Heiwa Soybeanery in Belfast, ME

Mainer Jeff Wolovitz founded Heiwa tofu in 2009 because, as he says on his website, “This business combines my need to sustain my family and my passion and contribution to the local food economy.”

That’s cool, but does his tofu taste any different than the next? We were skeptical, only because tofu is pretty mild-tasting to begin with.  Often reduced to a poorly executed protein option for vegetarians, or the dreaded tofu scramble of college coffee shops, deep down, we know tofu deserves better than the treatment it sometimes gets stateside.  Where would we be without mapo tofu, agedashi tofu, or soondubu jjigae?  One shudders to think.

We decided we’d try some of Jeff’s tofu, cook with it, and see if it really tasted any different than the stuff we have readily available to us in Chinatown daily.  Actually, it does.  Slightly nutty, totally clean-tasting, and none of that weird metallic tang you get in commercial tofu, this stuff is sweet and gentle, tastes a little like fresh peas, and is a bit firmer than your regular tofu in water, making it awesome at holding its shape after it’s cut and cooked.  It might have something to do with the organic, non-gmo Maine soybeans he’s using, the fact that each batch is handmade by him and his wife, or that it’s made and delivered super fresh.  Or maybe it’s all of these things.  We just know that it’s the first tofu we’ve tasted that’s made us turn our heads–and some of us are sneaking cubes of it home on a regular basis to cook with now.

Jeff also sounds like a cool guy.  On his site, it says he ” mostly stays busy with the business, but also teaches West African drum classes. When he’s not working, he loves to cook for his family, tend to his vegetable garden and his fruit trees, put up food for the winter, forage wild mushrooms, and go fishing for mackerel and squid.”  Hey Jeff, you stole my dream life.  Minus maybe the drum classes.

Heiwa Tofu comes in a six-pack of 1# cubes, and is available now.  We are taking in fresh shipments weekly.

By Diego Maldonado