Tofu is perhaps one of the most misunderstood foods ever. For one, many people hate it due to its bland taste and boring appearance. Tofu is often associated with vegans and vegetarians. So, if you are not among those two, this is most likely the last thing you would want to eat.
On a positive note, tofu is slowly getting the attention it deserves. In fact, a lot of food establishments around the world have already included tofu as part of their menu. Given the increased popularity of vegetarianism over the past years, it’s only natural for these restaurants to offer meals for this specific niche.
In addition, several studies have also found that tofu has high source of protein, making it a great meat alternative. Likewise, this food item also offers several health benefits that can improve our overall health. So if you want to change into a healthier lifestyle, you can consider tofu on your next meal recipe.
But have you ever wondered how tofu was made? Here are some interesting facts about this soy-based product.
All about tofu
As you might already know, tofu is a soy-based product that is popular especially in many Asian countries. However, tofu is slowly getting its way onto Western food establishments and even at family dinner tables. You can enjoy it stir-fried, baked, deep fried, or incorporated into soups.
There are actually different tofu types, of which the most common ones are silken or extra-soft, and extra-firm tofu. The former can be used for desserts due to its soft texture and consistency.
The latter, on the other hand, can be used for frying, baking, and cut into different shapes. Nonetheless, tofu is one of the most versatile ingredients around because it can be used in different dishes.
How tofu is made
Tofu is usually made up of three major ingredients. These are soybeans, water, and coagulant of choice. Among common coagulants used in making tofu include magnesium salt and calcium sulfate.
Soy milk is extracted from the beans, and then added with coagulant to form a curd. The curd is then pressed to form into a white, creamy substance that will eventually be tofu. It may either have a custard-like consistency or resemble a block of cheese depending on the tofu type.
Making home style tofu
You, too, can make your own tofu at home. As mentioned, it only requires a few ingredients. But you need to prepare several kitchen tools to produce your own tofu. You should also carefully consider the type of coagulant you will use, as it can affect the taste of your tofu.
For example, magnesium salt provides a slightly bitter aftertaste to tofu. However, a lot of people somehow love its taste, and is actually the commonly-used coagulant in making tofu. On the other hand, some use calcium sulfate or “gypsum” which provides less bitter taste.
Here’s what you are going to need to make your own tofu:
• 3 cups soybeans (preferably non-GMO)
• 1 tablespoon coagulant of choice (nigari, gypsum, or Epsom salt)
• ½ cup water
• Medium-sized mixing bowl
• Cheesecloth for draining
• Wooden spoon for mixing
• Tofu mold
1. First, soak the soybeans in the water in the mixing bowl. Let it sit overnight. Drain the soybeans the next day.
2. Pour soaked soybeans into the blender together with around 8 cups of water, and blend until it looks frothy enough.
3. After blending, pour the soy concoction into a cooking pot over medium heat. Stir often and remove foam and froths forming into the mixture. Continue this until the mixture starts to steam, but make sure not to boil it. Also make sure to continue stirring to prevent burning, or it will affect the tofu’s taste.
4. After the soy milk mixture becomes foamy, remove the pot from the stove. Put a mesh strainer over a bowl and line it with cheesecloth. Pour the soymilk into the strainer and leave to cool for about an hour.
5. After cooling down the mixture, form a sack using the cheesecloth sides and squeeze the remaining soymilk from it. Set aside the soy solids, while pour the drained soymilk into the pot.
6. Reheat the drained milk over medium heat, and make sure to stir frequently to prevent burning in the bottom. Turn down the heat once steam starts to appear, and let it simmer for about five minutes. You are about to make some tofu!
7. Turn off the heat and remove any solids that formed on the mixture. Next, dissolve coagulant in water. Using the same pot, stir the soymilk for about 10 seconds then slowly pour about ¼ of the coagulant concoction and stir the soymilk some more.
8. Add ¼ more coagulant, cover the pot and let it sit for around three minutes. Stir the pot and add more coagulant. Repeat the procedure until the coagulant mixture has been used up. You will notice that your soymilk has already become curds.
9. Using tofu mold lined with cheesecloth and the mesh strainer, separate the curds and the whey. Do this until there is no longer whey to be drained.
10. Move the curds into the tofu mold, cover with cheesecloth and add some weights to press the curds. You can buy a “tofu press” online and make this operation easier for you. Let it sit for about 15 to 25 minutes for a firmer tofu, then store in the refrigerator until it is firm enough to be cut. You can now fry, bake, or steam it for your next recipe.
What’s in your tofu?
As mentioned, tofu contains essential nutrients that are good for the body. The firmer the tofu, the more calcium and protein it contains. Aside from these, tofu also contains fat, carbs, fiber, and sugars, although in minimal contents. It is also low in calories, which makes it an ideal food for those on a special diet.
It is also rich in isoflavones that is good for the heart, as well as a great source of iron. It lessens the risk of cardiovascular diseases, lowers cholesterol, and even prolongs your life. Just ask the residents of Okinawa, a Japanese island known to have residents with long lifespan.
There is no need to be scared to eat tofu. Better yet, you can make your own if you want to make sure what goes into your body. More so, it has essential nutrients that can make you live longer and stronger.