When it comes to Tofu, I don’t know about you, but for me, there’s only one that’s a regular staple in my refrigerator, and that’s Aloha Tofu. It’s locally made right here in Honolulu, fresh, and priced right. And the variety of, again, FRESH products Aloha Tofu offers, including firm, soft and oboro (Big Island Nigari) tofu, plus aburage, konnyaku, okara and soy milk are all anyone could ask for of a soybean.
Not to mention their new Aloha Tofu Town, where they take their products and whip them into ready-to-eat tofu dishes for everyone to enjoy that are absolutely oishii. Aloha Tofu is the ichiban best-est-est!
Honda Tofu is another fresh-made local brand on Oahu (out of a long lost breed) that Costco, Sam’s Club and Tamura Supermarket carries, which I’d say is as great as Aloha, just not as widely distributed and diversified in product selection.
Honda Tofu, made fresh in Wahiawa, Oahu since 1917
I tried House Foods Tofu, based in Garden Grove, California (parent company based in Japan), as well as several imported Japanese boxed brands, and while acceptable, none could ever compare to the fresh, made in Hawaii Tofu.
Well, I wrote to Zojirushi USA back in July of last year when I bought my still AWESOME induction heat rice cooker, complimenting them on such a wonderful product, and got an email reply from one of their sales representatives named Krista. Delighted by the positive feedback and of course me being a food blogger, she mentioned also being a sales rep for Mori-Nu Tofu by Morinaga Nutritional Foods, Inc., based in Torrance, California, a brand I never tried before. She offered to send me a sample package of Morinaga Tofu products to review on this blog, to which of course I obliged.
Now keep in mind I said this was SEVEN MONTHS AGO. So that means this product was sitting in my pantry, not refrigerated for over SIX MONTHS. Specifically, the expiration date on the box is time stamped for March 13, 2015, and I actually did this review at home only about two weeks ago on Sunday, March 7th, just 6 days before the expiration date. Yet I purposely did that, as I wanted to test just how shelf-stable this product is, as that’s one of their key selling points.
Mori-Nu Tofu selling points are:
• Shelf stable – no refrigeration needed until opening
• Made with non-GMO Soybeans
• No preservatives
The ingredients for all of them are: filtered water, soybeans, gluconolactone and calcium chloride. Note, except for the Organic Tofu, which obviously uses organic soybeans, plus organic soy protein.
Also note that corn-based gloconolactone and salt-based calcium chloride are the coagulants used in these products that causes the soy milk to firm up into tofu.
So let’s see not only how good Morinaga Tofu tastes, but how SHELF STABLE it is. Yup, I’m being tough on them here!
Krista included six products in the Morinaga sample box I received:
• Mori-Nu Silken Medium Nigari Tofu
• Mori-Nu Silken Soft Tofu
• Mori-Nu Silken Lite Firm Tofu
• Mori-Nu Silken Firm Tofu
• Mori-Nu Organic Silken Firm Tofu
• Mori-Nu Silken Extra Firm Tofu
Each conveniently shelf-stable Mori-Nu Tofu box is 11.5 oz. to 12.3 oz. net weight, clocking in nearly 50% smaller than the 20 oz. Aloha Tofu.
As you can tell by the impression it made into the shape of the tofu, that it was “set” by the coagulant in the packaging box its sold in.
Thankfully the water that the Mori-Nu tofu sits in the package from the factory smelled “clean” when I emptied it, and not putrid or rancid at all. However it did have a very slight chemical smell in a very sterile way, sort of like a doctors office if you will. Yeah, that makes you feel better now, right? lol
After draining the factory water, I gave each block of tofu a clean ‘n fresh cold tap water rinse (we have soft water in my area), and blotted them well with lots of paper towels to dry the surface.
Speaking cold, it should also be noted that I put the boxes of Morinaga Tofu in the refrigerator a couple of days before doing this review, as I really don’t care for tofu eaten straight-up at room temperature — it’s gotta’ be chilled.
Since it was a little “tight” in the packaging box, what I did to help work it out without breaking the delicate tofu blocks, is I ran fresh cold tap water into the package, which helped loosen it. The only stubborn and most fragile one was the soft tofu, second to the left in the photo above, where you can see I cracked it almost in half trying to get it out.
Before we partake, let me give a quick eulogy to these tofu that we are about to receive: “You were good men who loved your country, family and God. May you forever rest in pieces… TO EAT!” LOL!!!
Also included in the sample box were a bunch of Morinaga tofu recipe pamphlets, which you can readily check out on their website over at Morinu.com. While a “Thick and Creamy Morinaga Tofu Horchata” and “Morinaga’s Banzai Tofu Tabbouleh” sound intriguing, I just don’t have the time for or focus on making right now.
Let’s keep this simple and sample each variation of Morinaga tofu plain as is, then later with nothing but Kawanaka Shoyu — an INCREDIBLE shoyu from Hiroshima, Japan I learned about from, yup, Aloha Tofu. That, plus some green onion, and of course my trusty tsukemono companions, Maui Spicy Takuan and Beni Shoga, offering some extra zippity-zap! And that’s it.
Hai, itadakimasu, where I taste each Mori-Nu Tofu first without any shoyu or condiments added to it, starting from left to right with the Nigari, then to the Soft, then the Lite Firm, then the Firm, then the Organic Firm, and finally the Extra Firm.
Mori-Nu Silken Medium Nigari Tofu (no sauce)
Surprisingly Mori-Nu’s Nigari tasted the most “plastic” to me, like it came out of a 3-D printer, as in seriously. Like this stuff belongs more in the lab on the International Space Station to feed our astronauts, than in a local supermarket. I really had a hard time taking that one down plain without anything to enhance it.
I guess their Nigari — which is the coagulant that firms up the tofu — just doesn’t compare to the superior Big Island Kona Coast deep sea cold water Nigari Aloha Tofu is so fortunate to have access to. Note to Morinaga company on that tip!
Mori-Nu Silken Soft, Light Firm, Firm and Extra Firm Tofu (no sauce)
As I expected, all these pretty much had the same flavor profile, with the only variable being obviously their firmness. That said, the Mori-Nu Silkin Soft Tofu was actually my favorite, tasting the most natural of this bunch, like because it wasn’t as dense on molecular level as the firm tofu products.
And I say that very loosely, because, as I was expecting now after tasting them all, none of these compare both in natural flavor and texture to the fresh, made in Hawaii from Aloha Tofu, and Honda Tofu.
Mori-Nu Silken Firm Organic Tofu (no sauce)
The one saving grace was Mori-Nu’s Silken Firm Organic Tofu, which was the most natural — and well organic — tasting tofu in the entire lot, as did it also have a more naturally firm texture, not coming across, so should I say, “manufactured” and “mass-produced”.
Mori-Nu’s Silken Organic Tofu is the one I’d recommend in this entire bunch, and even with that, it needs something more, so let’s try them next with Kawanaka Shoyu from Hiroshima, a trade “secret” I learned from, who else? Aloha Tofu!
Mori-Nu Silken Tofu with Kawanaka Shoyu, Beni Shoga, Maui Spicy Takuan and Negi
OK, much better! The combination of the slightly sweetened, deep and robust bonito-flavored Kawanaka Shoyu, contrasted by the zip from the Beni Shoga (pickled ginger), zap from the Maui Spicy Takuan and zing from the green onion saved all of them. Now they’re all good! For realz!
Then again, that’s not really fair to allow tofu to be “saved” by added flavorings, right? Shouldn’t the tofu be just as enjoyable eaten plain? Actually, I don’t know. I mean, to be honest, I can’t even eat Aloha Tofu plain straight out of the tub for an extended amount of time. I mean, yeah a cube here and there, but no way an entire block, lest I feel like tofu will come out of my ears, if you know what I mean.
It’s a wrap
That said, Mori-Nu’s Organic Silken Firm Tofu still stood out in the crowd as the best one, even when cloaked/enhanced with Shoyu and tsukemono. Which to grade them, I’ll give the Organic Silken Firm Tofu 2½ Ume Musubi (pretty good) and the rest 1 SPAM Musubi (average), except for the Nigari, which I give -1 Ume Musubi (below average). Sorry, that last one was just way too much of a “lab experiment in a box” for me.
I will give Mori-Nu Tofu huge “props” for having such a long shelf life, as that’s pretty dang great for tofu to still be at least edible to actually being quite good (the Organic Firm product) while being stored at room temperature for over SEVEN MONTHS. Amazing, actually!
Especially when you consider the shelf life of fresh tofu is only about 10 days, depending whether you change the water daily and keep it properly refrigerated.
With that, when I put together a new emergency survival kit (you should rotate your food supply, you know), I’ll consider Morinaga’s Organic Silken Firm Tofu to add to my kit. That, and a bottle of Kawanaka Shoyu and it’s all good while I’m getting blown! Which as a reminder, Hawaii’s hurricane season will start again in June.
As for the leftover tofu samples I had, I used it for making Nutri Ninja smoothies. Worked out well!
According to the Morinaga website “where to buy” page, Mori-Nu Tofu is available on Oahu at Walgreens, Whole Foods & Down to Earth.
Huge mahalo to Kristen of Mori-Nu Tofu and Zojirushi USA for sending me the samples for this review.
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