Black Bean Tofu (soy free and gluten free)

The vegan scene has gone absolutely BANANAS. I could also say nuts because every vegan likes nuts, but there are quite a lot of people who have nut allergies, so not everyone able to eat nuts, unlike bananas. Almost everyone can have bananas. Unless you have a specific medical condition. Or unless if you’re my dad. Which in that case, you can’t have avocados either. Sad life.

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But anyways, another allergen that a lot of people cannot have is soy. In fact, soy is one of the top eight allergens in the United States, which is why all food labels must indicate if the product contains soy. You may be thinking: soy? Is it really that bad if you have a soy allergy? Well my friends, why yes. Yes it is. Soybean oil, soy protein, soy flour, TVP, vegetable gums, vegetable starches, and soy sauce are just about EVERYWHERE in products and in food service establishments. Even more common would be soy-based thickeners, stabilizers, vitamin E, gels, flavorings, and others that can be found in the weirdest places–think deli meat, nutrition supplements, and chicken. Yes…chicken can be processed with soy.

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It’s a no-brainer that one of the most common sources of soy is tofu, which is basically comprised of pressed soybeans. Obviously, people on a soy free diet cannot have tofu, tempeh, or any other plant-based proteins that contain soy. What’s left are legumes, leafy greens, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits, and soy free protein powder. But how about branching out to more creative protein sources? Here’s where soy free tofu comes in to play.

Similarly to how the American legal definition of milk revolves around “lacteal secretion..obtained by the lactation of one or more healthy cows“, the legal definition of tofu encompasses solely soy, specifically “a cheese-like food made from curdling soy milk“. However, in the case of cow’s milk, we have revolutionized the variety of milk sources thanks to branching out towards using nuts (i.e. almonds, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts), seeds (i.e. hemp, flax, sunflower seeds, even pumpkin seeds), grains (i.e. quinoa, rice, oats), and legumes (peanuts, peas, and obviously soy). Why not do the same with tofu, which is touted as a staple for vegans and vegetarians?

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Truly, I am amazed by my classmates who found this recipe. I have searched the web  countless times for their source of inspiration (I can only assume they found the full instructions from this website as well as concrete evidence that the same recipe works with black bean flour). But anyways, here I have provided the full steps that the lab group creating this black bean tofu had consistently used to produce this glorious black bean tofu.

From experience, the tofu refrigerates and freezes very well. Do make sure that you use a dry heat cooking method whenever preparing this tofu, as this block is extremely crumbly and will fall apart if boiling or stirring around vigorously. Mine was pan-fried with some non-stick spray on medium-high heat for three minutes per side.

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INGREDIENTS (makes 1 large block, approximately 24 ounces)

  • 1 cup dry black beans
  • 3 1/3 cups water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp garlic powder (optional)
  • 1/2 TBSP plant-based oil of choice (I recommend coconut oil, avocado oil, sesame oil, or regular olive oil [NOT extra virgin])

PROCEDURE

  1. In a strong food processor or high-speed blender, pulse the dry black beans on highest setting for thirty seconds. Repeat in several increments until the black beans form a fine, grainy flour with a gray color.
  2. In a large pot, evenly combine the water and the black beans until a consistent batter-like mixture is formed. Let sit for at least twelve hours, ideally overnight.
  3. When ready, take the pot and carefully remove and discard all of the water floating above the surface.
  4. In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Carefully add in the liquid from the large pot while leaving a thick sludge at the bottom. Set aside this sludge as it will be used as a thickening agent in the future.
  5. Whisk in the dry spices, cooking over medium heat for 20-30 minutes.
  6. Pour in the sludge, whisking vigorously for several minutes until the sludge is completely integrated and thickens up the mixture.
  7. Line a 7 X 10” baking pan with a cheesecloth or clean cotton towel—parchment paper may work as well, but bear in mind that it doesn’t fold as softly nor does it absorb any liquid as much. Pour the black bean mixture into the pan, flattening and smoothening the surface.
  8. Fold the edges of the cloth over the top and refrigerate for at least eight hours.
  9. When ready to use, set a cutting board on the top of the baking pan.
  10. Flip and baking pan, pulling the cloth away.
  11. Cut and/or prepare as desired. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for five days maximum.

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