People are always asking me how I make my own tofu and I'm always telling people it's easy and to give it a try. And yes you can always add your own herbs and flavourings in the curd to craft your own schmexy tofu varieties.
Awhile back I posted this tutorial, but not everyone has a press or a mould, nor a soy milk machine, so I thought it'd be worth posting a quick tut on how to make your own bean curd without any fancy equipment (in fact I've given up using my soy milk maker out of preference for this blender/liquidiser method). This will only make a small quantity, but consider it a jumping off point. You can easily double or triple it later if you decide you want to make more.
Soak ½ cup of soy beans in 2 cups of water overnight. In the morning skim any gunk off the top of the water and blend the beans and soaking water along with another 1 cup of water. You don't need a mega liquidiser for this, just something that'll make a good pulp out of the lot.
It will smell rank at this point, but take note of it so you can spot the difference in aroma once heat has been applied.
Pour the contents of the blender into a medium saucepan and turn the heat to medium high. Stir constantly while the mixture heats. Once it comes close to boiling, the top will grow foamy and rise. Quickly remove the pan from the heat to stir everything back together again. Heat for a further ten minutes on low heat and you'll notice that pre-cooked beany smell has disappeared. Be careful not to leave on high heat for too long else everything will curdle and you'll have to chuck it out and start all over!
Meanwhile place a mesh colander over a large bowl and line it with thin muslin. Once you're finished heating the soy mix, pour it into the fabric and press as much milk through as possible (use a spoon or spatula to help). Add another ¼ cup of boiling water to the soy pulp and stir through, again pressing out as much as possible. I usually leave it to cool for a few minutes so I can just twist the muslin up and squeeze with my hands.
You will be left with what's known as okara, the by-product of all soy milk and hence tofu production. Pop this in the fridge because you can use it for all sorts of other recipes.
Pour the contents of the bowl, your soy milk, into a saucepan and heat until the temperature reaches 180 F.
Mix 1 teaspoon of nigari flakes plus ¼ teaspoon gypsum with 2 tablespoons of hot water in a small bowl or cup (you can experiment with using just one or the other coagulant, but this is my preference for taste and texture). Stir until the nigari is dissolved. When the soy milk is hot enough remove it from the heat and stir quickly a few times before pouring the nigari/gypsum/water across the vortex, ensuring you cover as much of the milk as possible.
Pop a lid on the pan and leave aside for a good ten minutes for the curds to separate. Sometimes it helps spread the coagulant evenly by lightly agitating the pan a few times.
Either get a clean piece of muslin or rinse the one you've already using and line the mesh colander once more over the bowl. Check out the curd in the pan; it should look like a big clump of white floating in greenish clear liquid. If it still looks opaque and milky then try applying some more heat to the pan and gently agitate it again.
Carefully pour everything into the muslin. Tilt the colander from side to side to let as much of the whey pour through as possible but do not stir the curd or use utensils to press liquid out.
You can do one of two things here: either ball the muslin up as tight as you can, wrap it equally tight in a tea towel, and press it with a heavy object or five (like books), or mould it. Because the former method is pretty self explanatory I opted to do the latter for this tutorial.
Find a small (and I mean small - no more than 4-5 inches square for one batch) tupperware container and line it with a tea towel. Set the muslin on top of the tea towel and carefully distribute the curd to lie flat in the container (you can use your fingers or a spoon). Fold the muslin over the curd so it covers the container evenly. Fold another tea towel over this and place a heavy object(s) on top to press. The amount of time you leave this depends on how firm you want your tofu, so you'll need to experiment!
And that's it! Once you remove the weight and towels, unfold the muslin to find your very own home crafted tofu!