I came home on Sunday and inspected a couple of tubs of tofu that
I‘d left sitting in the fridge while I was away on the Pacific Northwest tofu tour. One contained creamy salty tofu
misozuke, an old school type of fermented tofu from Japan that I’d made about 6 weeks earlier. I smeared a piece on bread to taste. It had mellowed and matured nicely while I was traveling.
The other tub of tofu – a block of super-firm
tofu, had slimy white and orange stuff on it. I threw it out as it had clearly
gone bad. That’s the difference between tofu that’s been preserved and not. One
you want to eat and the other you discard.
A while back, I posted a Q&A
with Dang Vu, a Vietnamese-American who’d started making and selling tofu
misozuke in the Bay Area. A couple of Twitter friends suggested that I make the
stuff so I did. There’s a fermented tofu recipe in Asian Tofu (see page 41) so
I wasn’t daunted. Note that some people call tofu misozuke "vegan cheese." To me, it's just an Asian type of fermented tofu.
If you’ve had Chinese fermented tofu (fu ru in Mandarin, chao in
Vietnamese, tao hu yi in Thai), tofu
misozuke is similar, though relatively obscure in Japan. Its use seems to be
relatively limited to eating it as a nibble or spread. In Washoku,
Elizabeth Andoh suggests it as a snack food with drink. Chinese fermented tofu, on the other hand, is used as a
cooking seasoning for marinades, sauces, braises, stir-fries and roast meats.
low-down? In a nutshell, if you salt tofu and then let it sit around, it
will break down into a creamy texture. Whereas Chinese fermented tofu sits in a
salty and rice wine brine for months, Japanese tofu misozuke is coated with
miso, sake and sugar. Without these elements, the tofu grows mold and turns
slimy – just like regular cheese does.
is this: Block tofu is basically a dairy product. It’s made from the curds
that result from coagulating soy milk, like how cheese is prepared. Let the soy or animal milk curds go bad in a
good way and you get something rather tasty.
To make tofu misozuke, I applied concepts that I learned from developing the Chinese white fermented tofu recipe in the book:
- Using firmer tofu makes prettier, sturdier
chunks but they take longer to turn creamy because the curds are more
- Waiting is the hardest part. It takes 6 to 8
weeks for the stuff to mature.
- Taste on a weekly basis to monitor progress.
The stuff was burpy to me at the front end.
- Ferment in the fridge for food safety’s sake.
- Tinker with the flavor. I made 2 trials and
found that going a little saltier was better. Blend your favorite misos.
The trickiest thing about this recipe is wrapping up the tofu in
cloth. The Japanese often marinate foods by wrapping it in cotton cloth and
then slathering the marinade on the outside. I used a piece voile (a thin
cotton fabric sold at fabric stores) so I could wash and reuse it. Muslin would
be a little too thick so yes, you could use a double layer cheesecloth. You
want just a thin layer of fabric between the tofu and the tofu mixture.
So I spread some miso marinade on the bottom of my container then
lined it with the fabric. Then, I put the tofu in, cover it with fabric, then the
This is a great recipe for people who like to do science experiments in the kitchen. Or, if you just want to do something cool with tofu. I suppose you could also gift this for the holidays if you get started soon.
Yield: about 10
- 10 to 12 ounces (280–336 g) medium-firm or firm tofu, organic
or non-GMO preferred
- 2/3 cup (7 oz, 200 g) white miso
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (1 1/4 oz, 35 g) red miso
- 1/4 cup sake
- 3 to 4 tablespoons mirin
- Cut the tofu into two 1-inch-thick slabs. Place on a dry dishtowel
or paper towels and set aside to drain for 15 minutes. Pat the tofu to remove excess
- In a bowl, combine both kinds of miso with the sake and mirin.
Adjust the flavor for a salty, sweet finish.
- Select a container to snugly contain the tofu in one layer. Spread
1/3 of the miso mixture on the bottom. Arrange the voile (or cheesecloth) on
top. Place the tofu on the fabric. Then fold the fabric over the tofu. Spread
the remaining miso mixture over the fabric to cover the sides and top. If needed,
fold any excess fabric over the miso mixture.
- Cover the container and refrigerate for 3 or 4 days. If water
gathers in the container during this period, pour it off. Nick and taste the
tofu after this first period and it will seem really salty. Unwrap the tofu and
transfer it to another container lined with parchment, cover and refrigerate
for 5 to 8 weeks. (Discard the miso mixture and recycle the voile or discard
- You can eat the tofu after the first 3 or 4 days of marinating but
it will mellow and transform as it sits longer. Put it in the back of the
fridge and forget about it. You can cut off bits to monitor its progress. I
found that at 6 weeks, mine was nice. I'm sure it'll be even better at 8 weeks. Enjoy as a cheese-like spread – on
bread or a cracker.