Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Making Homemade Tofu :o)

Hiyayakko...Cold Tofu...

I've been dragging again getting my blog posts out. We took a mini-vacay a couple of weeks ago for my birthday and spent time in Lake Tahoe & San Francisco.  It was a very romantic and relaxing getaway for us.  We stayed at the new Ritz Carlton in North Tahoe, I'm so lucky that Hubby always treats me to the best! For my b-day dinner we ate in the hotel at Traci Des Jardins' restaurant..what a fab meal!!  Then last weekend we went to a beautiful wedding in Morro Bay.  It's really nice to be able to drive to so many great places in California :o)  I'll be posting about the trips at a later date...

On to the food...  I've been making homemade tofu and loving it!  It seems that I get little "signs" sent to me and then it hits me hard and I pursue whatever it is.  I've always loved tofu, but never thought of making it at home.  It seemed like it would be too much of a pain.  I do remember my mother making it, but she made a softer version and didn't go through the same process that I have been.  

My first "sign" was that we were at a local Japanese restaurant called Robata Jinya and they served a soft/silken tofu that was made at the table!  I was fascinated by this.  They place a cone shaped container on the table and then pour hot soy milk into it and then add another liquid and then it sits for about 10 mins and the soft tofu is made!  It was so delicious, they serve it with soy sauce and some other condiments.  I was very curious how this was made and they told me they just add Nigari to it.  I'd never heard of this, Nigari, it turns out that it is just Magnesium Chloride and is a coagulant to make the tofu.  

Link to Robata Jinya...

My second "sign" was that my father-in-law sent me an email about an American student at Washington University in St. Louis (his alma mater) that makes tofu.  My FIL thought it would be of interest to me since I've been blogging about food.  The article was very interesting since they had photos of the step by step process. 

Article from St. Louis...

After all this I was on a mission to make tofu at  At first I thought I could just buy the soy milk, but then I learned that the store bought stuff may be fortified with calcium, other vitamins, salt & sugar, so I figured out I need to make the soy milk myself.  You can just soak, cook, process on the stove top, but I decided that getting a Soy Milk Maker would be the easiest way to go.  I thought that I would be able to pick up all the components at the local Japanese market, but no, not many people make tofu at home.  I couldn't find the mold and they only had one type of soy maker at the store.  When I asked for Nigari, everyone at the store looked at me funny and they finally pointed me to the Health Food section (people use this as a dietary supplement).  I was able to find liquid Nigari and the woman in that section asked me why I would want to make tofu, it's such a   I was also able to get the dried soy beans at the store, but the rest of the stuff I bought through Amazon.

Soy Milk Maker

You just soak the beans at least 6-7 hours or overnight then throw it in the maker with some water and the soy milk is done in about 15 mins.  The bad thing about the maker is that it makes small batches, so I need to make 2 or 4 batches to make a decent amount of tofu.  I originally made it with 2, but decided the tofu was too small, so I've been making it with 4.

I don't like to drink Soy Milk, but Hubby likes to put it in his coffee. It's great when I don't have any regular milk in the house and then I can whip up some soy milk in 15 mins to add to his coffee.  I'm not much of a coffee drinker, so maybe it would be good in my tea.  The machine can also make Almond Milk and others like that.  I haven't tried it yet.  I read on another blog that hot soy milk is really good, maybe I should try it like that...


This is the mold, material to strain the tofu & dried soy beans.  The holes on the mold are for the liquid (whey) to come out from the tofu.

More Stuff...

I got liquid Nigari from the store, but the crystallized Nigari came with the mold.  I've been using the crystallized version.

Innard of the Soy Milk Maker...

This is the inside of the Soy Milk Maker. A metal cover covers the blade...

The Blade...

It's very important that that metal cover is used during the soy milk making process.  I learned this the hard We had gone out to a nice dinner and I was wearing a new black lace dress.  When we got back, I thought I'd make the soy milk that evening and then make the tofu in the morning.  I started the machine and went into the other room. During the chopping phase, it seemed that the machine was making a louder noise than usual.  I went to check it out and foam was oozing out, so I stopped the machine and peeked into it and it seemed like it was ok, so I restarted it. BAD mistake!  As soon as I started it, it started making the awful noise and this time the soy milk spurted out in one big splash all over my new dress!  I was lucky that I didn't get burned, luckily, the cleaners were able to get the stain out ;o)  It turned out that I forgot to put that metal cover on, it protects both sound and confines the soy beans as it gets chopped.  I won't be making that error again!  Another time the machine was making a loud noise and since I learned my lesson from the past, I turned it off and looked inside.  This time the cover had gotten loose.  You can always learn from your mistakes ;o)

1st Strain...

After the soy milk is made, it needs to be strained.  This is the strainer that came with the machine.


This is what's leftover after straining.  It's called Okara in Japanese and can be eaten.  I haven't figured out how to cook the Okara and I never liked it when I was a kid, so I've just been throwing it out.  I gave some to my mom and she loved it, she now wants me to freeze it and save it for her :o)  Some people even make "diet" cookies out of it. That will be my project in the future...

2nd Strain...

In the simple instructions that came with the soy maker, they just tell you to strain the soy milk once with the strainer that came with the machine.  My first couple batches of tofu came out super grainy.  Finally, a light went off in my head...strain the soy milk through a cheese cloth too....duh!

Heating the Soy Milk...

The soy milk comes out hot from the maker, but after the 4th batch it does cool down.  I reheat to just under 200 degrees.

After adding the Nigari...

For 1 cup of Dried Soy Beans, I mix 1 tsp of Nigari in 1 Cup of hot water.  For 2 cups of Dried Soy Beans, I  mix 2 tsps of Nigari in 1 Cup of hot water too.  

When adding the nigari, you shouldn't stir too much or too hard or too gently or it just really doesn't  I keep reading all different ways of adding it.  They also say to add just part of the Nigari and check it after 1 min and add more if you need it.  I came to the conclusion that you just stir the milk a little and then add all the nigari mixture, cover it off heat and wait 16-20 mins.

Separating the Curds & Whey...

After 16 mins I use a strainer and throw out most of the liquid/Whey...

Prepping the Tofu Mold...

During the waiting phase of the curds & whey separating, I prep the mold.  I just wet both the wooden mold and the straining material.  My sister-in-law in Japan read that over there, some people just cut holes into a container that store bought tofu used to be in and uses that as a mold, makes sense huh!   You just have to make sure that the holes of the mold are at the bottom, so that the liquid can leach out.

Bean Curds in the Box...

The curds are ladled into the mold then covered by the cloth...  Be sure to do this in the sink because the liquid comes out from the bottom.

Such a Pretty Box...

The top of the mold is put in place...

Weighing Down the Tofu...

I press down the top and then weigh it down with whatever is on hand.  You control the firmness of the tofu by how hard you squeeze down on the curds.  I seemed to make it too hard my first few tries and now press it medium firmness.  The harder you press, the firmer it will be. It's a trial and error thing...

Freshly Done!

Done after pressing for 15 mins.  It all seems to be 15 mins cycles.  You need to be careful when you take it out of the mold and peel it away from the cloth, it's both hot and fragile.  This one is 2 batches of soy milk (1 cup of dried soy beans), I've been making double this lately.

Cooling Down...

It's placed in cold water to cool it down.  Some people like to eat the tofu warm.  Also, the term Nigari means bitter, so I also read that you want to change the water several times, so that the tofu is not bitter.  I haven't had any problems with the tofu being bitter.  The only problems I had was getting the right texture.  My biggest problem was when the tofu was grainy...yuck, and I figured out that I just needed to strain the soy milk twice :o)

So Clean & Pure...

I cool it down for about 15-30 mins in water then store the tofu in fresh water in the refrigerator.  I read that since there are no preservatives in this tofu, it will only last a day or two, but I find that it's fine even after a week!  I've had tofu that has gone bad in the past and you KNOW when it's bad...

Cold Tofu w/Bonito Flakes, Green Onions, Ginger & Soy Sauce

Traditional Japanese Cold Tofu is served with Bonito Flakes, Green Onions, Ginger & Soy Sauce, it's called Hiyayakko. Nowadays, people are adding many other ingredients such as corn, kimchi, wakame etc.  I like it the traditional way ;o)

I guess the question is, "Is it worth it to make homemade tofu?".  For me, it takes about 2 1/2 hours not including the soaking time of the beans.  Most of the time is waiting, so yes, for me, it is worth it.  I think it does taste better than store bought, but it also can be wishful  It's not a night and day difference, but I'm still having fun making the fresh tofu.  I still can't figure out how to make the soft tofu that I had at that restaurant.  It seemed so simple, but I just can't make it happen at home!


  1. Great post. Glad y'all had fun on your vacation.

  2. oh my goodness this is so awesome! i have to make this one day oh the waiting. Its like bread making I'm too much of an instant satisfaction chef. Hence mostly savory cooking but i think I'll put my patience cap on one of these days. It looks too good to pass up. Thanks for sharing!

  3. That's pretty awesome! I LOVE that you make homemade tofu! Folks constantly ask me why I make my own bread and gives one satisfaction...and it's SO good!

  4. I am in awe and love this. I need to read all the other links you had too- this is so interesting!! This tofu looks amazing, I love love fresh tofu- its almost like ice cream its so good. Great job Kay!!

  5. This is just...amazing! I would love to learn how to make tofu!

  6. Sugoi!!!! I'm truly impressed. It's so hard to find "delicious" tofu here. There's a famous San Jose Tofu store but that's pretty much only one around here. When I was growing up there was a tofu store, but now those stores are all gone replaced by supermarket. I enjoy every step-by-step explanation and photos. You threw Okara away?! Noooo! I love Okara but can't get good one here so I haven't made it for a long time. I'm curious about this Robata Jinya - should check it out when we go to LA. What a great post! So, winter time, waiting for your Yudofu post. It must be so good... you should have yudofu party!!

  7. Thanks, Christine :o)

    Kimberly, it was worth the wait, but I know what you mean...I don't like baking because of the wait;o)

    Ann, it really does make a difference taking the extra time to make certain stuff like bread & stock :o) I still want to make the whole wheat bread that you posted about.

    Lindsey, you are too funny about the comparison to ice

    Thanks, Samantha, I really appreciate that you visited my blog :o)

    Nami, thank you! It's sad that even in Japan there are fewer and fewer tofu shops. I did feel bad about throwing the Okara away, too bad you don't live near by and I could have given it to you ;o) The rest of the food at Robata Jinya was good, but not great. I'd want to just go back for the tofu, they do have a huge variety in other foods and the ramen was good. I love Yudofu, especially in Kyoto!

  8. Good to know..and your pictures illustrate it so well!

  9. Oh Dear! That's sooo coool!
    I wanna make one too now! I think, as per your last question, it certainly worth making your own (I always try so).
    Great to hear you've been having sweet trips to California!

  10. That is absolutely awesome and your instructions are perfect. Step by step and with all of your hints and tips makes it seem like anyone could make it...yet I am still scarred.

  11. Amazing post and glad to know that you'd an enjoyable Bday celebration cum mini-vacay! You're really a blessed woman, Kay! ;)
    Home-made tofu really takes a lot of patience and time but it's really worth the wait when you get the final product. It's the satisfactory feeling that's making it worth! ;D
    Lucky that you have the Soy Milk Maker, otherwise it'll probably takes more than 2.5hrs! :o
    Yummy Japanese Cold Tofu I love! Esp those bonito flakes, my hubby and I love to just eat it on its own... lol
    Hope you're having a great day! ;)

  12. How cool is homemade tofu! Wonderfully done, and your photos are beautiful! Nicely done!

  13. That looks so awesome. I can't believe your making your own tofu. I love cold tofu made that way it's how my mom does it. Great post.

  14. That fresh tofu looks so delicate and delicious, Kay! Sometimes I buy freshly made pandan flavored tofu in a dessert preparation with some gingered simple syrup and coconut milk. It's sooooo good.

  15. OMG! This post blew me right off my socks!! You’ve made your own tofu! I need that tofu machine!!! You can tell I’m quite exited about his post =)
    I love tofu and been waiting to learn how to make the soft silken tofu so I can have it for dessert. Maybe you’d like to make the stuff tofu dish I just post on my blog with your fresh tofu. Would be awesome!

  16. Love this post. I have always thought about making my own tofu - nice to see the process laid out step by step.

    The last photo is particularly gorgeous!

  17. AMAZING!!! I am so impressed that you made tofu from scratch! What a beautiful post! I loved the step by step instructions, tips and pictures!!! Thanks!!!

  18. Wow, I am really impressed you took the trouble to make your own tofu. It must be delicious though and totally worth it. I love yudofu and homemade tofu is probably the best kind of tofu for that. I did not realize there is such a contraption for making soy milk. Will have to check it out.

    Your hiyayakko looks absolutely delicious! I can never get enough of tofu! :)

  19. Hi Kay,

    You keep impressing me with your writing, your camera skills, and now the homemade tofu. Wow. I appreciated that you took such care to take step by step pictures, showing us the implements and ingredients you used. I didn't realize that there were tofu-making tools available through Amazon, but then I'm not surprised because they pretty much have everything.

    The finished dish looked so amazing and delicious. I know your husband loved eating your dish, and it's also a tribute to your mother that you continued a family tradition of making tofu. Happy Birthday, belatedly, and keep impressing us with your wonderful posts.

    Pescetarian Journal

  20. Homemade taufu!! That is SOO COOL! Love the step-by-step pictorial! I apppreciate your effort.

  21. Thank you Sandi :o)

    Thanks Dr. P. :o)

    Rachel, no need to be scared to make It's a little time consuming, but not too hard ;o)

    Lyn, thanks always for your sweet thought :o)

    Thanks Sandra, it really is fun making the tofu :o)

    S.V., thanks for your kind words, cold tofu is the best!

    Thanks Sis :o)

    Lilly, it's nice to find someone so excited about tofu just like me :o) Thanks!

    Thank you Savory, I hope that you do try to make your own tofu too :o)

  22. Manu, it really means a lot to me to get complimented by you since you have the most beautiful blog and the best step-by-step instructions. Thank you :o)

    Biren, it really makes it so much easier having the soy milk maker. Making the tofu takes a little practice, but isn't too hard. Thanks!

    Alaiyo, thank you so much for your kind words :o) It really is amazing all the quirky things that you find on Amazon and then it gets shipped right to you!

    Thanks for visiting my blog Quay, I'm glad you enjoyed my post :o)

  23. You knocked my socks off with this presentation. I love tofu but never imagined i could make one at home. Thank you for this very helpful post.

  24. Thank you Alisa :o) I was very surprised on how easy it was to make tofu at home too!

  25. Can't be grateful enough that someone shared their knowledge at Tofu-making =)

  26. Cant believe you made tofu at home.. And bought the soy milk maker, thats awesome :). And here i am writing about my super simple glutenfree cake :)). Love the pics, the writing, everything. You should keep writing!.

    1. Thanks Yildiz, it's pretty easy to make, now that I know the proper way of doing Thanks for the sweet comment, I'm finally working on another post, we'll see how long it take me to finish it!

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