Pressed tofu from beans, the Okinawan way (day 1)

That’s a tutorial to make VERY firm tofu. (read about tofu texture, types, recipe of soft tofu, click here)

In Osaka, this tofu from Okinawa is quite expensive as it seems it travels by plane in first class, or just because it is uncommon so there is a rarity tax. I wanted to make mine. It’s not complicate, that takes 5 minutes to soak the beans and 15 minutes to make it later. I wonder why I have not done it years ago.

This is not a personal recipe, I have taken it here and even if it’s in Japanese you should go to see the photos. The author is the owner of a store selling Okinawan products.

Shopping list :

-Dry soy beans
Nigari, the curding product
-Cotton gauze or cheese cloth

-Pressing box (optional)

You will also need a simple blender (or a very good hand-cranked vegetable mill).

I use medical cotton gauze (sterile, pure cotton, no added product) because they sell it cheaply in any pharmacy. Cheese clothes, well tofu clothes or similar pieces of fabric work too.

The box is optional. You can squeeze the tofu in the gauze and press it in any spring form mold for cake or whatever box you have. And if you have no box, squeeze the cloth strongly, and you will get a ball of tofu.
Mine is not a specific tofu press, it’s a box to make oshizushi (pressed sushi) and I already had it. It’s very similar to a wooden tofu press :

tofu boxshop

These days makers also use metal boxes.
This, below, is a vegetable press, to make tsukemono (Japanese pickles), Sauerkraut, etc.
tsukemono-ki shop
I don’t think that would be the most convenient in this case as you can’t close it with the cloth. I’d buy it for the pickles. Confidence: I own one that I have never used in years as I squeeze them with my hands and then I remember the existence of the gadget.

Ingredients :

You need soy beans, of course. They are called 大豆 daizu in Japanese. Here GMO plants are totally forbidden, and unless they are cheating us, all those we buy are non-GMO.

Soaking :

The night before, rinse some, and place them in a bowl with 4 or 5 volumes of clean water. The time depends on the weather and age of the beans. They double of volume and take a longer bean shape.

にがり Nigari is made traditionally from sea water. We buy it in bottles. It mostly contains magnesium chloride. From wikipedia :

Magnesium chloride is an important coagulant used in the preparation of tofu from soy milk. In Japan it is sold as nigari (にがり, derived from the Japanese word for “bitter”), a white powder produced from seawater after the sodium chloride has been removed, and the water evaporated. In China, it is called lushui (卤水). Nigari or lushui consists mostly of magnesium chloride, with some magnesium sulfate and other trace elements. It is also an ingredient in baby formula milk.

Convenient set-up :

That’s to make the soy milk : I place a cloth in a metallic sieve, an prepare a salad bowl.

That’s to shape the tofu : I wash my box (or whatever) and a cloth, and I install them in a dish-washing basin.

So put the beans to soak and come back tomorrow (or jump here if you are reading from the future).

4 thoughts on “Pressed tofu from beans, the Okinawan way (day 1)

  1. Pingback: Tofu and faux tofu | GOURMANDE in OSAKA

  2. Hiya! This looks lovely, thanks for sharing all the info and photos. I’ve tried making tofu with my partner once before but it didn’t work so well, though I think that was due to a food processor which just wasn’t up to the task. We’ve got a kilo of soy beans coming from an organic co-op type place in a few days, and have recently stocked up on nigari and a cheese press to serve as a tofu press. I’ve also been reading Andrea Nguyen’s ‘Asian Tofu’ which has been really great… I was wondering if you have had much success with cooking the tofu? I often shallow fry cubes of firm tofu to toss through salad, stir fry, or to snack on. Do you think the homemade tofu would work out okay? Thanks heaps 🙂 Bec

    • I wouldn’t blame too much the food processor, even if that’s unpleasant to get a messy mixture. They used to make tofu without machines, They had more effort to do when they squeezed the grounds. The important point is probably the soy milk temperature when you add the nigari, and the quality/amount of nigari.
      Home-made tofu can be used just like the one you buy. This one is a firm type. You can make it even firmer by squeezing out the water (put a heavy plate on it for 1/2 hour) and/or precooking it a little (steaming or microwave) before cutting and frying.
      Hopes that helps,

      • Hey My, thanks for the guidance on tofu making. Last time, we tried using epsom salts, and this time have some nigari to use, so hopefully that will help with the final product. You’re so right about the machine… sometimes I feel like I need to remind myself that all these gadgets are conveniences, not necessities. Cheers, Bec

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