"I started making tofu after I noticed that so many of my customers were skipping dessert," says chef Douglas Keane. "They were just too full after ordering foie gras, then risotto, then a cheese course. That's not how I want to feed people." Keane, whose talent for blending European and Asian flavors won him a 2006 F&W Best New Chef award, decided to lighten his menus a bit.
Among his innovations was the house-made tofu he now serves at Cyrus and the new Shimo Modern Steak, both in the Sonoma town of Healdsburg. "Fresh tofu is surprisingly rich and creamy, yet there's nothing heavy about it," he says. Plus, he continues, it's easy to prepare at home. "Making the soy milk is the most important part," he explains. "Then you add just enough nigari (sea salts like magnesium chloride)which tastes awful straightto set the tofu without making it bitter." Follow his instructions for wonderfully eggy "tofu skins," unbelievably delicate silken tofu and the freshest firm tofu.