From Soy Bean to Tofu


The theme for this week's cooking shenanigans were 'legumes' and I wanted to make something spectacular. I'm not a big fan of beans, so it was a bit of a challenge. I decided to make a chinese tofu dessert ('tofu fa') but I didn't want to cheat by just buying the soy milk.

I started off by making soy milk from scratch and used gypsum powder and corn flour as the thickening agent for the Tofu Fa. I felt like a complete amateur during the whole process, it was certainly exciting at the end when I finally checked the tofu to see if it had set after all my hard work!

And it did!

It tasted just like the tofu dessert my mom buys from our local China town. My mom's usually a tough critic but even she  enjoyed it too!

(Heating the puree, getting the mixture ready for pressing, extracting the soy milk, soy milk!)

('Okara', waiting for the Tofu Fa to set, moment of truth... It set!!)


For the soy milk (makes 3-5 cups):
(adapted from Eating Rules)

1 cup dried soy beans
muslin/nut milk bag

Wash the soy beans in cool water and drain. Pick out any bad beans and place the rest of the beans in a large bowl/jar. Add 5 cups of water, cover and soak for 8 hours in a cool place. If soaking for more than 8 hours, place it in the fridge to prevent bacteria from growing. 

Drain the beans and give them another quick rinse with cool water. Put half the beans into a blender/food processor and add 2 cups of hot water. Blend for around a minute or until relatively smooth. Put the puree into a large pot/pan and repeat this process with the other half of the beans. Rinse out the blender with 1/4 cup boiling water and add it to the pot.

Heat the puree over medium high heat, stirring the mixture to prevent the bottom from burning. When it suddenly starts to foam rapidly, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 8 minutes and take it off the heat. 

To extract the milk, line a colander with a pressing cloth such as cotton muslin, a nut milk bag or flour sack towel and place it over a large bowl. Place the puree onto the cloth and twist the cloth closed. Use a utensil such as a potato masher to press the milk into the bowl. When you can't press any more milk out, add 1 and a half cups of boiling water to the cloth and press again. The soy bean mash or 'okara' can be used for cooking japanese recipes.

The soy milk is ready for drinking or for making Tofu Fa!

For the Tofu Fa (serves 2-3):
 (adapted from Christine's Recipes)

500ml unsweetened soy milk
1/2 tsp gypsum powder
1/2 tsp corn starch
25ml water
rock sugar/dark brown sugar/ginger (optional)

I got around 650ml of soy milk from the previous recipe and adapted this to make use of all the soy milk, but if you're unsure of how to adapt it to what you have, just take 500ml or double the recipe if you have more.

Heat the soy milk in a pan. Meanwhile, dissolve the gypsum powder and corn starch in a large bowl. When the soy milk begins to froth rapidly, pour it into the gypsum powder/corn starch mixture from about a foot high to combine it well. 

Do not move or stir the mixture after you have poured it. Place a cloth over the bowl to absorb the moisture and cover. Let it sit for 40-45 minutes to set. 

Melt some rock sugar in water to make the syrup and add some ginger if you like!