I’ve been eyeing these directions from Chowhound for a few years now. Long enough that I didn’t realize they changed the name from CHOW to Chowhound. When I first discovered it I thought, “Well, this doesn’t look too hard.” so I set out to find nigari as it was the only ingredient I didn’t have. I couldn’t find it anywhere in town so I decided to try it with lemon juice. Like they say in the article the lemon juice isn’t great. I ended up with something best described as silken tofu lemon curd. Not good, not worth using. I finally decided to try this again last week.
I went to Amazon and ordered all the stuff I needed and didn’t have already, totaled about $55 (free shipping). We eat tofu almost daily so this seemed like a worthwhile investment. The one thing I made sure to buy was a thermometer. My past attempt was all based on time and I wanted to do this by the book so I could note any screw ups.
I followed the directions from Chowhound almost perfectly. I didn’t use an empty milk carton to shape the tofu. I’m not super concerned about the shape so I used a strainer lined with cheese cloth. My finished product was thinner than a store-bought block but I would cut it to that size anyway so no loss there. If you want a thicker block of tofu you’ll want to do something like the milk carton they suggest. If you don’t really care, a strainer will work fine.
A Couple Notes
1. I soaked my soy beans for 24 hours. The directions suggest 12-24, 24 just happened to work out well for me. After that this all came together in about an hour.
2. If you’re blending the soybeans with a high powered blender try not to totally pulverize them. I have a Vitamix with timed settings (not speed) so I just used the pulse setting. Also, work in batches like the Chowhound directions suggest. I did 3 heaping cups of soybeans with water in 2 separate batches. If you totally pulverize the beans you won’t be able to properly strain them off later.
3. You could save a little bit of the water suggested for the boiling and use it to rinse out the blended soybeans from your blender.
4. Small mesh strainers with a handle were insanely helpful. Having a couple sizes was great too. Pulling off some of the ‘whey’ would’ve been much harder without the strainer. As the directions say lightly press down on the coagulated tofu and use a measuring cup to scoop out some of the whey. You won’t get all of it but it’ll help the skimming of the tofu.
5. When skimming the tofu I was able to use one of the smaller sized strainers to get the last bits.
I ended up with a beautiful piece of tofu that cooked perfectly. Now I just need to figure out what to do with the leftover ‘whey’ and okara! There’s quite a lot of both leftover when you’re done. If you’ve got any ideas, thoughts, or recipes for either the whey or okara I’m all ears! I’ve heard a couple already that I’ll definitely try out: okara burgers (dried out and mixed with a starch/seasonings) and using the whey as dish soap!
1. The Chowhound recipe says to let this cool to 165º. I’m not so sure that’s right. Since the initial attempt I’ve had it not coagulate at 165º so I stuck the soy milk bak on the stove top, heated it and added the coagulant. It worked out just fine!
2. The back of my nigari package says to add the coagulant at 180º+. It also states that the more nigari you use the more firm the tofu will be. I’m pretty happy with the firmness of 2tsp of nigari suggested by Chowhound.
3. I’ve stopped using cheesecloth since it seems wasteful to use for every single batch. I’ve moved onto a nut milk bag and it works perfectly!
4. I’ve also stopped pressing the tofu. I just hang it up overnight in the nutmilk bag and let it drain over the sink overnight. Works out perfectly!
5. If the soy milk seems to not be coagulating and looks milky still then sprinkle a teaspoon or so of the nigari into the mixture and stir softly. It should start to coagulate soon after.