Many of my readers are aware I make 99% of all tofu I use, and much of the soy milk I consume as well. I store massive quantities of soy beans under the sofa so I can enjoy some of my favourite foods cheaply and conveniently (really, making tofu is so much less complicated than it sounds).
Anyhow, below is a quick run down of my main uses for the prolific soya bean, complete with numbered pictures (hey, I love pictures).
1. Firm tofu coagulated with nigari and gypsum
Nigari coagulated tofu has by far the best flavour, but gypsum bulks it up a bit, so I tend to use a combination of the two in the process. I use a homemade tofu press crafted by my father, draining and lightly pressing the curd for up to an hour before removing the block, wrapping it in a tea towel, and popping it in the fridge.
If I want a more firm tofu, I press it further using the usual techniques. I use fresh tofu fairly quickly, so I tend to skip the step of storing it in water in a closed container (but I will store it this way if it's going to be around for a few days).
2. Silken tofu coagulated with nigari
This is tofu which hasn't been pressed, and the nigari imparts a lovely sweet taste which makes it ideal for simple pudding dishes and in light soups.
3. Soy milk
I make my soy milk with approximately 1.5 litres (6 cups) of water per 190g (1 cup) of soy beans (dried weight), or a water to bean ratio of 6:1. This makes a very thick and creamy soy milk which yields more tofu with less liquid (for those who use a soyquick machine, that's two lots of bean per one lot of water).
4. Dried soy beans
This is the base product, dried and waiting to be transformed into soy milk. Pre-soaked they're quite small, but increase in size by about a third or half when soaked overnight. Once soaked, they are ground with water and strained. What comes out of the stainer is soy milk.
5. Fresh okara
What's left behind in the straining process is okara, or soy pulp, a highly nutritious source of fibre which can be used in a whole range of dishes. If you look closely, you'll see some whole soy beans in there, to give an idea of what they look like once soaked.
6. Dried okara
And finally I'm often left with heaping quantities of okara, hence I dry it in the oven so it keeps. It can be reconstituted later and/or added to baked goods.