, so I bought flakes. Here is a link to Nigari. I add two teaspoons flakes to the 1/2 cup of water and stir until dissolved..

These are the beans I ordered, Bob’s Red Mill Organic Soy Beans; one bag will make 3 squares of tofu.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a mold, I fashioned one a plastic container with holes punched out of the bottom.