I did it ! I made my own TOFU !!

Posted: May 29, 2011 in Family, Feel-Good, Food, Nostalgia, Vegetarian
Tags: , , , ,

Big deal! So what?  That’s what you thought, eh?

If you like tofu (bean curd) like me, you will know why I’m making a fuss about it.  I know we can buy these ready packed, but the taste of homemade tofu surpasses that of any store-bought bean curds or tofu or tau-hu, as we called it in Hokkien. Tofu (or doufu) is the Mandarin word for bean curd, and is a popularly known word understood and used in the West.

How it all started

I had lunch one day with some colleagues at work, and our conversation, strangely enough, delved from bean sprouts to soy milk to bean curds. Yeah, somewhat beany conversation, but what the heck, I learnt something that day!

I have made soy milk many times, but not bean curds. I know there are loads of recipes on the net on how to make your own tofu.  I’m sorry, but the coagulant substance called gypsum (calcium sulphate) really puts me off.  Why?  Because gypsum is one of the main elements used in the making of cement. Yes, cement! You know – the binder – the substance that sets and hardens the walls of our homes? Although these additives used in making bean curds may be of food grade quality, but the thought of having gypsum in my tofu is way too bizarre. No, thank you!

Now, thanks to my colleague, I will share with you a gypsum-free tofu recipe. I made mine from scratch and using very basic kitchen tools and utensils. No miracle soy milk maker. The only miracle is vinegar!

You will need …

500g soy beans
3 to 4 litres Water (this is only an estimation)
White vinegar (I used Chinese wine vinegar)
Kitchen Blender
Clean kitchen towel
Cheese cloth (I used a clean muslin bag)
Plastic container as mould (where I drilled holes at the base of the container)


You need to soak the dry soy beans in room temperature water, preferably, overnight. After 8 to 10 hours, you will notice the beans swelling, doubling their original sizes.


Rinse the soy beans at least 2 times with clean tap water. At this stage, you will notice the skin of the beans will come off quite easily. Do NOT remove the skin.  I have made my soy milk with and without the skin intact, and trust me, your soy milk will taste more superior in flavour and texture, blended with the skin on. Much tastier and sweeter.

Blending or Wet Grinding

Scoop a handful or two of the swollen soy beans into a kitchen blender.  Add enough water and let the blender do the job or get a kitchen helper to assist, like me 😉

The reason for blending the beans with water is to process the soy milk.  Once you have finished blending the soy beans, place this is a big bowl.

Milk Processing and Cold Filtration

This is about the only time-consuming part of the entire process. You need to separate the insoluble residue from the milk.  I am more familiar with the cold filtration method, which is traditionally, Chinese (which I learnt from my shifu – mummy dearest).

Get a clean kitchen towel and ladle the milk.  Pass this through the kitchen towel and collect the milk and then transfer the milk into a clean cooking pot. Use your soul and energy to squeeze the towel to collect as much soy milk as possible.  What is left in the towel is the insoluble residue or soy pulp fiber, which you can either discard or make vegetarian burgers.  I discarded mine as I was not in the mood for vegetarian burgers. Maybe next time.  Because of the high content of protein in soy beans, a layer of froth or foam will be floating on the milk.  You need to remove the foam until you get clear soy milk.

Heating or Boiling

I had two cooking pots ready at the time, one to make the tofu and the other, the ‘bonus’. As that was the first time I made tofu, I was just being prudent, and used two thirds of the milk for tofu and the other third, for my bonus – right, my tau-hu chui (soy milk drink or beverage).  I always feel a tinge of nostalgia when sipping my homemade tau-hu chui – the Kuching Open Air Market re-visited. LOL!

Let the soy milk boil until about 80°C. Then let it cool down to about 40°C.

Coagulating or Curdling the milk

In fact making tofu is quite similar to making cheese. Once the boiled soy milk is cooled down to about 40°C, add 3 to 4 tablespoons of vinegar and stir really well until the soy milk is separated into small white curds. At this stage, allow the mixture to stand for 15 to 20 minutes.  You will notice the vinegar doing the job, by curdling the milk even more.

Firming the Tofu

Once the soy milk is separated into curds and whey, transfer the curds into a mould lined with cheese cloth.  I have neither a fancy cheese mould nor a cheese cloth, so I made my own mould from a plastic container. I drilled some holes at the base of the container, like so.

No cheese cloth?  No worries.  I used whatever was available in my house.  I found a muslin-type bag and it did the job wonderfully. Put some weight on the cloth and allow sitting for about 20 to 30 minutes.  You will notice the whey dripping through the holes. The longer you let your curd stand in the mould under a weight, the firmer it will get.

Seeing is Believing

Voilá! The end result.  My very first and successful homemade tofu.  If I can make it, I’m sure you can, too.

Okay, it’s hard work, but if you got the hang of it, I guess nothing else matters, if you’re craving for a DIY tofu.  Boy, am I proud of my achievement 😛

Simplicity at its Best!

I made this healthy and yummy tofu soup which became an instant hit with my guys. If you are wondering if it tasted vinegary from the vinegar, the answer is “NO”.

The versatile Soy Bean

Here’s my bonus.  Served hot or cold, with or without sugar does not matter. My favourite tau-hu chui, with no artificial flavours of vanilla, banana, chocolate or mokka, but  the real McCoy!  The way I like it.

Chin-Chin! CHEERS! 

By the way, how do you like your soy milk?

  1. gerard says:

    Hi Dora,

    Just for your info, mom, Rita, Yeo, Dada, Nie nie, and Bernard are at my house at this very moment. Love you blog on tofu, but we are all waiting for your new house…and some day we will visit you. That’s for sure.

    Take care

    Love Bro G.

  2. Nasifriet says:

    Thanks bro! I love my tofu post; too 😉 Soybeans are so versatile. Can do lots with these beans, and it’s so healthy. There’s also another one recipe that we can make, the tofu fa (silky soy custard served with sugar’d ginger syrup)

    Gosh; I wish I am there with you all. How’s the “big do” yesterday? Yeah, we’ve been busy searching for a new house. It’s not easy. A lot of criteria to assess… I’ll definitely keep you informed of the good news and we’re all looking forward to your visit. You must visit us…

    Hugs and God bless,

  3. Yechiel says:

    Thanks for remembering! I hope to try this soon.

  4. Yechiel says:

    …and please put the veggieburger recipe on… 🙂

  5. Nasifriet says:

    My pleasure… and do let me know the outcome 😉 I can already tell you that it tastes much better homemade

  6. Angel says:

    Great job! I’ve been buying a lot of tau hu lately to increase the protein in my diet *wink*… Since I eat tau hu in various forms everyday, I should try making it too eh?

  7. Nasifriet says:

    Yeah, Angel, you should. Tau hu is a womens’ diet, if you know what I mean. Soy is believed to have estrogenic properties…

    You can use lime juice as well (instead of vinegar), but have not tried it, so can’t vouch for the same end result.. Should you be using lime juice and not vinegar, do let me know the outcome 🙂

  8. Mimi says:

    Good for you Dora! Rajin kitak.

  9. Nasifriet says:

    Hey Mimi!

    Good to read you. Lamak sik blog tok. Still have to find time to write abt our summer hols . Will get there… SOON! How’s little Zen? Not so little anymore, I believe. He’s sooo.. cute. He has both you and J.


  10. ChrisChris says:

    Hi Nasifriet,

    Long time no “see”. 😀 Just want to wish you and your family Happy New Year. I took a long break from blogging last year and I just started up again. Moved “house” though from blogger to WordPress – http://simplepleasuresinourlives.wordpress.com/ Stop by sometime when you get a chance. 😀


  11. Nasifriet says:

    Hi Chris

    Yep, it’s been a while isn’t it? I haven’t updated by blog in the longest of time. Have been darn busy since my last blog (work-and home-front). Will update with more stories and news when I get round to my usual blogging pace, which is currently a snail pace 😦

    Ah, that’s why! I thought you went MIA. Good to know you’re on WordPress. Will definitely drop by.

    I hope you had a great start to 2012. I wish you and your family a happy, healthy and successful New Year!
    See you very soon.

  12. Chris says:


    Sorry to hear you’ve been so busy. Hopefully, it’ll ease up a bit this New Year. 😀 Enjoyed your tofu post…you know what it made me crave…tau hu hua! *grin*

    See ya,

  13. Nasifriet says:

    Thanks, Chris!
    You know what, I’ve tried making tau hu hua, but it was a flop 😦 A girlfriend taught me how to make it. The recipe came with “gypsum”, which I’m quite put off, as you can tell from my post. My friend makes it look so easy. Will give it another shot. If you have a good and quick recipe, lemme know, kay?

    C ya soon!

  14. Chris says:

    Hi Nasifriet!

    Gong Xi Fa Cai to you and yours. May the Year of the Dragon bring you happiness, health, luck, and good fortune. Did you make any CNY goodies this year? 😀


  15. Nasifriet says:

    You know, Chris, there seemed to be not enough hours in one day! I have tons of things to do in my mind, but all these slipped away when THE day arrived. I had wanted to try out your recipe “kuik bangkit” as it’s so CNY. But CNY or not, will definitely do it…one of these days :-)) Pls remind me… again ‘k?


  16. […] Or simply a bowl of clean healthy soup with cubed tofu and meatballs. And by the way, I made those tofu from scratch! You can check out how I made the soymilk the ‘traditional’ way (no soymilk maker then) and transformed the milk into soybean curd by using s secret ingredient here. […]

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