Making Firm Japanese Style Tofu

For Bruce

To make this style of tofu you have to use nigari.

First you need soy milk of course. I used to make my own but I suppose you could use bought so long as it was unsweetened. I think fresh made is going to make the best tofu though. You’d have to experiment. My instructons assume you have made a batch of soy milk from 600 grams of beans.
This is all based on a book I have had for a very long time and which I rate very highly.
You will need
1. Nigari
Nigari is the tofu coagulant that is most commonly used in Japan; it’s magnesium chloride with other trace minerals. Gypsum or calcium sulfate is used in China. Nigari makes a firmer tofu with, I think, a better flavour.
Nigari is available powdered or flaked . I’ve used both but give instructions for making tofu with powdered nigari, which is easy to find
2. A box with holes.
Japanese shops sometimes sell nice metal ones but a tupperware type thing with holes poked through sides and bottom with a skewer (or drill) works fine.
If you aren’t bothered about the shape just use a sieve!
3.Cloth to line the box.
I used old well washed cotton sheet but big old-fashioned white hankies work too.
4. Thermometer (optional)
The soy milk should be around 75 dec C ish. Or hot but not too hot 🙂
5.Something flat to place on top of the mould, an old smaller plastic lid or a plate (if using a sieve for a mold)
Heat it up the soy milk so that it’s hot but not boiling.
Mix the nigari dissolving 4 teaspoons of powdered nigari in a cup (US measure) of lukewarm water until the powder is dissolved. Stir the warm soy milk and add the nigari liquid a little at a time, Wait a few minutes between each addition. Stop adding it as soon as the curd starts to separate from the liquid. (ie. lumps form)
Ususally I end up using all the nigari. (Too much nigari gives the tofu a bitter tase)
Turn off the heat, and put a tight fitting lid on the pot. Leave for at least 20 minutes. No peeking!
Open the lid, stir very gently & see if the curds have got bigger and separated. The liquid should be yellowish.
If the curds are still small and floating in white liquid, add any nigari liquid left, or make up a bit more and add 1 teaspoon full of the mix. Leave for a futher 15- 20 mins. This may or may not work as the liquid might now be too cool.
Line the mold with clean white cloths that have been dampened in water and wrung out.(Really mustn’t be too wet!)
By now the curds should have sunk to the bottom of the pan. Scoop out the whey like liquid, trying not to disturb the curds.
Now gently scoop out the curds into your mould.
Once they are all in there (at this point I often despair at the small yield if using pre-made soy milk!) fold the cloths over the top to cover them. Now place something flat on top – I used to use a lid that was for a slightly smaller box and press down with a weight. Nothing too heavy – a tin of beans on it’s side works ok.
Leave it like this for about 15 minutes.
Fill a large bowl with water, and put your mold into it, Tip out the tofu gently & slip the cloth off.
If you are going to store it pop it into a container with water – or serve at once!

Frozen Tofu
Firm white tofu, once frozen, turns yellow and drastically changes texture. It has a meaty consistency and will soak up marinades and sauces.
Cut your moulded tofu into 4 squares and then into triangles place on kitchen paper or similar and freeze,
To cook deep fried, frozen tofu cutlets
Squeeze out the water between paper towels pressing gently.
Cut triangles in half.
Put enough marinade in a pan to cover the tofu (1 part shoyu to 4 parts water with ginger & chili works well)
Pop in the tofu
Bring to a gentle simmer for about 20 mins.
Pat dry
Coat with fine japanese breadcumbs
Deep fry.
Yum! Nigari makes the best tofu!


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