beige is the new black ::::
Early in our marriage, Eat and I were sitting in our living room with another married couple talking about our plans for the future. None of us had children yet, nor had we figured out our careers at that point. We were brainstorming, over wine, how we would balance a family and career.
“Well, you’ll be part-time,” Eat said with assurance.
“Excuse me?” I stopped him. I didn’t care that this suddenly private conversation was in front of our friends.
“Well, my mom stayed home, so I assume that you will. If you work, then you’ll be part-time,” he explained. This, after numerous discussions on my application to medical school, his knowledge of the sacrifice it would take to attend medical school and residency training, and the mountain of student loans afterwards.
“If I’m part-time, then you will be too.” I suggested, maybe too vehemently at the time.
Don’t ever make assumptions, people. Eat should have never assumed, just because of his upbringing, that I would stay home or be part-time. Concurrently, I shouldn’t have recommended that he would be part-time too. That was more a defensive suggestion. In retrospect, we actually both called it.
I’d love to be part-time (and am currently aiming for that in my new proposed contract), and so would he. However, our career choices don’t allow that option easily, though we strive to it. And the mountain of student loans’ valley in which we live, shadowing us from the shine of being totally debt free until we are senior citizens, is the largest obstacle.
Moral of the story? Don’t assume anything. Don’t assume that your black soybeans will make black tofu (it was more beige-gray). Don’t assume that your first homemade tofu recipe was the be-all end-all recipe (it wasn’t; the new tweaks were better). Don’t assume that even a tofu mold will give you perfectly set tofu the second go-round (I should have waited another hour to have firmer tofu). But do assume that the outcome is often what you did not expect.
- 10 ounces dried black soybeans
- filtered water
- muslin or thick cheesecloth
- nigari flakes (sea salts, magnesium chloride) – order at www.myworldhut.com OR use the pre-prepared nigari brine available at many Japanese grocery stores
- tofu mold (a friend gave me a Daiso brand mold - ?300 size)
- Special equipment: 16 quart pot
- In a large bowl, cover black soybeans with 3 inches of cold water (you don’t need the filtered water here). Cover and allow to sit overnight.
- Drain the soybeans and transfer to a blender. Don't be too disappointed when you realize that black soybeans aren't black inside, just greenish. Add 3½ cups of filtered water and puree at high speed until as smooth as possible.
- Line a large sieve with clean cotton napkin or 3 layers of cheesecloth and set sieve over a heatproof bowl. In a large pot (at least 3 quarts, or bigger), boil 3½ cups of filtered water. Add the soybean puree and boil over moderately high heat for 8 minutes, stirring constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula to prevent sticking and scorching.*
- Carefully pour the mixture into the prepared sieve. Let stand until just cool enough to handle, about 20-30 minutes. Gather the ends of the cheesecloth and squeeze to extract as much of the soy milk as possible; the remaining solids should be nearly dry. Discard the solids (give them to your neighbor's chickens!) and skim off any foam from the soy milk. You should have about 7 cups of soy milk. Stop here if you just want soy milk. I used 4 cups for the tofu, and drank the rest warmed with sugar.
- In a small measuring cup, dissolve 1 teaspoon nigari flakes in ¼ cup filtered water (this is what the original recipe said to do, not what I did -- I used 1 teaspoon pre-prepared brine to 3 tablespoons of filtered water). If using the flakes: spoon 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of the nigari solution into a large heatproof glass bowl. If using the pre-prepared brine: use the entire mixture (1 t brine + 3 T water).
- In a large saucepan (I washed and used the same pot from above), heat 4 cups of soy milk to 185 degrees F (I used an instant read thermometer and medium heat -- it didn't take long at all). Pour the hot soy milk into the bowl with the nigari solution and quickly stir but only to combine thoroughly. Cover and let stand undisturbed until fully set, 10 minutes. Stop here if you want silken tofu.
- Set the muslin-lined mold or other mold (i.e., plastic berry baskets; I used in previous attempts) with drainage over a bowl (see my photos), and spoon freshly made silken tofu into it.** Neatly fold the overhanging cheesecloth over the tofu and top with a light weight (a grapefruit worked for me) to gently press out excess water. I had a a little bit of extra that wouldn't fit into the mold, so I ate it as a silken tofu bite. Let tofu drain for at least 15 minutes or up to 2 hours***, depending on the desired firmness. Unwrap, and behold your beige-colored tofu. Soak in a bowl of water overnight in the refrigerator.
- Firm tofu can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, covered in water. The original recipe says to serve with black radish slices and soy sauce, or a miso glaze. I served with soy paste and freshly grated ginger.