The first step to making tofu is to soak the beans. Though what is happening is much more profound. The destiny of any bean is to grow, to find a spot in the earth, drink in the moistness of the soil and stir its roots, and push up through the warm earth to kiss the sun with baby leaves. That is the dream bound up inside each bean.
In the evening, I wash and fill a pot with beans. I turn the tap on just a trickle, and let the beans enjoy the soft sensations of running water all night long. The next day, the beans are alive, plump, happy, and pure.
There is a glow to beans that have spent a night under gently running water, a purity that softens and beckons. The steady stream of water has washed away all impurities, and the beans sparkle. There is one last chance to enjoy their beauty. It’s almost a shame to toss them in the blender and grind them to pulp, to crush their precious dreams of becoming tall bean plants and feeling the summer breeze flow through their sweet flowers, to laugh when the bumble bees tickle their petals.
The beans are no more, transformed into cooling blocks of pure tofu. What is the tofu dreaming? A dream of soaking in a hot broth? Of getting doused with seasonings? Of hanging out in a fridge? They look like blocks of tofu cooling, but something much more profound is happening.