Tofu is pressed soybean curd obtained by coagulating soy milk. It has very little fat and large amounts of protein making it a very good vegetarian source of protein. Calcium sulpahte or Nigari, when used as coagulant, does not impart any taste to the tofu. Here I have used lemon juice for coagulation and thus the resulting tofu had a sour-lemonish taste. I also used cilantro and red chili flakes to flavor the tofu which is otherwise generally bland.
Homemade tofu: Flavored and Spiced
(makes a 3-inch square block)
Preparation time: 2 hours + soaking time
Cooking time: 30 minutes
1/2 cup yellow soybeans, dried
8 cups water
Juice from half lemon
1/2 tsp red chili flakes (optional)
1 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped (optional)
Soak soybeans in 2 cups of water for 10 – 12 hours. Soaking for longer than 12 hours results in tofu with a strong bean-y smell.
Rinse soaked tofu in running water for about 30 seconds. Blend the soaked beans with 2 cups of water to obtain a fine paste. Add another 2 cups of water to this to obtain a runny mixture. Sieve this mixture using a cheese cloth to obtain soy milk. The solid mass that remains in the cheese cloth is called okara. Add two cups of water to okara and pulse it in the blender. Repeat the process of sieving.
Heat soy milk on medium heat in a large saucepan. When the milk starts boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and continue boiling for another 20 minutes. Keep stirring occasionally.
After turning off heat, add half of the lemon juice, stir and let it sit for 5 minutes. If the soy milk has not yet coagulated, add remaining half of the lemon juice, stir and let it sit. Once soy milk has coagulated, add finely chopped herbs or red chili flakes and stir.
Sieve this mixture using a cheese cloth and a tofu mold (I used a colander as a tofu mold). Place a heavy object over this and let it sit for 30 minutes.
Once tofu is ready, it can either be used for cooking immediately or can be stored by refrigeration in water in an air tight container. If storing for more than a day, replace the water in the container with fresh water everyday.