Tofu and I didn’t get off to a great start. I recall the first time I tried it, I must have been 15 or 16 and was volunteering in the fundraising department of a street child charity. We had gone to a local Chinese restaurant for lunch to celebrate raising our first £million. The vegetarian option was tofu in a sauce with steamed rice. I did not like it – it was slippery, rubbery and tasteless. Despite entering vegetarianism 10 years prior, I had never tried it before this and I don’t remember eating it again for years after that. Probably only when I became vegan did I give it more tries and still it took a few trials before I learned to prepare and cook it properly. Now? I love the stuff!
The trouble is, here in the UK, there isn’t an abundance of tofu widely available like in other places such as the US. In even the largest supermarkets, there are just 2 choices – Mori-Nu Silken Tofu or refrigerated ‘fresh’ tofu by Cauldron which is the firmest of the two yet is not very firm at all, and it certainly doesn’t remain in nice cubes or strips in a sauce or stir fry but it can do the job in a pinch and with a decent press.
In more specialist health food shops and online stores there is more variety and firm styles but none as firm as the firm or extra firm kind I fell in love with in the US.
For a while I had been thinking about making my own and had a little browse online, every recipe I came across for pages called for beginning with dried soy beans and making a slurry, cooking, straining and then curdling and pressing in a special wooden tofu mold. It just seemed like hard work and I didn’t want to pay out for a mold. So when I came across these instructions for making tofu from ready prepared soya milk, I was excited although it didn’t give any real measurements. So I played around and found the perfect quantities for a proper extra firm tofu that is so delicious even just plain and that will make the tofu haters think again. Plus I simplified the method. I also made the most simple homemade press/mold making this the cheapest and easiest method to prepare tofu I have ever seen!
There are various different coagulants that can be used to make tofu but I prefer Gypsum for it’s lack of bitterness, the high amounts of calcium it deposits in tofu and the tender yet firm result it gives. You can find out about different coagulants here.
Awaze Tofu crusted in Nutritional Yeast – from Teff Love
Simply take a small container preferably with a lid like a tupperware or aluminium food container with a card top. Drill holes around the sides above the base to allow the tofu to drain. If you don’t have a drill, you could use a corkscrew. Then take the lid and cut it to size so that it snugly fits inside of the container so that it would press against the contents.
Ingredients: Makes 1 block
- 1 litre/4 cups Soya milk (preferably organic)
- 2 tsp gypsum/calcium sulphate powder
- 250 ml/1 cup warm water
- Tofu mold (see above for homemade instructions)
- Cheesecloth, ‘J’ cloths or strong, absorbent paper towels.
- A large saucepan
- A thermometer
- A sieve
- A wooden spoon
- Add the soya milk to a large pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to about 80’C/180’F.
- Mix the gypsum with the warm water and stir to dissolve then stir the mixture into the soya milk. Place a lid on the pan and leave for a few minutes.
- Once all the soya milk is separating into small curds and whey, transfer the mixture into a sieve lined with cheesecloth to allow as much of the liquid to drain off before transferring inside the cheesecloth to the mold.
- Place the lid on the mold so that it presses on the tofu. Add weight to it like cans and leave to sit for 20 minutes to overnight for varying firmness. Drain away the liquid, rinse and use straight away or store in fresh water, changed daily.