Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cooking with the Fam: Home made Tofu

June 25th marked 100 days since my Ba Ngoai's funeral. On the 100 day ceremony or "End of Tears" the family got together for what turned out to be a fairly wild day that featured all you can eat buffet birthday madness, a run in the with police and bible trivia during mass. As interesting as that may story might sound, prepare to be regaled about an event that took place the day before. 

My cousin Mai Vy had the opportunity to make tofu with Ba Ngoai and was able to take notes in her pretty notebook as best she could.
The secrets lie within!
So from that, we decided to meet a day before the 100 day and make home made tofu. My cousin Mai Vy took charge of the kitchen and got myself and her little brother Ben to work squeezing the soy milk. It was a fun way to spend the afternoon while Mai Vy told me about the cooking process with Ba Ngoai. We laughed about her bowls of measurement and how she would feel her way through a recipe that seems to be so touchy. If the recipe that follows appears to be a little vague, then at least you know why.

Ba Ngoai's (Grandma's) Tofu, taught by my cousin Mai Vy
Printable Recipe including the notes I took.

Materials required
2 1/2 rice bowls (or cups) of soy beans
Tofu cloth, like a bag or a net with very fine holes in it.
A Tofu block
A Blender or food processor
Tofu cloths
A home made tofu block by our Uncle Rob
In a large bowl (They are going to expand!), cover soy beans in water (about 1 inch above) , and soak over night.
Soaked Soy Beans
Blend 2 rice bowls of water and 1 rice bowl of soy beans until it looks fairly liquified.
One rice bowl to rule them all.
  Place a tofu cloth into a bowl and pour the contents of the blender into the cloth.

 Lift the tofu cloth and squeeze the soy mush dry.
Ba Ngoai would tell us you can always squeeze more!
Pour the soy milk that comes from it into a pot. Once it appears to be dry, dip the soy paste back into some water, let the excess water drain and squeeze it some more until what's left in the cloth is dry and chalky. Repeat with the remaining soy beans.

Cook soy milk at medium heat. Skim foam.

Skim it.
Fill a small bowl with water (maybe 3-4 cups of water). Add about a 1/4 cup of vinegar and taste to check if it's not too sour.
This exact size of bowl. Very specific!

Add 200 ml of the vinegar mixture and then cover.
Check after 5-10 minutes, it should have started to curdle. "Stir" slowly, try not to break the curds.

Slowly now.
Add another 200 ml of the vinegar mixture. Let simmer for a few more minutes. If you feel it could curdle some more, add about 50 ml more of the mixture but not too much, presumably to not to affect the flavour of the tofu.

Now comes the complicated part. Place the tofu block over your sink or something to catch the excess water. Put a clean tofu cloth in the tofu block. 
We had to turn the cloth 90 degrees so it could fold over correctly.
Pour the contents of the pot into the tofu block, the water should mostly drip through. A trick to make this easier is to scoop out the water from the pot and just leave the curds, but be careful not to break them. Try to make sure the curds are even in the block. Press the tofu in the block, use a pot full of water to hold it down and let it cool.

The shape wasn't perfect but it
tasted great and fresh!

Carefully remove from the block and serve.

It can also be turned into something like this.
Omg yum.
Big thanks to Mai Vy for teaching her old cousin some new tricks. Thanks to cậu Dat and mợ Lan for letting us make a mess of their kitchen as well as for a delicious dinner of Gỏi cuốn (Fresh salad rolls). Props to my cousin Ben for helping me squeeze out all the soy milk. This is the first of many recipes I will be looking to learn from my family to share with the world. Look forward to more in the future!
Mai Vy's home made human size Tofu Man.

we are family...


  1. are you going to post about the pho ga too? I hope so!

  2. Wow, this doesn't sound too hard (minus the part where you make the tofu block). It seems a lot like making Greek yogurt. It's great that you got to carry on your grandmother's legacy.

  3. @sarah
    It was quite a surprise how 'easy' it is. Perhaps easy to learn, difficult to master would be fitting in this situation?

    Like Greek Yogurt? Do you have a recipe for that?

  4. Yes, siree, just make natural yogurt. Then drain it in cheesecloth overnight to thicken it. Voila, Greek yogurt.