Yesterday (Friday) I spent the day helping out at ’Inaka-Jiman’ (I guess this could be trans;lated to English as 'rural pride').
In conversation I might loosely refer to Inaka-Jiman as 'the local tofu factory'. In reality it is a very small scale business, using only local produce and fresh ingredients, run exclusively by women, which produces various other things depending on the season (such as miso, rakyo (miniature shallots) pickles, umeboshi, shiso, etc).
Yesterday morning, however, was very much tofu-focused. Each week, three mornings are spent making tofu.
The tofu in Japan is - to me at least - a completely different product compared to the tofu sold in English supermarkets. And the process of making it is not all that complicated.
First, the beans are boiled and pulverised (left).
Then, the liquid (soy milk) is separated from the solids (okara) (left).
(Okara is a brilliant ingredient in vegan and vegetarian cooking. Roasted and mixed with miso, it has a good savoury taste. Fried with spices it's a great addition to curries. In theory it works well in veggie burgers etc but I can never be bothered to make those so I have no idea how true this is.)
Then, 'nigari' is added to the soymilk. This is a product made from seaweed that ensure that the soymilk sets properly. After just 20 minutes, you have 'youse-dofu' - soft, warm tofu.
This is then pressed for a further 20 minutes to make a harder tofu product (left).
After making the tofu, we went to deliver it to various shops in the area. It also gave us a nice excuse to have a tofu lunch at a sushi restaurant in Ena city - photo below! 5 varieties of tofu, plus sushi. Mm.