Tofu, the creamy, versatile and healthy vegetarian food can be found in abundance at Asian groceries, and quite often at regular supermarkets as well. A primary staple of a vegetarian diet, it is also a popular choice of ingredient for those living a healthier lifestyle, as it can be prepared a number of ways and utilized in a wide variety of dishes.
So if you can find it so easily for purchase, why try making it yourself at home? Because there’s something special about homemade tofu—just like baking an apple pie or your own loaf of bread, tofu made from scratch, by your own hands, is at the peak of freshness. And isn’t there something fun and special about a block of tofu that you’ve made yourself?
Okay, so maybe the idea of homemade tofu sounds seems daunting, but it’s actually a rather easy and simple process. In fact, once you do it the first time, you’ll realize just how easy it is, and may choose to make your own tofu from that point on.
Items Needed to Make Your Own Tofu
The equipment needed to make your own tofu is comprised of items you probably already have in your kitchen. These include:
- A food processor or blender for grinding soybeans
- A large and a small saucepan
- A mesh strainer
- A spatula
- A slotted spoon
- A cotton dishtowel
- A potato masher
- A colander
You can also find a basic tofu making kit for less than $10 on Amazon.com.
Ingredients Needed for Homemade Tofu
Next, it’s a matter of finding the ingredients needed to make tofu. If you can’t find them in a supermarket, you can find them for sale online. You will need:
Soybeans —These should be fairly easy to find. One thing to note: You cannot use soybeans that have already been cooked, such as canned soybeans. Seek out fresh, uncooked soybeans.
Nigari—The main coagulant utilized in Japan for authentic tofu is Nigari (magnesium chloride). It is made primarily by allowing seawater to evaporate and letting some of the minerals crystallize. There are various processes by which nigari can be made.
This coagulant serves to produce the best flavor and a firm texture. It can be found in Asian supermarkets, online at Amazon.com, and because it is also used as a health supplement, some health food and vitamin stores.
There are other coagulants available as well, such as gypsum, or even Epsom salts. Both will serve to produce fresh tofu, though the texture and tastes will vary. Nigari is the preferred coagulant in Japan.
How to Make Your Own Tofu
Once you have your kitchen equipment and ingredients assembled, you can begin the short and simple process of making tofu.
- Soak the soybeans in a bowl of water overnight.
- Drain and rinse the soybeans, then blend them with water in a blender or food processor. This will make soymilk.
Note: You may think you can skip a step by purchasing soy milk in a supermarket, but it contains many additives and won’t coagulate well.
- Heat the soy milk in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Use the spatula for occasional stirring.
- Strain the soy milk through cheesecloth into a bowl. If you don’t have cheesecloth, use the potato masher or a cotton dish towel to squeeze out as much liquid as possible through a fine mesh strainer.
- Bring the strained liquid to a boil, remove from heat, and then add the coagulant. Use the spatula to stir in the coagulant.
- The mixture will begin to curdle—let it sit for 20 minutes.
- Use a slotted spoon to collect the curds and mold them in a colander (or a tofu mold if you have one). The colander allows the tofu to drain.
And there you have it—simple, fresh, homemade tofu!