This is a step-by-step instruction for perfect homemade tofu with super easy ingredients. Tofu is a magic food. Chinese people love almost all things from soy milk, the very basic is soy milk, then all types of tofu, fermented tofu, marinated tofu, dried tofu, and tons of delicious tofu dishes. It was pretty hard to buy in the past two days so I made a lot of batches myself at home. Follow the steps and you will find homemade tofu is very funning and easy.
Tofu, also known as bean curd, is a food staple that originated in ancient China. It is made from the curds of soy milk pressed into a soft, white block. The foundation of tofu is the whole soybean, which is soaked and processed with coagulants either calcium sulfate or magnesium chloride. This results in tofu containing protein, iron, and other vitamins and minerals. The tofu's texture varies depending on water content, varying from silken tofu, regular tofu, and firm tofu to extra tofu.
⭐ Beans used to make tofu
The beans used to make tofu is soybeans. Soybean, or Glycine max, has been a staple in Asian cuisine for centuries. An important component of many vegan diets, soybean is versatile and can be turned into tofu, soy milk, and even soybean flour. Amazingly, tofu and soy milk possess similar flavors and develop different textures depending on the manufacturing process they undergo. With its high nutritional value--such as quality protein, fiber, minerals, and vitamins --soybean is an excellent addition to any diet. Chinese monks first invented tofu in the 2nd century AD, and it remains a popular ingredient throughout China.
📖About tofu coagulants - the curling agencies
There are several commonly used coagulants in Chinese cuisine.
- salt coagulants: the first group is salt coagulants (盐卤) including gypsum (石膏粉) and Nigari salts (In Sichuan cuisine we call this 胆巴).
- GDL: the second group is Acid coagulants including GDL (葡萄糖内脂), mainly for super tender tofu and tofu pudding. But regular acid including rice vinegar or even lemon juice can help the soy milk become solid too. I demonstrate how to make tofu with rice vinegar in this video. But other coagulants work too.
- Sour solution: I use rice vinegar for the curling process this time because I want to show some magic about vinegar. You can replace the coagulants with other types. Make sure you read the instruction and follow the words exactly.
GDL and gypsum can produce the most tender tofu compared with the other three types. Rice vinegar and lemon juice can make soft tofu, firm tofu, and extra firm tofu.
My grandmother is quite good at making tofu, douhua, and fermented tofu. If you are interested in how we make large batches of tofu at home, check out this video on INS. Homemade tofu, although requires time, tastes better than the store-bought version because of the stronger aroma of soybeans. So I recommend all of the foodies try at least once to find the small differences.
Ingredients for tofu
The ingredients for tofu are quite simple and easy. You will need the following.
- soybeans- choose high-quality soybeans
- a coagulant
- water to make soy milk.
🥛How long to cook the soy milk
Soy milk should be boiled for enough time before eating. Uncooked soy milk is harmful to our health. You need to boil the soy milk for 15 minutes. But watch out for the fire carefully, it overflows quickly. Using a larger contains helps too.
Wash the soybeans and then soak the soybeans overnight or for 4 hours until softened. Transfer to a blender and add water. Blend until very smooth.
Place gauze on a strainer and then strain the soy milk.
Bring the soy milk to a boil. Watch carefully since it overflows easily. Skin off the bubbles on the surface. Stir occasionally in the heating to avoid sticky bottom(recommend at least 15 minutes, Thanks Nicolas for the suggestion about the trypsin inhibitor). Remove from heat and rest for 2 to 3 minutes until the temperature drops around 80 degrees C to 90 degrees C.
No thermometer by hand, let the soy milk cool down for about 2-3 minutes. The temperature should be in the right range.
Whisk 3 tablespoons of rice vinegar or 3 fresh lemon juice with 1 cup of water.
Use a small spoon and gently stir the acid mixture in. You can watch the video for the details until the tofu protein is firmed (the liquid above becomes clear). You don't need to use all of the vinegar mixtures. Once the liquid is clear, stop the step. Now we get the Sichuan-style douhua if slightly pressed.
Take time when stirring the vinegar water in and stop once the liquid turns transparent and clear. We don't need to use all of it.
Transfer to a shaping tool (I use a tofu maker) and press a weight. I use a stone crusher in the video. You can use anything with a heavyweight. The tofu can be pressed for 10 minutes (soft tofu) to 1 hour (firm tofu). You can use a wooden presser or a plastic presser.
After the processing, I recommend soaking the tofu in cold water for at least half an hour so the texture can be more intense and the way, possible to remove the extra sourness or bitterness caused by the coagulants.
How to make tofu taste good
Tofu itself is quite plain and has no unique taste. Following is some of my favorite way of turning it into something really delicious.
- Pan-fried and then toast with the spice mix. This is the simplest way of making tofu delicious. Cumin, Chinese five spice, and other spice mix are the perfect match.
- Match it with a dipping sauce, in Sichuan, we serve tofu with a chili dipping sauce. You bite both the tofu and the seasonings, making it taste really good.
- Coat it with delicious sauces, like mapo sauce, sweet and sour sauce or kung pao sauce.
How to cook with tofu
I use this batch to make soup with super tender Chinese-style meatballs. And also easy pan-fried tofu. Following are some ideas about how to use your tofu. The long list shows how much I love tofu.
1. Mapo tofu
2. Sweet and Sour Tofu
3. Pan-fried tofu
4. Steamed tofu with chili sauce
5. Steamed tofu
6. Pan-fried tofu with black bean sauce
7.Tofu and Bok Choy Soup
9.Kung Pao Tofu
10.Crispy sesame tofu
11.Minced pork and tofu fritters
- 3 cups soy beans , clean and pre-soaked with water until soft
- 5 L water , for blending the soy beans and washing the pulp
- 3 tbsp. rice vinegar , or juice from 3 lemons
- 1 cup water
- Wash the soy beans and then soak the soy beans overnight until softened. Transfer to a blender and add water. Blend until very smooth. I blend the soy beans by three batches, each time with 1L water for blending and another 500 to 700ml to wash the pulp.
- Place a gauze on a strainer and then strain the soy milk. When the pulp is almost dry, add more water and wash the pulp. Squeeze the gauze bag forcefully to make sure all the liquid is squeezed.
- Bring the soy milk to a boil. Watch carefully since it overflows easily. Stir from time to time to avoid a burnt bottom(recommend simmer for 15 minutes for the consideration of trypsin inhibitor). Skin off the bubbles on the surface. Remove from heat and rest for 2 to 3 minutes until the temperature drops around 80 degree C to 90 degree C. Stir from time to time during the heating to avoid sticky bottom.
- Whisk 3 tablespoons of rice vinegar or 3 lemon juice with 1 cup of water.
- Use a small spoon and gently stir the acid mixture in. You can watch the video for the details until all of the tofu protein is firmed (the liquid above becomes clear). You don’t need to use all of the vinegar mixture. Once the liquid is clear, stop the step.
- Transfer to a shaping tool, you can use a rectangle strainer. Press with a weight. Set aside for 15 minutes for softer version or 30 minutes for firm version.
- After the processing, I recommend soak the tofu in cold water for at least half an hour so the texture can be more intense and by the way, possible to remove the extra sour or bitterness caused by the coagulants.