After spending a day visiting the big sites in Yogyakarta of Borobudur and Prambanan, our second day in the city was more low-key as we set out for a cycling touring in the surrounding countryside. We spent about half a day cycling through the rice fields, visiting some local businesses along the way. Our first stop was at a small soy processing facility to see how the staple foods of tofu and tempeh are created.
To be honest I am not a huge fan of tofu, just based on personal tastes. But while in Indonesia I fell in love with its fermented counterpart, tempeh. Tempeh has more texture to it, and its something I want to try cooking more with now that I am back home.
The soybeans to make tempeh are first soaked, de-hulled and then partially roasted and then set out to cool, before they are mixed with a fermentation started and packed up to be allowed to ferment for around 24 hours.
Tofu production is a bit more involved. The soybeans need to be processed into soy milk, so first soaked and ground. The soy milk then needs to be boiled with an added coagulant (often a type of salt) which causes the proteins and oils in the soy milk to bind into a solid curd. This curd is then strained in a cheesecloth to get out the excess liquid before being pressed and then cut into squares. At this facility they were also pre-frying some of their tofu. It looked like a hot and tiring job in this small facility!
What was interesting to learn, is that the domestic soybean production is not sufficient to meet the demand for soy-based products. Plus, the soybeans apparently are not the optimal size and shape (I found this remark very curious considering the further processing that needs to happen). As a result, a lot of facilities like this are using imported soybeans from the States, in fact we spotted a bag stamped USA soybeans on our way out the door.