Tofu is the unknown, magical, oriental secret that we plebian westerners only have access to in hip healthy grocery stores. In China my friends and I would buy what they called "brain tofu" off street venders in little cups with brown sugar and plastic spoons - that variety was softer, almost like a fuller (yet lighter...) yogurt with a bit more "squish." In college we cut and fried it and ate it with broccoli and soy sauce and now Mansour and I throw it in with mozzerella as an afterthought when we thaw soup for dinner. But I've honestly never known where it really comes from.
It turns out tofu-making has a very similar method to yogurt/cheese making (heat milk, add fermenter/hardener, let sit, strain as needed) but the differences in ingredients makes it tofu instead of the cross between sour cream and cream cheese that is fromage blanc. So! Here is the first of the two recipes!
NOTE: the second will require my new fromagerie... which requires for sitting for 18 hoursto plan.
The only special equipment you will need for #1 is a cheese cloth. Nigari might also be a bit annoying to locate, but most crunchy, hippy, healthy-ish stores seem to carry it. In the package it looks like large white fish flakes, but when you touch it it is almost glassy and makes pretty clinking noises when you spill it on the counter (and floor, in my case). Otherwise, over-the-counter magnesium works, too, in the same quantities.
1L soy milk
2 heaping teaspoons Nigari flakes disolved in
4 teaspoons water
Pot for boiling
sieve (like you use to drain boiled pasta, yes?)
heavy pot/pan with a flat bottom, or a large plate you can put some water in (this is just for weight, to put on top of the tofu, so dont worry about it being anything special)
wooden cutting board (eh... probably not required)
Bring the soy milk slowly and gently to a boil. Pour in Nigari dilution and stir minimally. It will start to "curdle" (if we can call it that with soymilk?) almost immediately, which means it will look like really bad sour milk floating in water. lovely. I know.
Leave it for a bit longer as the curdles grow and lump together until there are very distinctly two different substances in the pot; one a yellowed clear liquid and clumps of soon-to-be homemade tofu.
Pour all of this through the sieve that you have lined with the cheesecloth, gather the corners of the cloth and start squeezing to drain the liquid out of the tofu. CAREFUL, though, the liquid that comes out is REALLY HOT. boiling, actually. I ran this all under cold water as I squeezed and still burned myself a little.
This will be the basic shape of your finished tofu, so shoot for "pretty ball." Place the tofu, still in the cheesecloth wrap, on a wooden cutting board and put your heavy pot on top. Leave for 10 minutes, flip, leave for 10 more. This both evacuates more liquid, making it firmer, and gives it a nice flat disk shape.
Gently unwrap the tofu and place it in a tupperwear (or whatever you have) container, submersed in water in the fridge, where it will continue to firm.
It should keep for 3 or 4 days, but keep it immersed under the water!
Okay, I failed on "pretty" this time. BUT ITS TOFU! Also, this is a half recipe, so don't worry, you'll have more than this tiny ball's worth!