How to Make Pinto Bean Tofu

Vegetarian Option Won't Break the Bank

Photo from Wikipedia

We’ve all been there—you’re vegetarian, you have two cents in your bank account, and only dry ingredients in your kitchen. What can you make to ease that tofu scramble craving?

Or say you can’t or won’t eat soy. My five-year-old nephew thinks “GMOs” means “junk food”—he has no idea that according to Huffington Post, 95 percent of American soy is genetically altered. Since it’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature, GMO ingredients have been linked to allergies and organ failure. Dr. Joseph Mercola writes in Huffington Post that most tofu in America is unfermented, which means the anti-nutrients “saponins, soyatoxin, phytates, trypsin inhibitors, goitrogens and phytoestrogens” are present. These anti-nutrients are linked to pancreatic disorders, infertility, and increased risk of cancer. So soy is not the health miracle people claim it is. Factor in allergies, and according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America soy is among the top eight food allergens, and you’ve got a sizable percentage of the population that might hesitate at slurping down soy.

So are you a foodie who can’t or won’t do soy but still loves tofu? Or a vegan who relies on a food pantry to put food on your table? Keep reading, because this article will teach you how to make a soy-free, gluten-free, vegan pinto bean tofu. And relax—it’s easy to do, doesn’t require any special equipment, and uses ingredients that even a carnivore probably has around their kitchen. As Pixar observes in Ratatouille, “Anyone can cook.” That’s especially true with this recipe, which even Linguine could do without Remy’s help.

A Burmese-style tofu is absolutely nothing like what you’re thinking. In Shan State in Myanmar, tofu is made by grinding chickpeas into a flour called besan, and adding water, turmeric, and a pinch of salt. Then it is heated until it is firm yet jelly-like, and afterwards prepared to the cook’s satisfaction—some eat it as is on a salad, some enjoy it deep-fried, and there’s even a curried pescatarian dish. Burmese-style tofu does not crumble when cut. It can also be made from yellow lentils, or in this case, pinto beans.

This recipe, the result of my being unable to properly cook the bag of pinto beans from the food pantry (and let’s face it, it’s tough to get the right texture), will make you two 8x8 blocks of Burmese-style tofu. You’ll need one one-pound bag of pinto beans, some water, turmeric, and salt.

  1. Grind pinto beans into flour. You may want to roast them for easier grinding, but it’s not necessary. Cracking them may prove helpful, but it’s not essential. A blender on its highest speed should be able to give you a fine flour.
  2. Mix one cup of bean flour with one cup of water. You should have some flour left over. This will make the second block of tofu after you follow steps 3 through 8.
  3. Add ¼ teaspoon salt.
  4. Add ¼ teaspoon turmeric (optional, but makes the tofu even healthier).
  5. Mix until smooth.
  6. Boil 1 ½ cups of water. Add bean mixture and reduce heat.
  7. Whisk continuously for 8 minutes. As your arm will wear out unless you’re She-Ra, feel free to switch arms when you get tired.
  8. Pour into 8x8 pan and set until firm, preferably overnight.
  9. Serve as desired. The recipe equals one 8x8 block of firm tofu.

The turmeric is optional, but I strongly recommend using it for a little extra health bang for your buck. Turmeric has many benefits—Healthline.com reports that turmeric is an anti-inflammatory, an antioxidant, improves brain function, reduces the risk of brain disease, lowers your risk of heart disease, can prevent and possibly treat cancer, and is an effective treatment for depression.

The pinto bean tofu is adaptable to almost any recipe calling for tofu, be it Burmese or Chinese—check out the Food Monster app for recipes. A delicious teriyaki marinade made of ingredients you probably already have is this:

  • ¼ cup soy sauce (Bragg’s aminos works as well)
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 6 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • Frankie V’s Spooky White hot sauce, to taste (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in ¼ cup cold water (this is called slurry)

Mix all ingredients, then heat to just barely boiling. Add the slurry and stir until desired thickness.

Marinade your tofu in this, then stir-fry it with some vegetables and rice. Unforgettable, and you didn’t have to run all over your city for ingredients that cost a holy fortune! You are a vegan chef demiurge!

Happy cooking!

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