Thursday, June 28, 2007
GOURMET TOFU FROM YOUR OWN KITCHEN!
Fresh sage, leek, and dried wild mushroom tofu, just made, drizzled with a bit of soy sauce
Last week I came across this very cool blog post (UPDATE June 2015: The blog doesn't exist anymore, unfortunately) about making homemade tofu with vegetables and herbs added. The authors called it "tofeta", but, since that name conjures up a salty, fermented taste for me, I just call it "gourmet tofu". Whatever you call it, it's a brilliant idea.
That article inspired me (as the authors intended) to think of other flavors, and quite a few combinations came to mind. However, I decided to try it more or less according to their directions for a start. They did not specify the amount of soymilk they started with, so I used 2 batches from my soymilk maker, which is 3 quarts, un-flavored. (PS, June 2015: the soymilk makers I have are Soyquick, but that brand is no longer in business-- too bad, they are great and have lasted a long time. You can check the reviews on amazon.com of other brands [or amazon.ca or the one for your country]).
NOTE: There are explicit directions for making tofu, written by my friend Brenda Wiley, at this link. Just follow those directions, with my additions below. If you don't want to make your own soymilk, and you have access to fresh unflavored soymilk from an Asian soy product store (most big cities have such a store), you can use that instead. But make sure it is fresh and un-flavored!
They added dried mushrooms, dried leeks, and dried sage to the soymilk before coagulating. Since I had some fresh leeks and beautiful sage growing in the garden, I decided to use those, plus some dried mixed wild mushrooms, which I soaked in some hot water. I also decided to chop the sage and leeks (green and white part) in the food processor and then sauté them briefly in a little olive oil, to bring out the flavors and chopped the drained, soaked mushrooms (the directions from the blog mentioned were a bit vague).
1 cup dried mixed wild mushrooms, soaked them for 15 minutes in boiling water
3 cups roughly chopped leeks
18 fresh sage leaves
(I chopped the leeks and sage in the food processor)
1 Tbs. olive oil for sautéing
I used 1/2 cup of the hot mushroom soaking water instead of plain water to dissolve the coagulator (I used nigari). I added the prepared veggies and herbs to the hot soymilk when it got to just over 180 degrees F, then drizzled in the dissolved nigari, stirred gently and briefly, covered the pan and let set for 10 minutes.
The tofu curds
I stirred the curds briefly again and then scooped them into two of the little plastic tofu boxes you often get with soymilk machines, but which you can purchase separately. If you have a nice wooden tofu mold (or in Canada here)you can do the whole batch in that.
Curds in the tofu molds before pressing
I use a kind of jury-rigged pressing system. (Jury-rigged or Jerry-rigged? Jury-built or Jerry-built? Although their etymologies are obscure and their meanings overlap, these are two distinct expressions. Something poorly built is “jerry-built.” Something rigged up temporarily in a makeshift manner with materials at hand, often in an ingenious manner, is “jury-rigged.” “Jerry-built” always has a negative connotation, whereas one can be impressed by the cleverness of a jury-rigged solution. Many people cross-pollinate these two expressions and mistakenly say “jerry-rigged” or “jury-built.” See also http://www.word-detective.com/2012/01/jerry-rig-jury-rig/) :
I used 5/ 28 oz. cans of tomatoes and stacked the last 3 on a wooden cutting board placed over the first two cans to make the pressure even. That's about 9 lbs. and I pressed it for about 15 minutes. It's pretty firm tofu. It made 1 lb. 2 oz.
It is fantastic! I ate some fresh and warm, just drizzled with a little soy sauce, as the Japanese do.
UPDATE June 29, 2007:
Last night, as a starter, we had small pieces coated lightly with nutritional yeast flakes, pan-fried in just a little olive oil with a few drops dark sesame oil, and served with soy sauce. Divine!
This morning, I scrambled it with a good sprinkle each of nutritional yeast flakes and soy sauce to eat with toast. Lovely! (I apologize for not being very inventive-- it tastes so good in these simple preparations. I do want to try marinating, deep-frying, etc. at a later date.)
I did not store it in water (which is the way you would normally store fresh tofu), because I didn't want to destroy the flavor, and we plan to eat it up soon, anyway. I just placed it in the fridge on a plate, covered with plastic wrap.