Nofu: Burmese Bean Curd

December 31, 2006 at 6:53 am (Beans, B_, Other)


My friend gave me this recipe on my soy-free month, and I bought the garbanzo flour to make it but never got up the energy. Cleaning out my fridge I rediscovered the besan (chickpea flour) and decided to give it a go. I thought it was called Nofu but when I dug up the recipe it’s actually called Tohu, which isn’t nearly as catchy I think. But maybe Tohu is the Burmese name? By the way, the new Thai cookbook my brother just bought me for a gift says that tofu can also be made from mung beans, which are apparently a very close relative to soybeans.

  • 3 cups chickpea flour (also called besan or garbanzo flour)
  • 15 cups water
  • 1 t. corn or peanut oil
  • 1/4 t. ground turmeric
  • 1 t. salt
  1. 1. Mix the chickpea flour and water together with a whisk or egg beater. Let stand overnight, about 12 hours.
  2. Next day, strain the mixture, 1/4 at a time, through a thin cotton cloth. Help the mixture through the cloth by stirring and pressing. Scrape out the residue from the cloth and discard it. let the strained liquid settle for 3 hours.
  3. With a soup ladle, carefully remove 6 cups of the liquid from the top of the mixture without disturbing the bottom. Discard the 6 cups liquid you remove.
  4. Rub the bottom of a large pot with the oil. Pour in almost all the remaining mixture (about 9 cups) and add the turmeric and salt. What remains at the bottom of the original pan is a thick chickpea sludge, about 1 cup. This should be reserved for step 5.
  5. Bring to a boil the 9 cups of mixture and cook over moderate heat 30 minutes, stirring continuously. At this time, add the reserved sludge, which will act as a thickening agent, and continue to cook over low heat for 10 minutes more, stirring the thick mixture firmly. Remove the pan from the heat.
  6. Line a 12×4 inch tray (a large loaf pan is good), 3 inches deep, with clean cotton cloth. Turn outn the mixture into this and cool completely, uncovered, overnight. At this stage you may slice the firm tohu, it is ready to use.

Others’ Notes

After making it (but before tasting it) I went looking for others’ responses. I found two. One person on veganbodybuilding.com says:

I would describe the resulting product as gel-like but chalky (very much like polenta, actually); whereas, tofu is gel-like with a meatier chew/bite.
The Bofu does not brown well, (you have to use oil) meaning it will stick to the pan. When you try to turn it, you will leave a layer of it in the pan. This could be remedied by using a non-stick pan with oil; additional oil; or deep frying (which would probably taste good, but not very healthful!)
If I were to experiment, this what I’d be aiming: It needs to be creamier, have more chew, and binding (it has that cornmeal type of crumbliness). I would try various ingredients in combination to achieve this. Additionally, some more fat would help.

Another person on mothering.com says:

I once made chickpea curd. It was HORRID. Metallic silken tofu. Ugh. It was in a veg magazine and called “tohu”. I was never a silken tofu fan, preferring the chewier cakes. This stuff like like eating slimy gram flour. *shudders*

Okay, now I’m scared, especially since I didn’t really follow the instructions. I used a metal sieve rather than a cloth to strain it, then didn’t have a whole cup of sludge left so threw in some of the fibrous sludge I have sieved out. I also didn’t stir continually enough and the bottom burned. Then I got tired of stirring and threw the sludge in early. In the end the stuff was quite thick and a pleasant yellow, like polenta. I put it in the loaf pan to set, and it really does look a lot like polenta. I tasted some of the stuff warm out of the pot and it’s pretty mild tasting–not unpleasant but not much flavor at all.

It looked so much like polenta I tried slicing it really thin and baking it at a high temperature on an oiled cookie sheet. The outside did crisp up a bit, but unlike polenta, the inside did not get firmer as it baked but softer–the inside kind of melted, almost turning back to what it was like as an uncooked chickpea flour and water mixture. The taste was mild but pleasant–but not nearly as tasty as baked polenta. Rating: B-

Next I decided to try the ultimate fake-tofu test–scrambled nofu. I got my cast iron skillet nice and hot, added 1/2 Tbs. of olive oil, then smushed a 1/2 pound of nofu between my hands just like I would with tofu to crumble it. It browned nicely on one side, but then again started to “melt.” When I flipped it it was starting to resemble mashed potatoes in consistency more than tofu–or maybe semolina porridge like they eat in South India for breakfast. I added nutritional yeast, soy sauce, and black pepper and served up the fried mush. It was surprisingly tasty. The great yeast/soy flavors came through just as well as they do with tofu. I was impressed. Another great vehicle for the infamous yeast/soy combo. Yum. I actually think it would make a great filling in breakfast tacos, because it’s sort of a cross between fried mashed potatoes and scrambled eggs (because of the yellow and the protein, not the flavor or texture really). I served some of this to a friend and she really like it. She even asked for some of the nofu to take home with her! She made burritos out of it, and said her (quite carnivorous) husband really liked it. Rating: B

Lastly, I tried throwing diced nofu squares in miso soup. I threw them in after offing heat, but before the miso. They didn’t melt away as I expected. The consistency was surprisingly similiar to silken tofu in miso soup, but the flavor was much stronger. Not exciting, but not bad. B-.

I like this nofu enough to make it again, but the steps seem unnecessarily complicated. Wouldn’t it be great if you could make it just like polenta? Mix the chickpea flour and water (less water though) and cook on super low for an hour. I’m going to try it… If anyone gets to it before me, let me know if it works.

In the meantime, anyone have other ideas for uses for this weird and wondrous nofu?

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1 Comment

  1. Lily said,

    it’s called Tohu and it’s really delicious as a salad (tohu doke).

    Here are some of the things you can make:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burmese_tofu

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