Soft, softer, sunfu!
My January has been a full on “tofu moon”. First, with these smoked tofu “meatballs”, then with the pumpkin seed tofu aka “pumfu” … And now, with sunflower seed tofu aka “sunfu”!
Sunflower seed tofu is melt in your mouth soft, creamy and luxurious. I honestly have never had tofu this rich before (though not counting in the amazing tofu I’ve had in Japan). Due to the creamy mouthfeel and the soft consistency, I love to use sunflower seed tofu lightly seasoned as is – or served à la hiyayakko (pictured here). It is however also delicious in soups or pan seared untill crispy on the outside, yet velvety in the middle ♥
sunflower seed tofu aka Sunfu
How did I end up experimenting with such a thing as sunflower seed tofu? Well, it’s all thanks to YouTube. Last Autumn a video by Mary’s Test Kitchen popped up in my recommended videos, with the topic of pumpkin seed tofu. I was instantly intrigued and finally went ahead and tried the recipe in December! The experiment was so rewarding that the very next day I was already trying out the sunflower seed tofu too.
Traditional tofu made from soy milk needs an added coagulant in order to curdle. For some reason pumpkin seed milk and sunflower seed milk don’t! Heated up to a certain temperature, they’ll curdle themselves, without any additional ingredients. It’s like magic!
I tried to dig up some info on why this happens, and so far no huge luck – except for this article I found on Science Direct. “Rheological and physico-chemical properties of milk gel using isolate of pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata) seeds: A new source of milk clotting peptidase”. I honestly didn’t read more than the abstract though, most of which flew straight over my head 😀 But, it seems certain peptides in pumpkin seeds are responsible for that wonderful magic trick!
If you already read my report on making pumpkin seed tofu, you’ll pretty much know how to make sunflower seed tofu too:
- Soak up the sunflower seeds, rinse and blend with fresh water.
- Separate the fibers from the sunflower seed milk, by straining through a cheese cloth or nut milk bag.
- Heat up the sunflower seed milk until it curdles. Ladle the curdles in a tofu mold, press… and voila! Sunfu is done.
There are a few little differences to pumfu making however. First of all, you don’t need to soak up the sunflower seeds for as long. 4-5 hours is enough! Secondly, you need to heat up the seed milk to a higher temperature for it to curdle. After reaching the boiling point, the milk will however separate into whey and tofu curds, just like with the pumpkin seed milk. And finally … the consistency is quite different!
Sunflower seed tofu aka sunfu
Sunflower seed tofu curds are delicate and soft, and they make for a delicate and soft tofu too. Regardless for how long you press it, it will be soft, fatty and creamy. It’s just a matter of how soft. I’m not the biggest fan of sunflower seeds (perhaps because I was eating them A LOT as a kid?), but I almost prefer the sunfu over pumfu, because of that decadent mouthfeel. It’s hard to compare it to something! Maybe a soft cream cheese – or even a ripe avocado?
Because sunfu is so soft, I’ve mainly used it very lightly seasoned and “raw”. I love to top off, garnish and complete other dishes with sunfu! It is wonderful also pan seared, and added into soups at the very last minute. I have tried marinating it too! Lately I’ve been experimenting with vegan spreads based on the sunflower seed tofu – but more on that later! 🙂
Sunflower seed tofu aka "Sunfu"
- fine mesh strainer or two, or three
- cheese cloth / nut milk bag or one of those reusable fruit bags made of the kind of fabric that has tiny holes in it - that's actually what I use!
- tofupress / mold not obligatory but handy
- cooking thermometer not obligatory but a nice thing to have if you're a control freak like me
- slotted spoon
- 300 g raw hulled sunflower seeds
- Soak the sunflower seeds in plenty of fresh water for 4 hours up to overnight. Our indoor temperature is about 19°C so I leave the seeds on the counter, but if you're living in a warmed climate it's best to soak the seeds in the fridge.
- Rinse the seeds in a fine mesh strainer, letting the excess water to run out. Measure the volume of the soaked seeds and add them into a blender. Add in double of the volume in fresh water. (So: if you end up with 6 dl of soaked seeds, you need 1,2 liters of water)
- Blend the seeds until you won't feel too much grittiness when you rub the mixture between your fingers. Really break down the seeds well - so when in doubt, keep on blitzing just to be on the safe side. It takes about 2-3 minutes for me! Depending on the size your blender you might need to do this in 2 batches.
- Rinse and wring dry a cheese cloth or a nut milk bag (or whatever you're using) and set into a big colander/sieve over a large pot. Pour the seed mixture to the pot through the cloth. Once most of the liquid has run through to the pot, it's time to get a workout!
- Gather the edges of the cheese cloth (or nut milk bag etc.) and start squeezing the fibers to extract all the sunflower seed milk. Keep squeezing until nothing really comes out anymore. The fibers that are left behind should feel sort of dry and kind of like play dough 🙂 Save the fibers, they can be used in bread dough, veggie patties and such.
Sunflower seed tofu:
- Now you have a pot of sunflower seed milk - let's turn it into sunflower seed tofu!
- Start heating the milk in a large pot, while calmly scraping the bottom of the pot with a spatula to prevent anything from burning. If you own a cooking thermometer, you can use it to better keep track of the temperature. But even if you don't have one, you won't miss out on the moment when the milk suddenly separates into tofu curds and whey! This happens when the milk gets to a boiling point.
- Keep simmering the milk, whilst very gently stirring the pot, until the whey is no longer milky and your pot is filled with delicate tofu curds. NOTE: be careful of breaking any of the tofu curds. You want them to be as big as possible!
- Remove the pot from the heat. Line a tofu mold (or a sieve) with a cheese cloth (wash it and wring it dry first). When the tofu curds have cooled off a bit, you can start ladling the curds into the tofu mold / sieve with a slotted spoon. Try to spread them out evenly. In the end you can pour the whey through a fine mesh strainer to catch those remaining tofu curds. Save the whey!
- Even out the curds a bit if necessary, then fold over the sides of the cheese cloth. If you're using a tofu press, put the lid on and start pressing. Collect the whey from the bottom of the press! It can be used in soups, broths and bread dough!
- If you're using a sieve, put it in a pot to collect the whey. Add a plate / small chopping block over the tofu and add a weight on top. Leave to press for at least 3-4 hours, or over night in the fridge, depending on the consistency and moisture content you're looking for.
- Once your tofu has been pressing enough, it's time to get cooking! When sunfu is pressed for a shorter time it stays super soft and moist and I love to add it into salads like this. When pressed for longer, it's easier to pan fry it. I also love to add it to soups, stews and such at the very end - submerged in a hot liquid it turns into this silky soft little treat!
Ps. Upon searching for more info on sunflower seed tofu and pumpkin seed tofu, I came across a recipe for sunflower seed tempeh! Very interesting. Maybe next month will be all about tempeh for me?