Culinary adventures: homemade tofu

Recently I stumbled upon a Japanese supermarket in my fair city, and apart from a couple of cans of tea (that's right, regular green tea... in a can, cold --truly disgusting) and some Japanese soda pop that I was happy to be unable to identify, I also bought a package of tofu.
Mind you, this wasn't the block of tofu-under-water that you might find at your local supermarket, it was two bags of white powder for making your own. I had the presence of mind to scribble down the instructions in my native tongue, which were displayed next to the product in the store. Had I not, I would be utterly clueless about what to do with this package (I'm sure it would have been spoiled before I mastered Japanese enough to read the instructions).
Like so many people who are easily bored, I have always wondered whether tofu already has that eerily mathematical cube shape when the tofu farmers pick it off the tofu tree. Or was it the tofu herders, chopping the limbs and heads of wild blocks of tofu roaming the Japanese foothills? But now I learned that tofu is actually a mix of two powders which are found inside the buds of the beautiful off-white tofu flowers (tofua asiatica), that grow all over South-East Asia.
That mystery solved, I boiled 650 ml of water (roughly 22 fl oz) mixed with the contents of the biggest package. As it started to boil, a skin formed on the top, reminding me of all those boxes of soy milk I'd seen at my local natural health store. It wasn't until I took the milk off the fire a few minutes later, added the tiny package and poured it into a bowl that I realized that I was simply making a pudding. Over the next 20 minutes, the pudding became solid... or so I thought. The recipe then called for the tofu to sit under water for 20 minutes. I made the fatal mistake of trying to transfer the tofu into another container, causing it to fall apart, just like a real pudding would. I added half of the sizable amount to my stir-fry, and I must confess that it was much more like the silky tofu served in Japanese restaurants than like the rubbery Borg cube found in the supermarket.
My plan is to make it again, but put it into all sorts of weirdly-shaped containers. It's a bad omen that after all these years of desperately trying to sell a healthy meat replacement, no marketing exec has come up with the idea of making more interesting tofu shapes than a block or a suspicious-looking burger.

Posted by cronopio at 01:31 PM, October 05, 2005