July 23, 2010

A Tropical Tofu Smoothie With Some Home-made Tofu


Before I get on with this post, I just wanted to say a thank you to everyone who visits this blog and leave your comments. Akshaya also thanks you all for her birthday wishes.
Most of you would have noticed that I haven't been around blogdom much in the past month or so. There are demands on my time which often leaveme  just enough time to continue posting here as regularly as I can. I do miss "bloghopping" and shall come visiting as soon as I can.

As is our practice every month, four of us (Alessio, Asha, Pamela and I, a.k.a The 4 Velveteers) set ourselves a new kitchen challenge this month. So far we have tackled artificial colour-free Red Velvet Cake, Savoury Verrines with squash, zucchini, cheese and chocolate, dessert using any one fruit and two kinds of nuts, and a dish using a seasonal fruit/ vegetable and mint.
As you can see, its been fun all the way.

This month’s challenge was to make home-made tofu and then make a dish of our choice with it.
I must say my first reaction to making tofu, in general, wasn’t very positive. No one in my home likes the stuff, no matter what is made with it. I really cannot blame them, as the tofu I get here is slightly chewy and rubber-like and so not something one would want to eat, unless it was the only choice.
The only way I have managed to use it so far is as a substitute for egg in some bakes.
Imported tofu of better quality is available but is so expensive, I don’t think it is worth buying despite being a great source of protein.




And then the thought of making tofu scared me a bit because it brought to mind an episode on the Discovery channel I had watched some time back. It was about different types of tofu made in China and what stayed with me was some people in remote villages of China stirring vats full of soya milk and the commentator mentioning that making tofu seemed to be a smelly business!

However, a challenge is a challenge, and must be faced and completed in the spirit of things. Pamela also assured me that good tofu is supposed to be soft and somewhat like paneer (a fresh and soft Indian cheese). Now I do know that paneer can also be chewy and rubbery if not made or cooked properly, so the idea of making my own tofu started feeling good.

I guess the true challenge of making tofu from scratch would be to start with the soya beans. I shall do that some day (maybe), but this time I started halfway using readymade soya milk.

A lot of things going on at home this month meant that this post almost didn’t happen. By the time I decided I could do this challenge, I didn’t have much time to meet the deadline. I also spent a lot of time searching for soya milk before I found it, so I wasn’t going to complicate things for myself by looking for soya beans now. So my tofu is made with store bought soya milk.


My mound of home-made tofu!

If you have made paneer or ricotta at home, making tofu isn’t all that much different. The process is more or less the same, and it’s just the raw material that’s different. Even if you haven’t made anything like this at home, it’s still not something very difficult to do. You don’t really need any fancy equipment either but stuff most cooks have in their kitchens like pots, a wooden spoon, a couple of thin cotton kitchen towels and a colander/ sieve for draining.

As for the ingredients, all you need is some soya beans (if you’re making your own soya milk) and a coagulant of choice to turn the soya milk into tofu.
Here’s a good video showing how to make tofu from scratch.

Traditionally, the Japanese use “nigari” which is mostly magnesium chloride and made from evaporating sea water. The Chinese prefer gypsum (naturally occurring calcium sulphate) to make their tofu. Both of these may be difficult to find in stores everywhere and ordering them online isn’t always a viable option.

Another coagulant is glucono delta lactone (GDL) which is used to make silken tofu. More commonly available coagulants are Epsom salts (magnesium suphate), lime juice or vinegar. The texture and taste of the tofu would depend upon the coagulant used, the amount of it used.
The amount of pressure applied to pack the tofu and for how long it is left, also determines how soft or hard your tofu will be.

I have used vinegar and lemon juice to make paneer and wanted to see how Epsom salts worked as I’ve never tried this before. Epsom salts are considered a laxative but that shouldn’t be a concern as it is used in a very small amount here.

There are a lot of recipes on the net for making tofu at home and they all seem to start with soya beans. I just started with 1 tsp of Epsom salts and and then added another 1/2 tsp later to get my soya milk to curdle.


Home-made Tofu


Ingredients:


1 litre soya milk

1 1/2 tsp magnesium sulphate (Epsom salts)



Method:


Pour the soya milk into a pan and heat it till it reaches approximately 80C (about 175F). I don’t have a kitchen thermometer and I just dipped the tip of my finger in a bit of the milk to to judge how hot it was. This isn’t very scientific or very safe, but it works for me!

Dissolve the Epsom salt in 1/2 a cup of water and add it to the soya milk. Stir gently with a wooden spoon and you will see the soya milk starting to curdle. It took me about 5 minutes of gentle stirring on low heat (not boiling) before the soya milk curdled well.

The milkiness of the soya milk should have given way to clear amber/ light yellowish coloured whey and curdled solids. If there is some milkiness, add a little more coagulant (about 1/2 tsp Epsom salt in a little water) to the mixture and stir gently till no milkiness is visible.
Take the pan off the heat and allow the curdled mixture to stand for about 10 minutes.

If you have a tofu mould, line it with cheesecloth and pour the curdled mixture into it. I don’t have a mould so I used a strainer which I lined with a thin cotton kitchen towel. I placed over a bowl so that the whey could drain into it.That is why my tofu is mound shaped rather than the usual rectangle.

Once most of the whey has drained out of the tofu, tightly wrap the ends of the towel or cheesecloth over the tofu and place some weight (I used a jar of dried beans) over it so the excess moisture is pressed out and the tofu is packed into shape.

Remove the weight after about 20 minutes and open out the towel. I believe pressing it down for longer (about 30 to 40 minutes) will give you firmer tofu.
Turn out the tofu and its ready for use. Use it within a day.

If you are not going to use it immediately, place the tofu in a sealable container and cover it with water. Change the water everyday and use the tofu within a couple of days.
One litre of soya milk gave me about 1 1/2 cups of soft tofu.

*****

Now that the tofu was made, all I needed was to figure what to make with it. According to various sources, tofu made with Epsom salts should turn out soft and sweet. So I did a taste test, and though the tofu was really soft (but firm enough to hold its shape), I didn’t even get a hint of sweetness. I can say with much conviction that tofu is a taste I am yet to acquire.

In case you are wondering why my tofu is a dirty brownish colour, that’s because the soya milk was a light brown colour! I thought soya milk was meant to be white or very light creamish in colour.
In case anyone is interested, I used the Godrej brand of natural soya milk.




Given that tofu isn’t on anyone’s list of favourites here, I thought it was best to make something where the tofu had a large enough presence without taking the leading part in the show!

The perfect kind of recipe for this seemed a Tropical Tofu Smoothie that I adapted from MyRecipes.




I must say that while I haven’t become a tofu fan, I have no objections having my tofu in a smoothie like this. The tofu gave the smoothie some volume and a creamy texture, and if I didn’t actually put it into the blender I wouldn’t have known there was any tofu in it!



Tropical Tofu Smoothie
(Adapted from Cooking Light, January 2000)


Ingredients:


2/3 cup soft tofu, drained

3/4 cup pineapple juice, chilled

1 cup chopped mango

1 small banana (optional)

1/2 cup plain yogurt, frozen

1/4 cup orange juice, chilled

1 1/2 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp honey or sugar (optional)

seeds from 2 pods cardamom, crushed (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)



Method:


Process the tofu, chopped mango pieces and the banana (if using) in a blender till smooth. Add all the remaining ingredients and process again till smooth.
Serve immediately.

This recipe makes 2 tall glasses of delicious smoothie.

*****


The four of us go velveteering, as we like to call our kitchen adventures, with a new dish/ style of cooking/ cuisine every month. Each of us will share our recipes, experiences and verdicts on our blogs.
If you would like to join us, please leave a comment at this post or send me a mail and we’ll get back to you.

This month, Ken and Jaya are joining us in our adventures. Their posts will be on their blogs soon.

Alessio :  Tofu mousse with sesame seeds and matcha green tea.

Asha :  Mapo Tofu

Pamela :  Tofu Onde-Onde


30 comments:

PJ said...

Wow Aparna,you made Tofu at home!!!Kudos to you!!

Since paneer is not available and I don't make paneer often,my love changed to Tofu!!Here in China its so cheap and available fresh everyday at the farmers market that the thought of making tofu at home never struck me!!I substitute tofu in all dishes that use paneer and love it in smoothies..

After reading ur post,I want to try making tofu at home..Lovely post Aparna :)

Prathibha said...

You made tofu at home/???
Looks so yummy.. loved that cute shaped block of tofu...
Tropical smppthie looks yummy

Sayantani said...

am awestruck to see that you made the tofu from scratch. unbelievable work Aparna. the smoothie is a great idea to reap the health benefit of tofu.

lata raja said...

Neither are there tofu lovers at my home. My Chinese neighbour used to soak beans and make tofu and bean curd very often.I learnt from her but seldom attempt these days.
Loved the way you made the tofu block. Smoothie must have tasted great as with the rest of the ingredients, i can give tofu a gulp in .

jayasree said...

Your tofu mound looks very attractive. It sounds easy to make. As you said, it looks similar to paneer making. Haven't liked the taste of soy milk.

The Cooking Ninja said...

Yes your soya bean milk is a little bit strange in colour. :) All the soya milk I know is creamy in colour. ;) What a well written post. I love your idea of smoothie too. I didn't think of that at all.

Sinful Southern Sweets said...

I'm ashamed to say, I had no idea you could make your own tofu. Excellent job and great recipe!!

nivedita said...

Congratulations!
You achieved the challenge. And making tofu at home is a real challenge.
Keep up the work.

pigpigscorner said...

woh, well done!

Chitra said...

WOw , u r gr8 aparna.. :)

BangaloreBaker said...

Beautiful narration and pictures. Just something to try. If you cover the tofu block with enough water and refrigerate it, then keep changing the water every day, it'll stay fresh in the refrigerator for a week. I don't know if homemade should be any different in storing.

delhibelle said...

wow, you actually made tofu at home! The smoothie looks great

Asha @ FSK said...

Beautiful pics Aparna!!! Loving everyone's creations!!!

haha.. I see tortoise :DDD

Curry Leaf said...

I think in India we get the brownish soy milk only. I have tried several brands and all are same.KUDOS to you on making the tofu at home. UNBELIEVABLE. I love the mound of tofu.You are just EXCELLENT Aparna. I too had bookmarked the tofu smoothie but once I tried the tofu icecream with the available tofu,I gave up.Now I use it only for savoury dishes

Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

I like soy milk, atleast the flavored ones we get in little juice boxes, but I absolutely hate tofu. Congratulations on conquering it, but I'm sure I would hide it in a smoothie too :P

Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

I like soy milk, atleast the flavored ones we get in little juice boxes, but I absolutely hate tofu. Congratulations on conquering it, but I'm sure I would hide it in a smoothie too :P

Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal said...

wow, home made tofu, never saw anyone trying it before, so hats off and congrats both, the smoothie looks amazing.

Vaishali Sharma said...

WOW!! Homemade Tofu is commendable in itself and Tofu smoothie?? Who thinks of that? Awesome I must say! Kudos to you!

melekler korusun final said...

very nice blog, thank you admin

Priya said...

Excellent work, lipsmacking smoothie and beautiful homemade tofu....awesome..

ilcucchiaiodoro said...

Hello, I translated the recipe, found in the comments. If you have questions ask!
Donatella

suma said...

Wow!!Making tofu at home sounds like a good idea. I am not a huge fan of store sold tofu, nor can i digest buying the same at fancy rates...

suma said...

And yup, wouldn't mind having tofu loaded with all these fruits:-))

Chow and Chatter said...

cool you made tofu and great smoothie your daughter is adorable lol

Simran said...

I am so proud of you velveteers...I would never dream of doing anything like this at home

The Cooking Ninja said...

Usually in Singapore or Malaysia, the soya bean milk is flavoured with pandan leaves. The fragrant is better than vanilla. If you want a fragrant tofu, try boiling the soya milk with some pandan leaves.

bake in paris said...

Such a new invention.. smoothie from tofu... got to try this, really!

Sawadee from bangkok,
Kris

Libby said...

Homemade tofu? I never even considered it before, but I think it's going to be necessary for the next time I make smoothies...

Jaya Wagle said...

Love the idea of tofu smoothie. Wish I had seen this today morning when I was having my smoothie in between breaks from making tofu. :) Thank you for letting me a part of this cool group.

Aparna said...

Wanted to say again that making tofu at home isn't all that difficult, as I found out. Its just that its something most of us think of doing.

PJ, you're lucky to get fresh tofu of wonderful variety there so you can taste the authentic version.
If I were you, I wouldn't waste my time making tofu, either. :)

Lata, I try and hide such ingredients (which have health benefits but we don't really like) in something I know everyone would at least be willing to taste. :)

Jayasree, soyamilk is a bit of an acquired taste.

I thought so too, Pamela but the plain soya milk we get here is light brown!

BB, I kept my home-made tofu in the fridge for 3 days when I used it up.

Asha, I was tempted to use that tortoise in the picture after seeing yours! :D

I think so too, Sweatha. I'd rather hide tofu in dishes where I cannot taste it. :)

I agree, Avanika. :)

One normally doesn't, Vaishali, when its is easily available at the store.

Thank you, Donatella. Shall get back to you once I have made it. :)

Suma, its definitely better home-made.

Then you should join us, Simran. :D

Pam, I just discovered we get pandan essence (not the leaves) here. Its called kewra and I actually have a bottle of it on my shelf!
Shall use it next time.

You're welcome, Jaya. Glad to have you join us.