4 ounces (or a little more than a cup by volume) dried soybeans
40 ounces soy milk (not Silk or any other "carton" brand)
2 teaspoons epsom salt
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Blender (not food processor)
Strainer or colander
Cheesecloth or clean T-shirt material
Tofu mold (optional)
For this recipe, any small container between 8 and 12 ounce in volume that can have holes poked into it easily is suitable. Small lidded Styrofoam boxes or those plastic tubs that mushrooms sometimes come in are ideal. Simply poke drainage holes all over the bottom and sides. Otherwise sturdier wooden tofu molds and guidelines for making your own can be found online.
1. Rinse and cover soybeans in at least 2 inches of water, and soak for 2 to 3 hours or overnight. Beans should expand 2 to 3 times in size, and be pliable enough to chew easily. (If using store-bought soy milk, skip to step 6)
2. Drain soaked beans and add them and 36 ounces of water to blender and liquefy for 2 minutes or until perfectly smooth.
3. Transfer to a pot and simmer very gently for 10 minutes. Do not allow the liquid to boil. Skim any foamy scum from the surface.
4. Line a strainer or colander with cheesecloth or T-shirt, and place it over a large bowl or another pot. Carefully pour liquid through strainer.
5. Let gravity strain as much as possible, waiting about 10 minutes. When liquid is cool enough to handle, gather the corners and edges of cheesecloth/T-shirt, and squeeze out any remaining liquid. You should be left with a few ounces of a mealy paste that resembles Play-Doh. You should now have about 40 ounces of fresh soy milk in the large bowl or pot.
6. In a pot, heat soy milk very gently to about 180 degrees. If you don't have a thermometer, wait until thin wisps of steam barely begin to rise from the liquid. A thermometer is highly recommended, however.
7. In a cup, dissolve epsom salt in 1/4 cup of warm water. Once soy milk reaches 180 degrees, remove from heat, and little by little add the epsom salt solution, pouring all over the surface of the liquid to distribute evenly.
8. As you are adding the solution, with a rubber spatula, very gently stir the mixture once or twice, and small curds will form. Over-stirring will negatively affect the tofu's texture.
9. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then carefully pour mixture through either a tofu mold or strainer lined with cheesecloth/T-shirt material.
10. Gently press out excess water, then neatly fold excess fabric atop the curds, and weigh down, to further expel excess moisture until desired consistency is reached--with this recipe, a 1-pound weight and 10 minutes results in firm tofu. To weigh down the curds, cut out or otherwise fashion a relatively rigid lid (plastic, cardboard) that fits snugly inside your mold. Then use a can of soup for example as a weight. Alternatively, you can fill a plastic bag with dried beans, and sort of mold this weight to fit atop your tofu mold.
11. Carefully remove from mold or strainer, unwrap and eat immediately (sauce recipe below). Tofu can be stored in water, changed every day, for about a week. It does not freeze well (gets spongy).
Korean-Style Tofu Sauce
Mix together soy sauce, a little vinegar (rice wine or white), a little sesame seed oil, minced garlic, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes and chopped scallions.