Homemade Tofu Making
I am interested in trying to make some tofu from scratch at home. I know that there is two essential ingredients: dried soybeans and a coagulant called 'nigari[additional info on this product would be great].'
Do any or have any chowhound out there made their own tofu? recipes? stories? results? TIA
I do make my own on occasion. It really is a trade off of loving to tinker vs 15 cents a block (7/$1 here in San Francisco).
The two ingredients are somewhat correct. You can shortcut the dried soybean soaking by buying Soy Milk Powder ($1.49/lb at Whole Foods bins).
As to coagulant, there are two common ones. Nigari is the Japanese name for the seaweed extract that chemically is Magnesium Chloride. It is cheap, but wasn't easy to find even in San Francisco's JapanTown. The other common coagulant is calcium sulfate. I haven't looked for that, but it is preferred for the calcium benefits. I drink plenty of cow milk and don't really believe in vitamin (mineral) supplements, so p'shaw.
What else? You specifically asked about Nigari. Mine was $1.78 for 4 oz. Not a lifetime supply, but enough for a decade. (well that could be a lifetime) Natural Import Co, 1-800-324-1878
Recipes? I have been measuring, but even with the gram scale, the stuff is too light for me to tell. Oh, you could just buy soy milk and add the coagulant. Results? It tastes good, and I still do it, but in 40 minutes I can walk to and back from an asian market where the fresh daily tofu is 7/$1 (1" x 3" x 3") so it really is more the study than the practicality.
Perhaps the essence of a ChowHound.
Feel free to ask specific questions.
A good book to have for all aspects of tofu (including making your own) - The Book of Tofu by Wiliam Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi:
More than the actual ingredients, I've always been put off by the different pieces of equipment you have to accumulate to properly form and press. Shurtleff provides an address for a source of some items in the book (The Soyfoods Center in LA), but the book is from 1975, so I would be surprised if that's any good. I would google around and look for sources for the forms.
Here's a site with some info on tofu making, as well as their product which makes soy milk (you use soy milk to make the tofu). They provide the press and cheesecoth (if you buy the deluxe combination).
I use the Book of Tofu. The equipment isn't really that bad - a couple of large pots, a food processor, cheesecloth. For a form I use a colander, so I get a sort of a pie rather than the more traditional brick. To press I use a gallon jug full of water, set on a plate, set on the tofu.
Nigari is a seawater derivative, mostly magnesium chloride. I get it at Uwajimaya's, the Japanese supermarket in Seattle. It is kept by the seafood section for some reason. You can also use epsom salts, calcium sulfate (gypsum), or even lemon juice (not traditional).
Tofu-making is fun on occaision, and it's nice to know that you can do it. But with cheap fresh tofu available nearby, I don't find the time expenditure justified by the very slight savings. If I lived someplace where I could only get the sort of tofu packed in plastic tubs and held on shelves for weeks, (and overpriced, for that mattter), I would probably make tofu a lot more often.
Oh, save the pulp you get after straining your soymilk. I don't use it for traditional Chinese or Japanese dishes, but I make okara burgers with it - add an egg, a bit of flour, lots of flavorings (soy, curry powder, whatever) and fry. Use lots of oil, or even deep-fry. They are delicious, and they freeze well, giving you a homemade convenience food for essentially nothing.