The two varieties of tofu in Japan
Two main varieties are sold in Japan. Momen, which literally means 'cotton' has a relatively firm texture. Some of the sides will have an imprint of the cotton cloth it was wrapped in. The other variety, known as kinu meaning 'silk', has a smoother, softer texture. The names denote the different appearance and texture.
The two varieties are prepared differently. Both are made by soaking and grinding soybeans in water, bringing them to the boil, and curdling the resulting soy milk that has been strained. The momen variety is produced by adding the curdling agent to the soy milk, pouring the mixture which has somewhat solidified into moulds, and placing a weight over them to press out water. The kinu or 'silken' variety on the other hand is produced by simply pouring the curdling agent and the soy milk into the mould to solidify, without using the weights.
The two varieties are also different in terms of nutritional content. The firmer, 'cotton' tofu is richer in protein and calcium, while the soft 'silken' tofu is richer in potassium and magnesium.
The two varieties of tofu are put to different uses in a whole range of dishes in the Japanese home.