Troubleshooting homemade tofu
Recently reader Joanna emailed asking why her home made tofu was, while creamy, not turning into an actual block of tofu. This happens to me sometimes too. The non-coagulated creamy tofu (which looks rather like fresh ricotta) can still be used in ganmodoki and other recipes that call for mashed up tofu, so it doesn't have to go to waste. Still, it is disappointing when, after all the trouble you've gone to to make tofu, your carefully formed block disintegrates instead of holding firm.
There are a few things you can do to avoid this. One thing not to do is to add more and more coagulant, since this will adversely affect the flavor. Adding too much nigari for instance will make the tofu very salty and unpleasantly bitter.
- Don't use old beans. Ideally buy beans that have a manufacture/packing date or expiry date on them, or buy from a source where you are reasonably sure of the freshness of the beans.
- Don't oversoak the beans. 8 hours seems to be the optimum soaking time. If you oversoak the beans they seem to lose their coagulating power.
- Don't under or overcook the ground up soy bean mixture. Bring it up to a boil then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
- When adding the coagulant, make sure the soy milk is at the right temperature - around 75°C / 165°F, and no higher than 80°C / 175°F. You may want to use a thermometer if you are unsure.
- Make sure your coagulant is good, and that you're using it correctly. If it came with instructions, follow them carefully. I got a supply of liquid nigari from a tofu maker recently, which didn't work at all until I realized it was actually concentrated!
- Finally, and this may seem obvious - handle your tofu block very very gently.
What else to do with mashed up tofu
Mashed up tofu is a very neutral substance that can be used in a lot of ways. You can add it to any kind of meatball mixture for instance, to make the meatballs lighter (see the recipe for okara meatballs, which has some tofu in it). You can also make it extra-smooth by passing it through a sieve or whizzing it up in a blender, and using it as a sort of cream. Just remember that if you heat it, the water will evaporate and the texture will get grainier.
One very simple thing to do with mashed up tofu is to turn it into a pudding.