As conscious as I am in health and nutrition, I very much enjoy the occasional helping of meat protein. But when it comes to tofu, or any of its related members, I almost have an obsession, one of my weaknesses in craving for something that is actually healthy for you!
Strolling along the aisles in the local Chinese market, I spotted the item that I have always had the urge to use it as part of my experimental creations, the "Tofu Skin", or known as "Yuba" in a Japanese dictionary of gastronomy. The name of it almost sounds distasteful, but for those who dim sum often, this should not come across as a cosmic matter, if it is not already among the items on your favourite list.
Tofu Skin a Chinese and Japanese food product made from soybeans. During the boiling of soy milk, in an open shallow pan, a film or skin composed primarily of a soy protein-lipid complex forms on the liquid surface. The films are collected and dried into yellowish sheets known as tofu skin or soy milk skin. Because it is derived directly from soy milk, it can be used as part of a lazy trick to homemade soy milk!
Carrying a rich scent from soybeans, Tofu Skins also carry a nutritional property that no other soy product does. Due to its high density, 100 grams of it consists of 14 grams of fat (mostly polyunsaturated), 50 grams of carbohydrate and over 25 grams of protein, providing all the essential amino acids. Along with other micronutrients, Tofu Skins and other soy products have gradually become important protein sources for vegetarians and vegans.
Tofu skin may be purchased in fresh or dried form, in the latter case, the tofu skin is rehydrated in water before use. Its uses in the U.S. is very much limited, but a trip to China has enlightened my knowledge on the versatility of this flavourful ingredient, from stir-frying to braising, as a textual component of a soup to the sculptural centre of a hors d'oeuvres, the possibilities are endless.
Apart from the versatility of the product itself, I was intrigued to learn that Tofu Skins can be made with the darker cousin of the pale yellow soybean, the black soybean which is often found fermented in the making of black bean and garlic sauce. Its mysteriously dark hilum is to disguise its youthful green flesh. The black tofu skin is one item that I must try during my next visit to the Mainland China.
The innocent looking yet flavourful tofu skin, is the masterpiece of the experimental yet skillful artist:
Soaked beans are cooked in boiling water.
Soaked beans are sent to the the traditional stone grinder fixed with an electric motor to break apart the cooked beans and extract the nectar from within.
The fresh soy milk is poured into specially designed shallow woks.
Temperature of the soy milk is kept at 95oC within the woks, and the temperature difference between the milk and the exposed interface with the surrounding air will promote Tofu Skin formation.
The freshly made Tofu Skin is gently released from the sides of the woks, and hanged over a wooden rod to dry
With this ingredient comes my vegan invention. Please visit my blog again as the recipe will be posted shortly!