Soft Tofu: A Soybean Beginners Manual Vol. 3

This week’s post is going to be a shorter one since I’m polishing up and sending out my book proposal to a few places. And for those of you worried that I won’t be posting any meat recipes, I’ve got a pork rillettes recipe I’ll be posting in the next couple of weeks.

Soft Tofu

-1 cup dried soybeans (if you don’t have an Asian grocery store, you can usually find them at Earth Fare)

-4 cups water, plus more for rinsing and soaking

-2 teaspoons epsom salts, dissolved in 1/2 cup water (for those of you uneasy about the idea of putting epsom salts in food, remember it is the traditional coagulant, epsom salts is just the new name for it)

So you don’t have to backtrack through two older posts, I’ll start at the beginning.

Rinse 1 cup of dried soybeans well, making sure to remove any discolored, shriveled up or otherwise funky beans. Soak beans in a few cups of water overnight.

The next day, with the beans still in water, rub them around in your hands. This will loosen some of the skins and make the water cloudy. Drain off the water and any skins that are floating. Repeat this process until the water remains clear. Drain one last time and replace with 4 cups of  fresh water.

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Blend the beans in water really well, until the texture of sand. Remove any foam that forms at the surface, it will make your tofu bitter. I like my immersion blender for this step since I can use it right in the pot, but a counter top blender will work just as well.

Place the bean puree in a pot on medium heat, stir often. When it comes to a boil, turn the heat down to low and put a lid on it. Set your timer for 15 minutes, but come back every few minutes and stir the beans to prevent sticking.

After 15 minutes the beans should smell sweet and less beany. If not, give them another 5 minutes. Drain the beans in a cheese cloth or butter muslin placed in a colander over a smaller pot. Let sit until cool enough to handle, then squeeze the last of the soymilk out. The pulp left over is called okara and has many uses.

Place your smaller pot of soymilk on a medium heat until almost boiling. Turn off heat and gently swirl in the epsom salts dissolved in water. Put a lid on the pot and let sit for 15 minutes.

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By then you should see seperation of solids from liquid, although it won’t be as distinct as when you’re making firm tofu. Pour the contents into a cloth in a strainer like last time, except this time place the cloth full of tofu into a tofu press. Don’t worry, if you don’t have a tofu press you can make your own. I used two plastic containers that raisins came in. Poke some holes in the bottom one, place the tofu in it, place the second one on top and add a jar with some water for weight. Brilliant, I know.

Wait about 15 minutes and you should have a just solid block of soft tofu. If you want to firm it up a little more, leave it in the press longer.

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