Tofu is made by grinding cooked soya beans until a milk is produced. The milk is then solidified with a mineral coagulant calcium sulphate. The resulting tofu is naturally bland. Thus its an ideal additive to both sweet and savoury dishes. It is primarily available in three textures: firm, extra firm and silken.
Silken tofu has a custard-like consistency and is usually substituted into dressings, protein shakes and desserts, sauces and in dairy free versions of ice cream or cheese cake.
Firm and extra firm varieties are usually cut up into chunks that stand up well to marinating and can be stir-fried, grilled, scrambled, pickled, smoked, baked or barbecued. Tofu itself is rather bland, but strongly absorbs the flavors used to prepare it.
Steamed tofu is particularly good for vegetarians. It will give the non-meat eater a plentiful supply of calcium ( which is derived from the calcium sulphate), as well as phosphorous and iron. Tofu is, therefore, an excellent substitute for meat in many vegetarian recipes.
Ingredients for making two blocks of tofu:
soybeans - 2 cups
water - 16 cups
nigari - 20cc
You will also need
Molding box for shaping the tofu, plus a cloth for the same purpose.
Nigari: Nigari is distilled seawater with the salt removed. It was used as a coagulant for tofu, but these days calcium sulfate is more commonly used, just as salt comes mostly in the refined form of sodium chloride.
Preparation method in steps: Step 1: Soak the beans.
Wash soybeans and place it in 7 cups of water to soak for one day and night
Step 2: Crush the soybeans
Mash soaked soybeans, together with the soaking water, for 1½-2 minutes. It will be easier to separate soybean mix into three piles when mashing. Smash by hand or use a blender.
Step 3: Boil the mixture
Bring seven cups of water to boil in a large saucepan, and add crushed soybeans. It can burn easily so boil while stirring from the bottom using a wooden spoon. Once it has come to boil, simmer for 7-8 minutes.
Step 4: Squeeze the soymilk
Squeeze the crushed soybean mixture using a cotton cloth. As it’s quite hot put the bag into a sieve and while holding it shut with your right hand squeeze with a spatula using your left hand. Lastly dip the whole bag in two cups of water and while it cools wring it over and over again with your hands to make thick soymilk.
The squeezed out liquid is soymilk, or “tou-nyu”, the leftover material in the cloth is tofu refuse, or “okara” in Japanese.
The more you squeeze it will the more firm is the tofu.
Step 5: Coagulation
Make nigari solution by diluting 20mls of nigari to 1/5th in water. Indirectly heat the soymilk by placing it in a container filled with hot water for five minutes. Cool it down to 10°, and then add nigari. Replace the soymilk in the hot water container, and while stirring slowly it will begin to set. When one or two transparent places have appeared, cover and let stand for fifteen minutes.
Step 6: Skim the surface
Using a small sieve, dip out the light yellowy-white colored surface layer. This liquid should be pleasantly sweet, so if it tastes bitter probably too much nigari has been used.
Step 7: Pour into the molding box.
Wrap the box in a criss-cross pattern with the molding cloth and ladle the tofu mixture into it. Fold the cloth and place the top cover on it. Place a weight on the top to press on the tofu. The more weight on top, or the longer you leave it, the firmer the tofu will be.
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