I never cooked with tofu much before, as it’s expensive, and you need to go to a special shop for it, and it goes off, and I hadn’t experimented with it as a result so I didn’t really know what I’d do with it.
But now I make my own tofu all the time, since I discovered this method (thanks to Tammy Domeier for posting on eHow). It’s REALLY EASY- unbelievably so. So I thought I’d share my version here to help spread the word about how easy tofu can be!
Unless you really want to get into it, ignore the other posts you might’ve seen about needing to buy/soak soya beans and needing a special machine. You can do this using ordinary long-life shop-bought soya milk that you have in your cupboard and make it in just a few minutes whenever you need it. All you need in terms of equipment is a muslin bag, a pan to heat the milk in, and something heavy if you want it to set into a block, and you’re away.
It works equally well for sweet recipes (such as my white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake) and savoury ones (such as vegan quiche) and can be used crumbly (e.g. for a cottage-cheese style accompaniment) or pressed firm to use in chunks.You will need:
- 1 L carton of ordinary supermarket-bought soya milk (long-life is fine). We find this makes about the right quantity for most of our recipes. You can use double if you want a greater quantity of tofu.
- Approx 1 Tablespoon of some sort of acid. Malt vinegar, balsamic vinegar or lemon juice all work fine. Lemon juice is best for deserts and is my favourite, but malt vinegar is reliably in my cupboard and works well in savoury dishes.
- 1 muslin bag
- 1 pan
Plus if you want to press your tofu to make a firm block:
- Something heavy like weights, tins, or a jug of water
- a sieve/colander for straining it through
You can do without these last two if you just need crumbly tofu or are going to blend it smooth.
1. Put the soya milk into a pan and bring to the boil. Stir occasionally to avoid burning. Be careful to use a large enough pan and to keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t boil over and burn onto your cooker!
2. Remove from the heat and immediately start adding the lemon juice or vinegar a teaspoon at a time. Keep stirring as you do this.
You will soon start to see solid material forming. Keep adding the lemon juice or vinegar gradually, until the curds and whey are well separated into lumps and whisps of solid curds and clear (yellowish) whey liquid. Sometimes it helps to put the pan back on the heat to speed things along if it isn’t turning as quickly as expected.
3. Strain through a muslin bag and leave to drain.
4. For a soft crumbly texture like cottage cheese, allow to drain until ready to use, squeezing out any excess liquid if necessary. For a firmer texture or even a solid block of tofu, place the muslin bag in a sieve or collender to drain, cover with something flat like a small plate, and weigh down with something heavy to press the liquid out. (Note: you can buy or make a tofu press if you like, but I have got along OK with this method). Be careful not to break your sieve with too much weight as we did!
For flavoured tofu, we have experimented with adding things between stages 1 & 2, for example we successfully made coffee flavoured tofu for the creamy topping on a coffee cake.
Your tofu is ready to use!
Fried tofu: When I make firm chunks of tofu, I like to dry them on kitchen roll, dip them in flour then dip them in soya sauce/tamari then fry on all sides. This gives a good flavour and texture without needing to marinade.
Battered tofu: As a variation on the above, I mixed marmite, water and flour to make a batter, dipped tofu chunks in this and then fried on all sides. This comes out crispy, and is nice served on the top or the side of a dish rather than stirring in.
Marinated tofu: leave your chunks of tofu in a dish overnight (or longer) with a liquid made of tasty things such as soya sauce, garlic and spices, before use.
Smoked tofu: we used this tea-smoking method to smoke tofu in one big slab, which made it really tasty. It would probably be even better smoked in chunks. We want to try wood smoking another time.
Scrambled tofu: Take the soft unpressed tofu and combine with tasty things like soya sauce and onions, with a pinch of tumeric for colour, and fry in oil stirring from time to time until it’s browned and crispy.