Watch it Jiggle! Make Silken Tofu & Recipe for Kimchi Tofu Soup

Tray of freshly made silken tofu!

 

Earlier this year I finally mastered making firm tofu, which was awesome because it allowed me to eliminate more plastic packaging. But I also wanted to figure out how to make silken tofu, because I use that occasionally too, and I can only find it in plastic or Tetra Pak containers, which are a composite material with layers of plastic that is difficult to recycle. After some research, trial and error, I’ve finally figured out how to make silken tofu, and it’s crazy simple! This post will cover how to make silken tofu and my recipe for Kimchee Tofu Soup, something I love to order at our favorite local Korean restaurant. I just love the flavors of Korean food, which makes this post perfect for today’s VeganMoFo 2019 topic, A Cuisine that Inspires You to Travel.

Silken tofu is bascially soy milk custard. As when making firm tofu, you need to coagulate the soy milk. The difference is that you don’t separate the curds and the whey when making silken tofu, resulting in the smooth, silky, creamy texture you’re looking for. The key is temperature and which coagulant you choose.

My first trials included using epsom salts and nigari as the coagulants. And while the tofu set up beautifully, it tasted terrible as you never drain the coagulant out with the whey and epsom salts and nigari do not taste good—at all! I knew there had to be a better coagulant out there, so I did some more research and found Andrea Nguyen’s book, Asian Tofu: Discover the Best, Make Your Own, and Cook It at HomeShe suggested using gypsum as the coagulant.

So what is gypsum? Gypsum (calcium sulphate dihydrate) is a mineral composed of calcium sulphate (CaSO4) and water (H2O) formed under salt water millions of years ago, left behind when seawater evaporated. It is extremely common and abundant, mined from sedimentary rock all over the world, with large quarries throughout Europe. Gypsum has the great ability to bind substances together when rehydrated, which is why it is used as a primary ingredient in toothpastes, plaster, sidewalk chalk, and making tofu. It’s also the primary substance in wallboard with it’s ability to be shaped and molded. Gypsum is also used as a clarifier in beer, mead, and ponds as it binds to and settles particulates that can cause cloudiness. I found a packet of gypsum powder at an Asian market, and you can also purchase from Amazon, but I’ve since found that I can buy it in bulk from my local brew shop, Mt. St. Homebrew Supply, in my own container—win!

Gypsum powder from an Asian market

So here is the process for making silken tofu, using Andrea Nguyen’s process. You can get the ingredient amounts from her book or from this post on the Splendid Table website.

You need a container or several smaller containers to make your silken tofu in. They need to be heat-safe as you’ll be steaming them, hold a depth of 1-1/2 to 2 inches, and be easy to unmold when the tofu is done. I’ve found that Ball 4-ounce Quilted Crystal jelly jars are perfect for this because eight of them fit exactly in my bamboo steamer and I can put lids on them to store in the refrigerator later. You can use any kind of steamer basket, just as long as the containers don’t sit in the boiling water and you can cover it completely to enclose the steam.

Ingredients and supplies for making silken tofu, including (clockwise from the left) gypsum powder, cold soy milk, and a steamer your containers will fit completely into.

For ingredients, you need cool or cold soy milk, water, and gypsum. Don’t use warm or hot soy milk because your mixture will curdle and separate into curds and whey, like with making firm tofu.

You’ll combine the gypsum powder and water to make a slurry and mix thoroughly into your cold soy milk.

Adding gypsum slurry to cold soy milk

And then pour the mixture into your steaming containers. Get the water to boiling in your chosen steamer, place the jars in the steamer, and put the lid on it. If you have a solid lid, you may want to leave a little space to keep condensation from dropping down onto your steaming tofu, which may disrupt the process and cause it to curdle.

Steaming the silken tofu mixture in the bamboo steamer in my wok

Gently steam the tofu until it is set, about 6 to 10 minutes, depending upon the size of your container, depth of tofu in it, your steamer, etc. The tofu is done when it’s set like custard. Test this by inserting a pick—if it’s set, the hole will remain in the top of the tofu. It also jiggles when you slightly shake the container from side-to-side, and keeps together when you slightly tilt the jar and the custardy silken tofu slides down.

Testing silken tofu for doneness with a wooden pick. See the little holes remaining in all the tops of the containers?

Don’t worry if you steam it longer, a gentle steam won’t hurt it.

Remove the steamer tray and let the whole thing cool several minutes before removing the containers. Then set the containers of silken tofu on a tray to completely cool to room temp before putting the lids on and refrigerating.

Cooling steamed silken tofu

Perfect silken tofu! See how it holds together?

This fresh silken tofu will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. And it’s just delicious! You don’t taste the gypsum coagulant at all. The end product is sweet like soy milk and custardy, exactly what you want in silken tofu. It really is super easy, simpler, I think, than making firm tofu as you don’t have to strain off all the whey and press it. And because you aren’t removing the whey, you end up with a lot more end-product per amount of soy milk when making silken tofu. Use as desired in your favorite recipes, or try it in my Kimchi Silken Tofu Soup using homemade kimchi, vegetable stock, and vegan Worcestershire sauce too!

This post is Day 27 of VeganMoFo (Vegan Month of Food) 2019, with a new blog post every day for the month of August. Check out these other posts you may have missed from last week:

Day 21—Happy Vegan Campers & Recipe for Vegan Campers Stew You can be a zero-waste vegan camper!

Day 22—Wait, Don’t Throw Those Out! Radish Top Soup Another zero waste recipe for using the most nutritious part of the radish—the tops!

Day 23—I’m a Kid from the 70s—Vegan Raspberry Applesauce “Gelatin” Salad Before I was vegan, I didn’t realize how gelatin was made, but plant-based Agar Agar gave me an opportunity to recreate this favorite childhood holiday salad!

Day 24—Travel Snacks—Pam’s “Cocoa Puff” Chickpeas A sweet, crispy whole food, plant-based, oil-free snack recipe developed by my vegan friend and graphic designer!

Day 25—Vegan’s Restaurant in Prague & Tempeh Guláš Recipe An international travel post about Prague, Czech Republic with a recipe inspired from Vegan’s Restaurant we ate at while visiting.

Day 26—Get on the Boat, the Banana Boat! A Thompson family tradition, it’s like a S’more and a banana split had a baby!

 

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Kimchi Tofu Soup (Soondubu Jjigae)

This is one of my favorite things to order at our local Korean restaurant. It's hot and spicy with creamy hits of silken tofu. Perfect for a cold wintery day.
Course Lunch, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Asian, Gluten-Free, Korean, Whole Food Plant Based
Keyword kimchi, Soondubu Jjigae, Tofu
Author Cindy Thompson, Trimazing! Health & Lifestyle Coaching

Ingredients

  • ½ onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger minced
  • 1 tsp raw sesame seeds or several drops of toasted sesame oil, if not eating oil-free
  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 inch piece kombu
  • ½ tsp Korean chili flake (gochugaru) or gochujang sauce, more or less to taste
  • 1 cup kimchi
  • 1 ½ cup silken tofu

Instructions

  • Heat a wok to high. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and sesame seeds, and saute until soft and starting to brown. Add splash of vegetable stock or water if starts to stick.
  • Combine vegetable stock, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, kombu, and chili flake and add to cooked onion mixture. Stir well to release any pieces stuck to the bottom of the wok. Bring to a boil and simmer about 15 minutes to bring out the flavors of the kombu.
  • Add kimchi and stir. Let simmer a few minutes to heat through.
  • Add silken tofu and gently stir. You want large bite-sized chunks, so stir gently as not to break it down completely. Let simmer a few minutes to heat through.
  • Serve and enjoy! Terrific over hot rice.

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2 Comments

  1. Jill on March 27, 2020 at 2:57 pm

    Is there a substitute for kombu?

    • Cindy Thompson, Trimazing! Health & Lifestyle Coaching on March 27, 2020 at 3:20 pm

      I would add a different seaweed, like wakame, dulse, or even nori. You may need to add a bit more soy sauce or tamari to make up for the salt and the umami the kombu brings. Simmering some dried mushrooms with it will help with the umami too!

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