What is Nigari Tofu: Comprehensive Guide to Its Benefits and Uses

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Nigari tofu is a type of tofu that is made using nigari, a coagulant that is derived from seawater. This traditional Japanese method of making tofu results in a firmer and more flavorful product than other types of tofu. In this article, we’ll explore the history and process of making nigari tofu, as well as its nutritional benefits and some delicious recipes that showcase its unique flavor and texture. Whether you’re a tofu lover or a curious foodie, this article will give you a deeper understanding of this beloved ingredient.

what is nigari tofu

What Is Nigari Tofu

Nigari tofu is a type of tofu made by coagulating soymilk with nigari, a natural coagulant derived from seawater. Nigari contains mostly magnesium chloride, which gives the tofu a distinct taste and texture. This tofu is popular in Japan and other Asian countries for its rich nutritional profile and versatile culinary uses.

Origins and History

The origins of nigari tofu trace back to ancient Japan, where it has been a staple part of the local diet for centuries. Nigari, the coagulant used to create this tofu, is obtained by evaporating seawater and collecting the remaining solid minerals. This process has been practiced in Japan for over a thousand years, and the resulting tofu quickly became a favorite for its subtle flavor and smooth texture.

Nigari Vs Calcium Sulfate Coagulants

There are two primary coagulants used for making tofu: nigari and calcium sulfate (also known as gypsum). Nigari (magnesium chloride) results in a softer, smoother texture, while calcium sulfate creates a firmer tofu with a more crumbly texture.

Here’s a comparison of the two coagulants:

Nigari (Magnesium Chloride):

  • Soft and smooth texture
  • Subtle flavor
  • Slightly higher in fat and potassium
  • Slightly lower in protein, fiber, and calcium
  • Popular choice in Japan

Calcium Sulfate (Gypsum):

  • Firm and crumbly texture
  • Neutral flavor
  • Slightly higher in protein, fiber, and calcium
  • Slightly lower in fat and potassium
  • Common choice in Chinese cuisine

Despite their differences, both coagulants provide essential nutrients and can be used to create a variety of tofu dishes. The choice between nigari and calcium sulfate depends on the desired texture and flavor of the finished tofu.

In conclusion, nigari tofu is a delicious and nutritious food with a long history in Japanese cuisine. Its unique texture and subtle flavor make it a versatile ingredient for a wide range of dishes. With the added benefits of magnesium chloride from nigari, this tofu stands out as a healthy and delicious option for those seeking a plant-based protein source.

Making Nigari Tofu

Ingredients and Preparation

To make Nigari tofu, gather the following key ingredients: soybeans, water, and nigari. Nigari is a coagulant made of magnesium chloride, derived from seawater or brines1. Begin by preparing soy milk with soybeans and water. This milk serves as the base for the tofu, similar to how dairy milk is for cheese.

Process and Techniques

To make Nigari tofu, start by heating fresh soy milk in a heavy bottom pot on medium-high until just scalding, around 76°C/170°F2. Stir the scalding soy milk in a figure-eight motion and add the nigari. Continue stirring for 30 seconds before removing the mixture from heat. Cover the pot with a lid and allow it to sit for approximately five minutes.

Once the soy milk has coagulated into curds and whey, carefully transfer the curds into a cheesecloth-lined tofu mold3. Arrange the cheesecloth to cover the curds and place weights on top to press out excess liquid. This process should take around 15 to 20 minutes, resulting in a firmer tofu texture. After pressing, remove the tofu from the mold and allow it to cool to room temperature. For the best results, chill the tofu in the refrigerator for at least four hours before using4.

In conclusion, Nigari tofu is a versatile ingredient that can be used in various vegan and vegetarian dishes. By combining simple ingredients like soybeans, water, and nigari with careful preparation techniques, one can make delicious homemade Nigari tofu with relative ease.


  1. Choo Choo Ca Chew
  2. Canadian Sea Salt
  3. The Spruce Eats
  4. TofuBud

Types of Tofu and Their Characteristics

Silken Tofu

Silken tofu is unique in that it has a higher water content and is not pressed like other types of tofu. This results in a soft and smooth texture that can range from soft to firm, depending on how it is produced. Due to its delicate consistency, silken tofu is generally used in recipes that call for blended or pureed tofu, such as smoothies, soups, dressings, and desserts.

Nutritionally, silken tofu is a great plant-based source of protein and contains all essential amino acids necessary for the body. Additionally, it provides some carbs, fats, vitamins, and minerals, making it a nutritious option to include in a balanced diet 1.

Firm and Extra-Firm Tofu

Firm and extra-firm tofu are more robust in texture due to their lower water content and more extended pressing process. As a result, they hold up better in a variety of cooking methods, including grilling, stir-frying, and baking. These types of tofu are versatile and can easily absorb different flavors from marinades, sauces, or spices.

In terms of nutrition, firm and extra-firm tofu are also excellent sources of protein, providing all the essential amino acids needed for a healthy diet. They contain good amounts of fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals as well 2.

Homemade Tofu

Homemade tofu can be made from scratch using a process that involves extracting protein-rich soy milk from soaked and blended soybeans. This milk is then combined with a coagulant, such as nigari, which traditionally consists mostly of magnesium chloride that remains after table salt has been removed from seawater 3. Other coagulants like calcium sulfate or magnesium sulfate can also be used.

Nigari tofu, named for its coagulant, has a particular taste and texture, depending on how it is prepared at home. Its unique characteristics make homemade tofu a highly customizable and satisfying option for those who enjoy experimenting in the kitchen.

However, it’s essential to note that nutritional profiles may vary when making homemade tofu, depending on the specific ingredients and preparation techniques used. Like store-bought varieties, homemade tofu is generally rich in protein, containing all essential amino acids, as well as providing fats, carbs, vitamins, and minerals to support a well-rounded diet 4.


  1. <a href=”https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-tofu”>Healthline</a>
  2. <a href=”https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-tofu”>Healthline</a>
  3. <a href=”https://www.seriouseats.com/shopping-cooking-guide-different-tofu-types”>Serious Eats</a>
  4. <a href=”https://www.choochoocachew.com/nigari-tofu/”>Choo Choo Ca Chew</a>

Nutritional Benefits and Composition

Nigari tofu, also known as hard tofu prepared with nigari, is a popular plant-based food derived from soybeans. It offers numerous nutritional benefits, making it an excellent addition to a balanced diet. The primary ingredient, nigari, is a natural coagulant derived from seawater that helps give tofu its unique texture and slightly firmer consistency1.

Tofu is known to be high in protein, providing all of the essential amino acids the body needs. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of nigari tofu can provide a significant amount of protein, essential for muscle growth and repair1. Its amino acid profile is on par with other high-quality protein sources such as meat and dairy.

Apart from its protein content, nigari tofu is also packed with a range of minerals, including calcium, manganese, selenium, iron, phosphorus, and copper2. Not only do these minerals contribute to strong bones and teeth but also support various bodily functions such as energy production and immune health.

Due to the use of nigari in its preparation, this type of tofu offers an even higher calcium content compared to other varieties3. This makes it an ideal choice for individuals following a dairy-free diet or looking for alternative sources of calcium to support bone health.

Nigari tofu is typically made from organic, non-GMO soybeans, which reflects the growing consumer demand for sustainably sourced and environmentally friendly food options4. Consuming organic tofu ensures that you are not exposed to potentially harmful chemicals that can be found in conventionally grown soy.

To better understand the nutritional composition of nigari tofu, here’s a summary of its key components:

  • Protein: A crucial macronutrient that supports muscle growth and repair1.
  • Calcium: Essential for strong bones and teeth3.
  • Manganese: Plays a role in metabolism and bone health3.
  • Selenium: Offers antioxidant benefits and supports thyroid function3.
  • Iron: Vital for oxygen transport and energy production3.
  • Phosphorus: Necessary for healthy bones and proper cell function2.
  • Copper: Helps produce red blood cells and maintain nerve health2.

In conclusion, nigari tofu offers a plethora of nutritional benefits, making it an excellent food choice for individuals seeking a plant-based, nutrient-dense option. Rich in protein, calcium, and other vital minerals, it serves as a great alternative to traditional animal-based protein sources and helps support overall health and wellness.


  1. Tofu: Nutrients, Benefits, Downsides, and More – Healthline 2 3
  2. Tofu, hard, prepared with nigari Nutrition Facts & Calories 2 3
  3. Tofu Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits – Verywell Fit 2 3 4 5
  4. Tofu: Benefits, Nutrition, and Facts – Health

Tofu in Culinary Applications

Nigari Tofu

Nigari tofu is a type of tofu traditionally made in China and Japan by coagulating soy milk with a brine solution called nigari. This coagulant is a byproduct of extracting salt from seawater and consists primarily of magnesium chloride. Tofu made with nigari as a coagulant has a strong hardness, elasticity, and toughness, giving it a firm texture that is suitable for various cooking methods12.

Methods of Cooking Tofu

There are multiple ways to prepare and cook tofu, making it a versatile ingredient in various dishes.

  • Baking: Baking tofu creates a firmer texture on the outside with a tender interior. This method is perfect for nigari tofu, as it enhances its natural firmness1.
  • Frying: Pan-frying or deep-frying tofu gives it a crispy, golden crust which can be paired with various sauces for a delectable meal. Nigari tofu’s firm texture holds up well while being fried1.
  • Grilling: Nigari tofu can be marinated and grilled to achieve a charred, smoky flavor. Its firm texture makes it an ideal candidate for grilling, as it won’t fall apart on the grill1.
  • Steaming: Steaming tofu is a gentle cooking method that helps to retain its original texture and flavor. Nigari tofu can be steamed and served with various condiments for a flavorful dish1.

Tofu in Vegan Cuisine

Tofu, especially nigari tofu, plays a significant role in vegan cuisine due to its ability to replace meat products while providing essential nutrients1. With its firm texture and adaptability to various cooking methods, nigari tofu serves as an excellent protein source in vegan dishes2. It can be used in a wide range of recipes, from stir-fries and curries to salads and sandwiches, providing delicious plant-based options for vegans and vegetarians alike.


  1. Tofu Today 2 3 4 5 6
  2. Healthline 2

Advanced Tips for Making Nigari Tofu

Nigari tofu is a delicious and versatile food item made from soymilk and a coagulant called nigari. In this section, we will dive deeper into the process of making nigari tofu and provide advanced tips for perfecting your tofu-making skills.

Soybean Selection and Preparation

When making nigari tofu, it’s essential to choose high-quality soybeans. Organic, non-GMO soybeans are ideal for ensuring the best flavor and texture. Soaking the soybeans for 8-10 hours or overnight will make cooking easier and improve the final product. To prepare the soybeans:

  1. Rinse the soybeans thoroughly.
  2. Place them in a large bowl and cover with water to a depth of about 2 inches above the beans.
  3. Soak for 8-10 hours or overnight, then drain and rinse the soybeans.

Pressing Techniques

Pressing is a crucial step in the nigari tofu-making process. It helps to remove excess water and forms the tofu’s desired texture. Here are some pressing techniques for making nigari tofu:

  1. Pressing for firm tofu: After coagulating the soymilk with nigari, pour the mixture into a tofu mold lined with a clean cotton cloth. Fold the free edges of the cloth over the tofu and place a wooden or plastic press lid on top. Apply pressure by putting a heavy object or weights on the lid. Press the tofu for 20-30 minutes or until the desired firmness is achieved.
  2. Pressing for silken tofu: Cool the soymilk to almost room temperature before adding the dissolved nigari. To make silken tofu, the mixture should be poured directly into molds without prior pressing. The molds should be placed in a steamer to allow the tofu to set.

When using either pressing technique, it is important to handle the tofu delicately to avoid breaking it. Understanding the right balance of pressing time, weight, and handling will help you achieve the perfect consistency for your nigari tofu.

Remember that practice makes perfect. Experimenting with different soybean varieties, soaking times, and pressing techniques will help you hone your nigari tofu-making skills and create a delicious, homemade product you can be proud of.

Research on Nigari Tofu

Nigari tofu is a type of tofu made using a special coagulating agent called nigari. This coagulant is obtained from the salt solution left behind after seawater or brines have gone through the process of salt precipitation. It consists of various elements, including magnesium, calcium, potassium, chloride, sulfate, and iodide ions 1. Nigari is favored by many tofu-makers for the slightly bitter taste and unique texture it lends to the final product.

The process of making nigari tofu starts with creating soymilk from soaked and ground soybeans. This soymilk is then heated to a specific temperature range, generally between 80-90 degrees Celsius 2. Once the soymilk reaches the desired temperature, nigari is added in a carefully measured amount. This addition causes the soymilk to coagulate, forming curds known as tofu brain.

The next step in making nigari tofu is transferring the curds into a gauze-lined mold. The mold is then pressed to remove excess liquid, known as whey, leaving behind a compact block of tofu 3. The firmness of the resulting tofu depends on multiple factors, including the amount of nigari used and the pressure applied during molding.

Research on nigari tofu has primarily focused on the nutritional aspects and potential health benefits of this food. Tofu is known for being low in calories and high in protein and fat, making it a popular choice for those seeking a healthy, plant-based food option 4. Some studies have found that nigari-set tofu may contain slightly more fat and potassium but less protein, fiber, and calcium than calcium-set tofu 5.

In the US, many people consume tofu as a meat alternative due to its satisfying texture and ability to absorb flavors when cooked. Research has shown that plant-based diets, including those that feature tofu as a primary protein source, can offer numerous health benefits such as lowering the risk of heart disease and promoting weight loss.

As a versatile, nutritious, and low-calorie food, nigari tofu continues to gain popularity and attracts ongoing research. Its unique coagulation method involving the natural salt component, nigari, sets it apart from other types of tofu and contributes to its distinct taste and texture in various dishes.


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  2. Tofu Today
  3. Tofu Today
  4. Healthline
  5. Healthline

Nigari tofu is a type of tofu made using nigari as a coagulant to turn soy milk into a solid form. Nigari, derived from seawater or brines, is a salt solution that contributes a hint of bitterness to the tofu. This coagulant is rich in minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, and various types of ions, which not only lend a slightly bitter taste but also add nutritional value to the tofu.

Tofu, which originated in China, is created from condensed soy milk pressed into solid white blocks through a process similar to cheesemaking Healthline. To make nigari tofu at home, one can start by heating soy milk until it reaches boiling point. Then, let it cool down to around 80-90 degrees Celsius. Combine 3g of nigari per 1L of soy milk with a little water, and slowly add the mixture to the soy milk, stirring it until it transforms into a tofu consistency Choo Choo Ca Chew. Pour the mixture into a gauze-lined mold to achieve the desired shape and firmness.

There are other types of coagulants that can be used in making tofu, such as calcium chloride. While calcium chloride is also found in seawater, some sources claim that using it as a coagulant results in a less pleasant taste compared to nigari 100% PURE JAPAN. Meanwhile, Nigari is praised for enhancing the natural sweetness of soybeans in tofu products.

The amount of nigari used will contribute to the firmness and texture of the tofu. Generally, 1-2 tablespoons of nigari per cup of soy milk is used for soft tofu, 2-3 tablespoons for medium tofu, and 3-4 tablespoons for firm tofu Legendary Spice MN. The firmness can be adjusted based on personal preference, and the quality of the soy milk will also influence the final product.


In conclusion, nigari tofu is a delicious and nutritious food item made by coagulating soy milk with nigari, a mineral-rich salt solution. This type of tofu enhances the natural sweetness of soybeans, while also providing an interesting and unique taste due to its slightly bitter component from the coagulant. Making nigari tofu at home is a simple process of heating, cooling, and mixing the ingredients, which allows for customization in terms of firmness and texture.