At the peak of my DIY food addiction in 2013, I decided to make tofu at home. I bought an over-priced automatic soy milk maker and a crazily heavy voltage converter on eBay, asked my mom to mail me a wooden tofu-making kit from TaoBao (the Chinese Amazon), and I made my own tofu.
I was happily “bankrupted” due to expensive international shipping fees, BUT I didn’t complaint. I thought making tofu was going to be really hard, so I probably should spend a fortune to justify that difficulty level. (Yes, I understand I might have just exposed my IQ here…
…If you want to see the cheaper process, skip down to the recipe)
Here was my logic:
1) Making tofu requires fresh soymilk. Up until that point, the only way I know how to make fresh soymilk is via an automatic soymilk maker. (Fun fact: every Chinese household has one!) So I must need one: $140
2) I need to use a mold to shape tofu, and people on TV seems to all use a wooden type of mold. So I must need one. $36.2
3) A soy milk maker must be a Chinese thing because I’ve never seen Americans make fresh soy milk before. The voltages between the two countries were different. So I must need a voltage converter: $49.99
4) That curdling agent magnesium chlorides—does that thing even exist here? (Yes, it does, but I didn’t know it at the time) I must need one from China: $8.95
It was $295 (including international shipping), 2 gallons of fresh soy milk, and 48 hours of impatient waiting, and the result was half the size of a regular firm tofu. I remember the sound of my broken heart. I did continued to make tofu a few more times, but eventually got bored and stopped.
Fast forward 3 years, I decided to make tofu again. As a older and wiser person, I’ve now known the inside-out of tofu making. This time, no more than $10 total cost.
The truth is, making tofu is dead simple: you add the curdling agent (high-brow people call it coagulant) to freshly boiled soy milk, let it curdle, move the curdle into a mold, add pressure to shape the curdle and you have tofu. A gallon of fresh soy milk costs $2 at an Asian grocery store (note: please don’t buy Silk brand or supermarket brand as they contains stabilizers that will NOT make the curdling process happen), a plastic container costs nothing, cheesecloth costs maybe $2, and you can either use vinegar as the curdling agent or buy food grade Pickling Lime for $4.5 at TrueValue or Amazon (it’s main content is Calcium Hydroxide, which causes the curdling process to happen).
Here’s a step by step process to make tofu at home. Enjoy!
Step 1: bring 1.5 liter fresh soymilk (with ZERO addictive) to a rapid boil. Then turn it off.
Step 2: combine 5 grams of pickling lime with 15 grams of water.
Step 3: When the temperature dropped to 80˚C (176˚F), add the pickling lime mixture.
Step 4: Distribute the mixture evenly.
Step 5: Patiently wait for 20 min. If the curdle doesn’t “seem” to appear in after 5 min, turn on the heat and bring up the temperature for a little bit, like, to 190˚F)
Step 6: the curdling stage should look like this:
Step 7: add the curdle to a mold (that had been laid with a piece of cheese cloth), carefully avoid adding much liquid to the mold, the liquid will be drained out anyway,
Step 8: fold the cheese cloth like this:
Step 9: top the mold with a heavy object, mine is a big mason jar filled with water.
Step 10: wait for 2 hours, and you have TOFU!!! HOORAYYY!!