Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Lazy Wednesday

This morning brought a little bit of a much needed adventure. The last few months have been full of the humdrum of everyday life. So, when the San Francisco Professional Food Society posted a meeting and tour of the Hodo Soy Beanery in Oakland, I jumped at the chance. It was even on a Wednesday! That never happens!

Making tofu, as it turns out, is very similar to cheese. The first step is to re-hydrate dried soybeans (Hodo uses only organic, non-GMO beans), mash them up, and "cook" them in very hot water. The result is soy milk.

Once the soy milk is drained off, the pulp must be emptied out. Hodo sells this to hog farmers in the area since there is still a great deal of nutrition left in the shells, etc.

The now warm milk is transferred to large bowls where a coagulant is added. After curds form, they are broken in a process not unsimilar to a paddle turning in an electric mixer. The broken curds are poured out into trays lined with cheesecloth. A tofu master is responsible for distributing the curds evenly and wrapping them in the cloth. The large block is then transferred to the pressing area. Large hydraulic presses are used to press the tofu to the desired thickness, releasing a significant amount of "whey". Once the blocks are set, they are cut (again by hand) and transferred to a cold water bath to cool.

Yuba is another popular product made from soy milk. As soy milk is heated, the proteins and fats coagulate, forming a thin sheet on the surface of the liquid. Once set, a tofu master first cuts the sheet loose.

The sheets are then hung to dry briefly. They are later folded and packaged. Hodo delivers to restaurants and farmers markets. Their products are sold within one day of production and are therefore the freshest tofu products available in the Bay area.

Fortunately, there were samples of some of the very delicious ways that tofu and yuba can be prepared!

When we returned to SF, I dropped Ben off at work and headed over to the Ferry Building to slurp down some Hog Island oysters for lunch. Paired with Acme bread and a glass of Domaine Carneros pink bubbly, they made the perfect snack.

Feeling somewhat gluttonous, I strolled down to Blue Bottle, where they misheard my request for an affogato (Humphry Slocombe ice cream topped with a shot of espresso) for a macchiato (a shot of espresso with a dollop of steamed milk). So, instead, I just had both! All in all, it was a lovely afternoon.


  1. Wow! Sounds like a perfect day, and it's not over yet...

  2. wow! that's awesome. how do you get to be a tofu master?

  3. sooooogoood!!!!! great documentation too! i really learned the process now.
    of course life cant be too healthy and affagato is the perfect pick me up treat!

  4. Yes, Arun, a mellow flow, candlelit, yoga class was the ideal end to that kind of day ;)

    Liz- I think that's what they call all the people who make the tofu (or at least do the important jobs...perhaps the guy schlepping the leftover pulp for the hogs is not yet a "master"). However, I have no idea how you become a tofu job, right?

    Thanks, mom...and, yes, a little bit of ice cream is totally good for the soul!

  5. i am jealous of your wednesday, though i had a good one too :) we went on a date to powell's books and looked at books about treehouses, and i read to my girlfriend in the middle of the aisle from a great book we found called A Little Better Than Plumb: The Biography of a House (which we then bought and it is now our read-aloud book before going to bed). our date also involved pizza and, later, cereal (and taco bell, an interesting combination); walking; and seeing the very bright moon light up the sky.

    however, there was no tofu involved, so i think you win.