I thought I’d right a short post on making your own tofu, it’s a totally different beast from the shop bought stuff and can be genuinely delicious.
I was working with fresh tofu for a new dish, which in the end I didn’t think was ready yet, I might come back to the dish and change it/ work on it in the future or it or it may never get re-visited. Don’t get me wrong it was pretty delicious but particularly as I work on my next book I’m setting a high standard for the dishes that are going to make it in there. So even thought the whole dish was a lot of work both in development and preparation, its not making the cut for the book as it is (but I think its important to be pretty strict in self editing).
However I really liked the fresh homemade tofu, especially when then marinated in cold pressed sesame oil with smoked salt and lemon zest. (I tested a variety of marinades and also smoked different homemade tofus with a variety of flavoured smokes too, but the sesame oil marinade was my favourite - it adds a light nitty flavour which I liked).
I’d highly recommend making your own tofu if you have never tried it or if you are dubious about how delicious tofu can be, its a real eye opener.
The recipe I’m going to give you is for a slightly lemon flavoured tofu, then marinaded in cold pressed sesame oil, with smoked salt and lemon zest. This is delicious lightly fried in a dry pan (so it cooks just in the oil it is marinated in).
The picture above is the dish that didn’t quite make the cut for the book (but the tofu was delicious!) All of the elements (listed bellow) were lovely, but for me the dish as a whole just didn’t quite cut it. Lemon and Thyme Tofu Cadamon Scented Dashi Sweetcorn Panna Cotta Smoked Lemon Zest Powder
This tofu recipe though I’m really pleased with -
Recipe - Lemon Tofu
350g Organic Soy Beans 1125ml Water - for Soaking the Beans 1200ml Mineral Water - for Cooking 4 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice (for traditional tofu use 2 1/2 tsp Niagri instead) 300ml mineral Water - to mix with lemon Juice
Soak 350g of soy beans in 1125ml water overnight
Blend the beans in their soaking water until as smooth as possible.
Now heat 1200ml of mineral water to the boil in a large pan. Then add the soybean puree into the boiling water.
Now bring the liquid back to a simmer, then drop the temperature and continue to cook for 10 mins on a low heat. Strain this mixture into a container through muslin cloth collecting the soy milk liquid which pours through the cloth.
Now mix 4 tablespoons of lemon juice into 300ml water (for a traditional tofu you would use 2 1/2 tsp dried Niagri). Reserve this to one side for the moment.
Heat the fresh soy milk in pan to approximately 70C. Then remove the pan from the heat and stir the soy milk to create a whirlpool.
Now slowly pour in half of the lemon juice and water mixture. Then stir milk in the opposite direction, again creating a whirlpool, and pour in other half of the lemon juice mixture.
Cover over the pan and leave it to sit for 15 minutes. The soy milk will split into curds and whey (very similar to making paneer if you have made that from scratch before)
Note - the light foam on the top of the liquid, very similar to the texture/form of an ‘Air’ - this is due to the natural presence of lecithin in soy milk. Soy lecithin is a really useful emulsifier and also one of the things we can use to make stable, light, foams and ‘airs’. Now strain the split soy milk through muslin to collect the curds.
Wrap these curds up in muslin and place in vestle – (a tub or colander) with holes in the bottom, then place a heavy object on top of the wrapped tofu and leave it to drain for at least 1 hour.
Then carefully unwrap the tofu and gently rinse it in cold water.
Then I like to break the tofu into chunks and place it in a bowl then sprinkle it with a good pinch of smoked salt. Add the zest of one lemon then finally pour over just enough cold pressed sesame oil to cover the tofu. This gives the tofu some seasoning and flavours it with more lemon, smokiness and nuttiness from the oil.
These pieces can be stored like this in the fridge then removed and pan fried in a dry pan for a minute or so on each side.
This dish is taken from my next book which should come out this spring or early summer. Its built from a mix of traditional and innovative new ideas.
The Tofu is marinated in a simple, traditional, japanese dashi before being cooked as a tempura. To create an incredibly light crisp batter some of the water in the batter is substituted with vodka (which evaporates out much more quickly during cooking), the batter also includes methylcellulose F50, which forms an oil impermeable film in the batter (so the tofu steams inside the tempura and doesn’t absorb any oil or become greasy), finally the whole batter is carbonated in a cream whipper to create an incredibly light airy batter which turns out crisp and glassy once cooked.
The sour cucumber fluid gel is fresh and sharp with very clean flavours, it acts as the sweet and sour element in the dish, provides vibrancy and mimics the use of cucumber in fish dishes (here the flavour of the sea comes from the use of seaweeds).
Finally the whole dish is finished and seasoned with a Seaweed Ash, this is something I haven’t seen anyone else do before and I was really pleased with as a finishing touch for the dish. Incinerating the dried dulse seaweed to ash keeps its delicate flavour of the sea and slight saltiness whilst giving you a beautiful, unique new product to season the whole dish and provide the final flavour of the sea.
Sour Cucumber Puree 600g Cucumber Juice 120g Caster Sugar 8g Citric Acid 8g Ascorbic Acid 7g Agar Agar
Juice the cucumbers to obtain 600g fresh cucumber juice. Immediately mix the ascorbic and citric acid into the cucumber juice, followed by the sugar. Separate out 300g of the cucumber juice into a pan, whisk in the agar and gently heat to a simmer whilst stirring. Hold the mixture at a simmer for three minutes then remove from the heat.
Now off the heat slowly pour the cold cucumber juice which was set to one side into the hot juice in the pan. Stir and then pour out into plastic containers to set in the fridge.
Once the gel has set use a stick blender to blend it to a smooth puree.
Reserve in a squeeze bottle Marinated Tofu 240g Plain Tofu 1 Stick / 12g Kombu 50g Dried Shittake 500 ml boiling water 1 teaspoon dried thyme 80g Tamari 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Combine the kombu, shitake, thyme, tamari and vinegar in a bowl. Pour over the boiling water and leave to infuse for 2 hours.
Strain the dash and cut the tofu into 3cm cubes. Marinade the tofu cubes in the dashi at least 24 hours before cooking. The Tempura Batter 100ml Methylcellulose Slurry (Made by blending 3g methylcellulose in 200ml boiling water then stirring until it cools and thickens - store excess in the fridge) 85ml Vodka 125g Plain Flour 2 teaspoons Chinese 5 spice Pinch Dried Chilli A good pinch of salt Mix all the liquids together and stir well. Combine the flour with the spice and salt in a bowl. Now whisk the liquid into the flour until smooth. Strain the batter to remove any lumps. Pour into a cream whipper and charge with two co2 chargers. Chill if the fridge. Ideally for arround two hours Heat deep frying oil to 190C. Place pieces of tofu first into flour and coat. Shake off excess flour. Spray some batter out of the whipper into a bowl. Dip the tofu into the batter then drop in the fryer, cook 2-3 mins until crispy. Drain off excess oil on paper towel.
Seaweed Ash Burn Dulse seaweed with a blow torch in a bowl until it no longer flames but just glows read.
Allow to cool, carefully place the ash in a spice grinder and powder, store in an airtight container
Plating up - Dot cucumber purée arround the plate, Place a few of the tofu tempura arround the plate. Finish by sprinkling over the seaweed ash