Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Lemon Tofu on Okara Crackers

Forget about bland tofu.  This lemon tofu is incredibly tasty with a great texture.  It reminds me of feta cheese but so fresh and lemony.  I made tofu for the first time a few days ago with lemon for the coagulant and it was so lovely -- a lemon scented tofu, so white and yummy -- so much fresher and more delicious than any I've had before.   It was fantastic in bokchoy ginger stir fry.  The tofu I made today is similar but it's tangy and full of flavor.  Spread it on a cracker or crumble it on a salad.
I wanted to try to create a spicy artisan tofu so I finally settled on lemon tofu again but this is a total lemon flavor zing --  more more more.  The lemon scent in the regular tofu was so nice I just wanted to kick it up.  I had to make a run to the store to get some Himalayan pink salt.  If you haven't tried that salt look for it but regular salt will do too.  I still had enough lemons in the frig.  Himalayan salt really makes a difference in the flavor of foods.

Thinking of this recipe reminds me of some preserved meyers lemons I used to make 15 years ago.  We had a tree so I'd slice up a whole lot of them and layer them in a bowl with lots of kosher salt between each layer. Put a plate on it and some weights and set it aside till it kinda dehydrates for a week and a lot of the lemon juice evaporates.  Then pack it in jars and fill with olive oil.  Keep it in sealed jars for a few weeks and then you can use it as a condiment.  So this tofu is inspired by that.

You'll need a cooking thermometer, a colander or sieve,  some rubber gloves, a big pot, a big bowl and some cans to use as weights - plus a piece of muslin or other cloth for straining.  You'll also need a small bowl to use as a mold and of course soy beans, lemons and salt.  I assume you don't have a tofu press because I know I don't and I have a lot of stuff.  So I use a small bowl and some heavy tomato cans.

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups organic soy beans rinsed and then soaked overnight in 4 1/2 cups water.
6 cups of water
1/4 cup of lemon juice plus more for squeezing
1 tablespoon pink Himalayan salt plus 1/2 teaspoon
grated lemon rind from 2 whole lemons

  1. Put a big soup pot on the stove to boil with 5 cups of the water in it.
  2. In the blender or food processor blend the soaked soybeans and soaking water in batches for a full minute for each batch. Add to the big pot.
  3. Stir gently and constantly with a wooden spoon till it almost boils (or just begins to start to boil) again.  It will foam like crazy so keep stirring in the foam.  The foaming is why you need such a big pot.  Sprinkle it with cold water if it starts to boil over.  Once it's almost boiling turn down the heat enough to keep it under a boil and stir for 8 minutes while it cooks. 
  4. Line a colander or sieve with muslin.  The muslin has to be big enough to hang over the sides.  Put the colander over a big bowl to catch the soy milk.  Ladle the bean mixture into it.  Gather up the sides of the muslin and twist it a lot.  Twist towards the bean pulp and that squeezes out the soy milk.  Use rubber gloves to handle it because it's hot.  Even with the gloves it's too hot for me. Do the best you can to compress the bag of hot pulp as much as possible till all the soy milk is squeezed out into your bowl.  Try using the bottom of a jar or potato masher to squeeze and compress it against the sides of the colander.  Good enough.  Now you have fresh soy milk in your bowl -- voila.
  5. Rinse out your big pot and add the soy milk back to it.  
  6. Heat up the soy milk with the thermometer in it till it just reaches between 150 and 155 degrees.  Then take it off the heat.
  7. Mix 1 cup of fresh water with 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice.
  8. With your wooden spoon ready pour in 1/2 of the lemon/water mixture into the 150 degree soy milk and stir 5 or 6 times in a big circle in the pot then stop with the spoon standing straight up in the liquid and wait a second or two for the soy milk to stop moving.  Add the rest of the lemon/water mixture and stir in a figure eight 1 or 2 times till it starts to curdle.  Stop stirring. Put the lid on it and let it rest for 15 minutes.
  9. Rinse out your big bowl and set up the colander with muslin lining over the bowl to be ready.
Find a small bowl with straight sides or anything you want to mold the tofu in and find a flat lid that fits down into it.  The lid should have a little space all around it.  You'll be rigging up a tofu press and the space around the lid is where the whey drains out when you turn it upside down.  The tofu has to be molded, drained and compressed all at the same time.  If you mold it in the colander it's easier because you can set your weights right on top of the colander but I wanted to mold mine in something with straight sides.  This is how I rigged it up with tomato cans as weights:
The upside down glass bowl in the middle has the tofu in it wrapped in muslin.  The lid that sits inside the bowl is just peeking out in dark blue.  The white bowl on the bottom is just any old bowl to catch the whey when it drains off.  The tomato can on the bottom and top are pressing the tofu.

12.  After it sits for 15 minutes spoon about 1/4 of the the curds into the muslin lined colander or sieve in layers, then add 1/4the of the salt and 1/4 of the grated lemon rind.  Repeat the layers till it's all in.  Gather up the sides of the muslin and ever-so-gently move it over to the mold.  Wrap the muslin over the curds in layers, put on the lid that fits down into the mold.  Set a big can in the bowl that will catch the whey as it drains out.  As you hold the lid on with turn your mold over and balance it on the can.  The whey will drain out into the bowl.  Put another big can or two on top and let it sit for 15 minutes to drain.

13.  Rinse your big bowl and fill it with cold water in the sink.  Gently start to unwrap and -- easy does it, lift or kind of turn out the tofu with muslin into the water and gently unwrap it while it's being supported by the water.  The purpose of being so careful is to get it in the water and to keep it from breaking.  Move the muslin away gently and set the tofu free floating in the water.  Mine was really fragile at this point but I managed to get it free into the water without breaking it.

14.  For 15 minutes let water run cold into the bowl near but not touching the tofu.  I put a corner of muslin over part of the bowl so the water would not hit the tofu.




To serve it or move it to a container without breaking it, try scooping the container down into the big bowl it's chilling in and floating it into the container.  The cool water supports it a little bit to help keep it from breaking.  Once it's safely in it's container, put some salted water with a squeeze of lemon in into the bowl

Slice it and try it on crackers with a drizzle of olive oil.  This is so delicious.  So tangy and fresh.  Soy has a glycemic index of 15 so you won't be hungry for hours.  


 OKARA CRACKERS
These crackers are so irresistible.  Okara is the bean pulp left over from making soy milk.  The flavor in these comes from a little bit of sesame oil, whole wheat flour and salt.  Okara is very appetizing and can be used in lots of ways.  I made these crackers and a good vegetable soup out of it.   I left these crackers out on the counter and they are dissappearing fast.  They are a low glycemic food soy is 15 and whole wheat flour 35 and sesame oil is 0.
 


1 cup okara
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt, plus more
4 Tablespoons toasted Sesame oil
Water
  1. Put okara, whole wheat flour, sesame oil and salt in a small bowl and mix it with a fork till it's blended.
  2. Add some water and stir until you can gather it into a ball.
  3. Knead it about 6 to 10 times with flour as needed to keep it from being sticky.  Cut it into little 1" blocks.  
  4. Flour your work surface and roll the little pieces in flour.  With a rolling pin or glass jar roll them out flat in one direction on a floured surface and flip them a couple of times as you roll so they form long narrow strips of thin dough.  Use plenty of flour on your rolling surface to coat them and keep them from sticking. 
  5. Put them one layer deep on an ungreased cookie sheet and salt them.  Note:  They did not stick to my cookie sheet.  If you think they are going to stick make sure they are well dredged in flour
  6. Put them in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour turning them every 20 minutes.  Then take them out.  They should be puffed a bit, really crispy, totally dried out and crunchy and not at all flexible or chewy.  If they are a little bit chewy put them back into the oven at 200 degrees till they are crisp -- 1 to 2 hours as needed.  Turn them every now and then.  I had to bake for an additional 2 hrs at 200 degrees to get mine nice and crunchy.

Spread the lemon tofu on these crackers.  Crumble the tofu into a little bowl with a little olive oil, fresh ground black pepper, salt and a squeeze of lemon juice and spread it on the okara cracker.  I think it's a little like feta cheese when you put extra lemon juice on it.

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