A Wireless Method For Pressing Tofu

Tofu is a fairly common food in East and Southeast Asian cuisines, but it has also been making its way around vegetarian circles as a meat substitute. While it may be a more environmentally friendly source of protein than meat, it does have the unfortunate side effect of being fairly tedious to cook. To reach the right consistency, tofu requires hours of pressing to drain excess water, which tends to be tedious for most amateur cooks.

A team of students at HackMIT developed a contraption that incrementally presses tofu for you, using signals sent over WiFi to initialize the device. Several 3D-printed components extend an existing food container, along with a stepper motor, motor shield, Adafruit Feather HUZZAH, and a screen.

The motor steps at a rate of 30rpm once a signal is sent from a mobile application, causing four connected threaded rods to begin rotating. The tofu tray travels upwards to press against its lid, draining out excess water. A central gear box containers complementary cutouts that allow the tofu platform to travel vertically when shafts are rotated, pushed by nuts below the platform. The students also included a screen indicating time remaining, as well as a notification sent to the user once the tofu is finished being pressed.

It’s certainly a useful solution that will hopefully increase the popularity of tofu-based recipes!

47 thoughts on “A Wireless Method For Pressing Tofu

      1. It’s all about the seasoning or basting. Think chicken tandoori style… it is the yogurt and spice mix that turns ordinary chicken into amazing Indian dish. Same here. Maybe try coating it in stock powder like Rapunzel or think garlic and pepper mashed together like Vietnamese salt and pepper anything. If you think it takes a long time, I have proven that shaping a few spices over slices of tofu takes about as long as shaping salt and pepper on your bacon. It really is not a time problem. Chop up a clove of garlic? 15 secs or use garlic powder 3 secs. Snap out of meat thinking and the world of flavours opens up for most people. If it does not work for you, no biggie. Not having a go, just imho.

      2. Ylu should try yuba.

        This is the skin that develops when you are making soymilk. They dry it, and sell it as a product. It won’t taste like bacon, but it will fry up like bacon.

        Soak it in water, flqvor it with tamari and then fry it.

    1. I think that is about the slices, cubes will never approximate the mouth feel of chop. Now if you slice the rough tofu about the same thickness as a chop then add fine crumbs/stock/spice powder mix (not necessarily chilly hot) and fry it same as a chop it will not be the same but you may actually like the texture and flavour all the same. There are many brands and types of tofu it is also about exploring those. Some are silky and pudding like and others are rough textured and much dryer. Have a look at what other cultures do with tofu to give you inspiration. Personally I learned a lot from Japanese cooking. No a chop it is not but by gawd it is delicious and not hard once you dissect what and how they did that. Do it a few times and it becomes easy.

    1. That’s why god (jk, there is no god) made seasonings, marinades, sauces, bbq, and on and on and on. What’s with all the anti-veg FUD? Criticize the hack on its own merits instead of being clouded by politics, preference, and religion.

  1. It doesn’t take “hours” and it’s not really a meat substitute. Jeez, just fill a bowl with water and put it on top of the tofu.

    Has the author ever watched a Japanese cooking show?

    1. And be careful about the dialogue. This one is quietly pushing that the more protein the better. Plenty of research I have read that says perhaps that is wrong. Not saying that a tofu based dish cannot be constructed to have loads of protein. More is not necessarily better.

  2. Why do you need a meat alternative so badly? Can you not live without the flavor and texture so much that you need to create faux beef? Surely you jest. The world eats whatever it wants, so stop trying to pretend like you don’t want to eat real meat. It’s the circle. Almost everything eats something else, whether it had blood pumping through it or not.

  3. “So suck it, meat-heads”

    Well, enjoy munching all day long (and evening as well) enough tofu with proteins equivalent to munching steak for 20 minutes.

    Hope your teeth are healthy, sharp and strong.
    They gonna get a lot of veggie use. Ask cows if in doubt.

  4. The brick my wife uses sit atop a 2×4 pressing down on a bag of to be squeezed tofu in cheese cloth is also wireless. I’ll be sure to let her know she should file a prior art patent claim. Not all problems need solving.

  5. Hating on tofu is like hating on cheese. There are lots of different ways to prepare it, some of them tastier than others. Many recipes include it with meat as well. My personal favorite was winning a “chilli cooking” contest in San Antonio with my “麻婆豆腐” or ‘spicy tofu”. I’m a white Irish dude, for reference, but I can learn tasty cooking from around the world when needed…

      1. You are missing the point. If the dishes tastes bland, blame the cook, not the ingredients. No one in Asia eat it by itself like white bread without adding favours lke spices and/or MEAT.

        It is a blank page, allowing it to take on favours of others ingredients. It can work with savory, spicy or desserts dishes. It is quite often fried in Asian cooking to change the texture as well.

          1. As tasteless as “Whitecut cut chicken” in Chinese restaurant – a bland poached chicken stripped off its tastes (after making stock) served with dipping of salt and five spices. That’s about the most bland chicken dishes you can order.

        1. I’ve had stinky tofu, at a night market, you could smell it from about half a km away, the smell when you brought it to your mouth was almost enough to make you want to retch and it STIlL tasted like nothing!

  6. High protein tofu has less water and is denser. If you cut and let it sit on a towel for a few minutes, any tofu dries faster than the ‘traditional’ pressing. It provides the right amount of time to prepare your other ingredients or coating for frying or baking.
    You can also drain a second block and throw it in a bag with marinade so it’s ready to put into the pan or oven next time.

  7. The thing is that we need to press tofu is news to me. Decades of cooking tofu and tempeh dishes and I haven’t pressed any of it. Shock horror. Maybe I’ll try it and see what happens. In thinking about it meats and veg has quite a bit of water in it, why aren’t we pressing those? Wouldn’t cooking steam it off ass assuming you are leaving the lid off…? Does it cook faster? All the same the device does look cool and if one can access the home network externally then pressing could be organised perhaps when deciding on dinner say from work. Nice idea but I will try the bowl of water over the top first.

    I still thing 555. Set the delay and the pressing time and hit start when leaving for work. Too easy and no apps, reverse nat and some idiot hacking in blah blah each to their own..

    1. If you buy tofu, of course you don’t need a press.

      But tofu doesn’t grow on trees. You grind up tofu beans and make soymilk, then add a cioagulant. Then y33iu separate the curds from the whey, it is like making cheese, and then press the curds too get the desired firmness.

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