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Thursday, June 28, 2007

GOURMET TOFU FROM YOUR OWN KITCHEN!

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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 about making homemade tofu with vegetables and herbs added. The authors called it "tofeta", but, since that name conjurs up a salty, fermenty 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, 3 quarts, unflavored.

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 unflavored!

They added to the soymilk before coagulating dried mushrooms, dried leeks, and dried sage. 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 for 15 minutes or so (they did not specify soaking). I also decided to chop the sage and leeks (green and white part) in the food processor and then saute them briefly in a little olive oil, to bring out the flavors. I also chopped the drained, soaked mushrooms (they didn't say to do that).

I used:
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 more finely in the food processor)
1 Tbs. olive oil for sauteeing



I used 1/2 cup of the hot mushroom soaking water instead of plain water to dissolve the coagulator (I used nigari-- two of those little packets you get with the soymilk machine). 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 get with the soymilk machine, but, if you have a nice wooden tofu mold you can do the whole batch in that.


Curds in the tofu molds before pressing

I use a kind of juy-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.”) :



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 Chinese (dark) sesame oil, and served with soy sauce. Divine!



This morning, I scrambled it with a good sprinkle each of nutrtional yeast flakes and soy sauce to eat with toast. Lovely! (I apologize for not being very inventive-- it tastes so good in these simple ways! I want to try marinating, deep-frying,
etc. at a later date.)



I have not stored it in water, as I don't want to destroy the flavor, and we plan to eat it up soon! I just placed it in the fridge on a plate, covered with plastic wrap. Thanks guys at wishwewerebaking!! I plan to try out some other flavor combos soon!

Enjoy!

14 comments:

Veg-a-Nut said...

What a wonderful idea! Looks great. I would love to own my own soy milk maker. It is on my wish list.

I just got the Everyday Dish DVD in the mail and the first recipe I made were your Vegan Chicken Cutlets. I just posted a review and pics! A big thank you to you, Dreena, and Julie for this very creative DVD! I hope everyone buys it. The DVD is great!

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Glad you enjoyed the cutlets, Veg-a-nut, and thanks for such a positive review! Your pictures look scrumptious!

TadMack said...

Exciting!!
Fresh herbs and veggies would give a really different taste; your texture does not appear much different than ours. Using dried herbs I thought might really intensify the flavor of something that tends to be a bit water-logged -- I look forward to experimenting with dried tomatoes and fresh basil, etc. It will, of course, no longer be remotely Asian necessarily, but ... the quest for "something else" always continues!

julie hasson said...

Just brilliant Bryanna (and Tadmack)!!

cali said...

great idea! i even have a soymilk maker and tofu press. now i just need to get some more nigari.

Padre Y2K said...

In your Archives you had a recipe based on one in "Simply Heavenly", using soyflour and tomato juice as liquid and acidifier, without straining out the soymilk. A grainier end product, but it may fit some textures, save time and add fibre to the resulting tofu.

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

That's not really tofu, though, padre-- it's a baked product.

DaviMack said...

I think that you're probably getting a higher-fiber product than you think, if you're using your soy-milk maker. As I've seen in the results from my mother-in-law's Soy Toy, the Okara you're left with is quite fine, and you don't get much volume of it, either.

When we make it over at WishIWereBaking we use a blender, having soaked our soybeans overnight, but we still end up with quite a quantity of Okara when we're done.

It's kind of a shame, really, because we're usually only motivated to make tofu when we run out of Okara. It's such a wonderful thing to have on hand, dried, to use in breads.

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

A friend tried this recipe and wrote: "I threw the mushrooms right into the hot milk ..... I'd recommend not doing that. My first bite simply SCREAMED mushroom taste!! Too much." It might work with a smaller amount of mushrooms, however, infusing the soy curds with mushroom flavor, but not quite as much. I'm going to try it that way soon!

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Further to my above comment, it might depend upon the type and strength of the mushrooms you use, too.

padre y2k said...

That soyflour recipe was baked, but what about using wet heat (steaming, pressure cooking, &c.)? And soy concentrates or isolates rather than soyflour? I had read that a pH 6.4 solution of isolate would form a gel after pressure cooking. This may be too out of scope for home cooking...I don't know anyone with litmus paper laying about.

DaviMack said...

It's not even that you'd need litmus paper, but that the pH would be thrown by the other ingredients you added, and some of the ingredients are in "chunks," so you'd not be able to test their pH effectively. That's part of the reason behind pressure canning things about which you are in doubt.

With ours, we threw the mushrooms straight in ... and didn't end up with any screaming from them. We also threw in the dried leeks before coagulating. It probably really does depend upon the quality of the dried mushrooms, I guess.

padre y2k said...

I read about the pressure cooking in a book on soy chemistry. It was a hot dog recipe. This was pressure cooked in a plastic hot dog casing. There was a picture of all these mock meats with a 1950's "better living through chemistry" type vibe to it. To me the idea held some promise for future experimenting.

Gaia said...

OH MY GOSH !!!!!!!!!