You know tofu. You might even be one of the misguided folk who think of it as bland or – we don’t even like to say it – boring (btw if this is you, you’re doing it wrong). But do you know tofu’s cooler cousin, Kofu?
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
What is Tofu?
Tofu is that white stuff that comes in soft, slippery blocks. In essence, it is curds from coagulated fresh soya milk, strained and pressed. Tofu = soya beans + water + coagulant (such as magnesium sulphate or calcium chloride…more on these later).
Is Tofu Good for You?
This is an old debate that continues to rage on in vegan circles. Asking whether tofu is good for you is really asking whether soya is good for you, since tofu is minimally processed soya beans and shares much of its nutritional profile. That’s an issue we delve into here, but in short it’s fair to say YES. To quote the Association of British Dieticians (BDA):
“soya is a nutritious, safe and palatable part of the diet which fits well with healthy eating guidelines and may have multiple health benefits”.
So, what is Kofu?
Aha. This is where it gets interesting. In that little equation we included above, did you hesitate at the sight of the coagulants? Magnesium sulphate and calcium chloride don’t sound very natural and healthy, do they? Actually, they’re just types of salt (also known to home cooks as Epsom Salt, Gypsum and Nigari).
To coagulate soya into curds, you really just need a salt or an acid. The tofu adopts the nutritional value of the coagulant, which is why tofu is often high in either magnesium or calcium, depending which type of salt coagulated it.
Knowing that kombucha is acidic, and being massive fans of the delicious flavour and healthy properties of the stuff, we wondered whether it could be used as a super-coagulant to upgrade the digestibility and flavour of tofu. Turns out yes, yes it can.
OK, let’s talk about kombucha
Kombucha: sweetened black tea fermented into a carbonated, probiotic, slightly vinegary wonderdrink.
A symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (known as a SCOBY) digests the carbohydrate element in the sweetened tea and produces organic acids, gases (which make it naturally carbonated) and a whole load of probiotic bacteria.
Although the probiotic strains in Kofu are inactive (otherwise fermentation would continue in the package, which would result in exploding Kofu packs across the country), kombucha coagulated tofu is kinder on the digestion than that made with salts and other acids. The kombucha also contains acids such as glucuronic acid, which is highly soluble and known for aiding the elimination of toxins. Besides, kombucha has a unique, sharp and complex taste that lends itself beautifully to the flavour-sponge that is tofu.
How exactly is Kofu made?
Fermentation of kombucha and coagulation of soya into tofu are both ancient processes. We keep it simple with age-old methods and top-quality ingredients to produce kofu that’s worthy of centre stage on any foodie’s plate.
- We soften organic, GMO free soya beans in water for 8 hours, then grind them to a fine meal
- This soya meal then goes into a cooking tank for heating (to 110c, to be precise)
- When it’s back down to 97c, a roller separates the soya milk from the solids
- This is when we add kombucha (fermented on site) and transfer the mixture to the coagulation tube. The soya curdles, its protein forming small lumps
- Soya whey drips out first, we then sieve the tofu to remove the rest.
- We then put the Kofu into special moulds and press it to form the final product, whether that be kofu chunks, kofu sausages, kofu steak – you get the jist!
And that’s it! So now you know. Kofu, basically the cultured, tastier version of tofu. How do you like yours? Tag us in your #kofu creations, we’d love to see them! For inspo, find some mouth-watering kofu recipes here.