How-to 5: Make Quick and Easy Tofu

Baked tofu with brown rice and roasted veg... yum!

This month I thought I'd give some step-by-step instructions for making tofu the quick and easy way- it's really not that much different from making paneer. If you are vegetarian and especially vegan, then making your own high protein foods like seitan or tofu works out much cheaper than buying them, and needn't be too time-consuming if you plan meals in advance. (Seitan for a meal for 4-5 people costs just the price of a 1.5kg bag of white flour- 50p to about £1- plus a bit more for flavourimgs, and this quick tofu is less than half the price of shop-bought tofu.) When you make stuff like this yourself, it's truly fresh (in this case as fresh as the soya milk was, though) and you know exactly what's gone into it, too. It also makes a welcome change from beans!
 I used to work making tofu from scratch for a small business down in Glastonbury, using soya beans, grinding them, making soya milk and then curdling it to make the tofu. This is long-winded, but results in okara as well as tofu at the end. (Okara is the solid stuff which is left when you strain the ground beans to get the soya milk. It's fibre-rich and 24% protein, so is a great addition to baked goods, stews or veggieburgers. If you can't use it immediately, it freezes well.) The method for making tofu I'm showing you here starts with soya milk rather than the whole beans, so there is no okara produced- however, it doesn't take so long to make. For some tofu recipes from this blog, look here, here, here, here and here.

For approx 300g of firm tofu you will need:
2 litres unsweetened soya milk
lemon juice (bottled, not fresh)
muslin/fine cloth or a fine-meshed seive for straining
a plastic container with holes punched in the bottom and a lid with the rim cut off so it fits inside the tub  (a food tub is good) ,and a heavy weight (I used half a -clean!-brick)

Here are the step-by-step instructions: 

1: You need 2 litres of unsweetened soya milk; the brand shown here is a budget one- better to get organic; better still to make your own organic soya milk (but then that wouldn't be quick). Also have ready your bottled lemon juice...

2: Prepare a tofu mould from a food-grade plastic container: punch holes in the bottom and sides and trim the lid so that it lies flat on top of the contents. (This will prevent the tofu from coming into contact with the weight when you press it.)

3: Pour the soya milk into a deep, thick-bottomed pan and bring to the boil, stirring from time to time to prevent sticking.

4: When the soya milk is bubbling and rises up the pan, turn the heat off and stir in the lemon juice.

5: Keep the soya milk moving, and after a minute or two it will curdle, like this. Mine seems to make lots of small curds.

6: Place the mould in a tray, ideally raised on a cooling rack (not shown here, as my photo didn't come out that well!) and ladle the curds into it using a slotted spoon. I completely bypassed the muslin bag stage that you do when making paneer, and it worked just fine...)

7: Put the lid on and place a heavy weight on top. I find a scrubbed half brick will do just fine. The longer you leave it, the firmer the tofu will become. To get firm tofu like the stuff in the shops, I pressed my curds for just under an hour. If you want to make tofu mayo or dessert, you may not need to press the tofu at all, in which case you would need to hang it awhile in a muslin cloth to drain.

8: ..Hey Presto! A 300g block of firm tofu, ready to stir-fry, bake, freeze etc. It's not perfectly smooth, but holds together just fine. If you don't want to use it immediately or to freeze it, transfer it to a lidded container and cover with water. Change the water daily and it will keep for a few days.


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