The Easy Way to Make Homemade Tofu? Peaceful Cuisine

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 neighbourhood in Seoul. This dubu ajeoshi taught me that tofu is not a recent invention or factory sealed commodity; it has a history reaching back over two-thousand years (slightly predating your local superstore). This tofu was made with silky homemade soy milk, skill and passion which, as you can imagine, is a delicious combination.

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: Deautsch is sehr schlecht und unserer recycling does not get recycled. While the effects of producing tofu may pale in significance to the quantity of waste coming from meat production, there is a need lead the way in caring for the environment – including ways of reducing packaging. This is why now is the time to try turning out some homemade tofu.

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 favourite of mine, Peaceful Cuisine – the Japanese chef double-handedly calming the soul with slow and simple vegan culinary cuts. Even if you just want to watch the beauty and delicacy of the craftwork, you are sure to feel more content that such people are in the world with you.

Blend the beans to make the milk

Before attempting the tofu recipe, I had to source the nut milk bag, tofu press and nigari necessary to follow this video. The nut sack was made from hemp, while we went with a durable-looking plastic tofu press intended to be used for the next hundred years. The coagulant magnesium chloride (nigari) looked as though it was in a paper bag but when opened this was a plastic-lined paper bag (the perils of online shopping). The soybeans we sourced locally and plastic-free from the ever-reliable DER SACHE WEGEN in Berlin.

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

Coagulate the milk to make the bean curd

The final step was to scoop the mixture gently into our tofu press and wait in hope that it would solidify. Sadly we didn’t have any of the cotton cloths as shown in the video and we used paper coffee filters instead which worked just a treat. With much of the residual density removed (the tofu press does work) the result was a little smaller than what you find in the shops. Next time I will be sure to pile the bean curd higher in the tofu press but, for a first attempt, I was more than satisfied and surprised.

Press the curd to craft the tofu

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 ajeoshi in Seoul: fibrous, sweet, and beyond the freshness you normally associate with tofu. Something I did not know was possible was brought to life in my kitchen and, just as someone in Korea maybe did two-thousand years ago, the homemade tofu was used to make vegan rabokki.

For future attempts at making tofu, follow the BEAN_ist on Instagram and if you want to make some carrot cake with your tofu, try this: 🥕

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