We are so used to buying tofu from the supermarket that the history of making these blocks of delight is not immediately apparent. Taking the time to bring a soybean into the firm lifeform of homemade tofu is one way to discover the millennia-old tradition
The long and recent history of making tofu
After living in Korea for a few years, I thought I knew what tofu was: a plastic tub from the supermarket available in firm or extra firm; When laden with spices or seasoning, tofu tasted like whatever you wanted it to. As the platitude goes, it’s a texture more than a taste. But when a tiny shop opened up around the corner from me selling homemade tofu, I discovered things to be much more complex.
The waft of bean hovering outside the open door was fresh, intense, rich and irresistible – a sensorial experience missed out on in a supermarket. The owner was a retired school teacher looking for a stress-free existence selling organic tofu to his local
The knowledge that you could make soy milk in and of itself was enough for me to question the fabric of our society. That this could then be boiled and pressed at home to become a white slice of salubrity was a mind-F moment. It just did not occur to me. And it became something I wanted to try making for myself.
Help is at hand in attempting this
Back in present-day Germany, the revelations continue:
YouTube – if you’ve heard of it – is a useful reference point when making anything at home. There is an abundance of videos from cold-pressed soap to repotting plants that can educate and inspire us to do more. Slicing through the noise, I went to a recent
Before attempting the tofu recipe, I had to source the nut milk bag, tofu press
Following the instructions of the video, the soybeans were soaked overnight and the arrival of dawn was awaited to proceed with the next steps. Blending the beans with water and dates was a simple enough ask and after straining through the hemp sack, there was a substance very much in the realm of soy milk. This was then put on to boil while the coagulant was prepared to slowly mix into the warm milk. While the peaceful chef on the laptop was using a sachet of nigari, we opted for 4 teaspoons of powder mixed with 50 ml of warm water (although this could be double tested on later batches). The trick was somehow done and the substance continued en route to becoming tofu as the bean curb began to separate.
Something of a success
The final step was to scoop the mixture gently into our tofu press and wait in
If I could go back, I would have invested in the wooden tofu press to not only avoid the plastic but also because it’s much more aesthetically pleasing and comes with the necessary cloth. But! I had a block of tofu crafted from my own handiwork and the smell that filled the kitchen was almost identical to the 고소한 맛 of the dubu