While I may be known for my meat-curing, dairy-loving ways, I really enjoy tofu. I blame college. I spent my college days at UC Santa Cruz, the vegan capital of the world. Vegetarian food was cheap and easy to find in Santa Cruz and tofu was the protein of choice. I also had a modern dancer for a roommate, so we frequently had tofu in the fridge. Since then, tofu has been a consistent ingredient in my cooking, from the usual stir-fries to marinated, BBQ-sauced slabs cooked on the grill. Tofu soaks up flavors, herbs and seasonings better than meats. And while Americans still seem to be wrestling with this Asian ingredient, I think making your own is the perfect antidote for mass processed food.
Tofu is not cheese in the traditional sense, but the process for making tofu is remarkably similar. DIY tofu is hot this year on the blog circuit. After reading many posts, I’ve adapted the process for the cheese maker, using several gallons of soy milk and all the usual equipment. With my cheese press, I was able to make extra firm tofu in 1 hour with an even, consistent texture. For the price of 1.5 lbs dried organic soy beans ($6), 3 tbs of nigari, the coagulant for tofu (10¢), I made 3 lbs of extra firm organic tofu. That’s only $2.10 a pound for high quality protein with no preservatives. Of course you can still make this without a cheese mold or press, by using a colander, plate and big can of tomatoes for the weight. The tofu will taste great, but the texture will be softer. Either way, this is a great project to try at home.