2:55 am

During a trip to China while visiting Guilin in southern China in the northeast region of Guangxi Zhuang, our guide took my husband and I to visit her mother in the mountainous countryside region.

Her mother gave us a personal demonstration. The mother gave us a personal demonstration on how they make their own tofu and soy milk using the traditional Chinese method. I must admit that I didn’t realize that making soy milk is also the first step in making tofu.

We all walked toward a stone grinder sitting just outside their house. It had a circular top with a strong wooden handle. The soy beans that had been soaked overnight had now transformed from the original small hard yellow bean into softer plump beans.

As our guide assisted her mother by pouring the beans down a small hole in the grinder, the turning of the stone produced a steady trickle of soy milk that was caught in a basin below.  A small amount of water was  added when needed if the liquid became too thick.

After the grinding process was complete, the thick mixture was poured into a very large muslin bag and hung from the ceiling and the creamy soy milk is squeezed out.

Once this process was complete, the soy milk was taken to the father who was tending a wood fire. The milk was heated to a boil for few minutes.

The byproduct mixture left over in the bag was poured into a wooden frame that had holes in the bottom for drainage leaving the formation of the tofu. The frame was lined on the inside with cheese cloth. The mother added gypsum (calcium sulfate) to help coagulate the mixture into tofu.

After all the mixture was poured into the frame, she gently wrapped it in the cloth while pressing the wooden lid firmly to help squeeze out the excess liquid. After it had set, the lid was removed and the tofu was cut into rectangles ready to be used as desired in many recipes.

We were invited into their home to visit, sitting around their dining table sipping the warm and delicious creamy soy milk. The warmth of their caring hospitality was equally appreciated and left a lasting impression on how the Chinese go out of their way to make foreigners feel welcomed in their beautiful country. This was just one of many special moments where the inspiration for the title of my book TOUCHED BY CHINA was conceived.