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Robin Garr

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NYT article on yuba (fresh bean curd skin) has me obsessed!

by Robin Garr » Sun Aug 06, 2006 10:15 pm

The New York Times Magazine food article today really caught my attention. It's about yuba, a Japanese ingredient that's made, essentially, by skimming off and drying the skin that forms atop boiling soy milk during the tofu-making process. Sounds kind of ... bleah ... but the author, Daniel Patterson, who's owner/chef of Coi restaurant in San Francisco, really made it sound interesting, and I'd like to both play with some and taste some at a local ethnic eatery.

I've got my doubts whether it can be found here, though, at least not in fresh form. I'm pretty sure I could dig up the dried version at larger Asian markets here, but fresh? Dunno. Patterson says it only lasts for a few days.

I found a source for the dried at an online store in Massachusetts called The Oriental Pantry for only $2.19 a package, but shipping would quadruple that, and I want fresh. The San Francisco company mentioned in the article, Hodo Soy Beanery, sells it at farmer's markets in the Bay Area, but their Website doesn't show anything about offering it mail-order.

Yuba is also sold as fu jook pei in Chinese groceries, evidently.

Anyway, here's a link to the NYT story (free registration required) ...
The Way We Eat: I Can't Believe It’s Tofu.

If any of you have leads to online sources for fresh (or for that matter, local sources in Louisville), please pipe up. As you can see, I'm obsessed! :oops:
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Stuart Yaniger

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Re: NYT article on yuba (fresh bean curd skin) has me obsessed!

by Stuart Yaniger » Sun Aug 06, 2006 10:57 pm

Dried is not at all the same thing. Make your own; it takes time, but it's go-away-and-let-it-cook time.

First, you have to make some soy milk, unless you can get fresh, unprocessed stuff. Soak a cup of top quality dried soybeans overnight, then drain/rinse. Measure out a quart (liter) of water. Using a blender or food processor, and working in small batches, puree the beans, adding water to smooth things out. Combine batches and any remaining water, bring to a boil, then strain through cheesecloth, really pressing the lees to get all the good stuff out.

Bring the filtered liquid back to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat.

To make the yuba, pour some soymilk into an 8-10" sautee pan over low heat- you don't want the soymilk to boil, but you want it to be very hot and losing water. Don't stir.

After heating away for 15 minutes or so, you'll see a yuba skin. Using a chopstick and fingers, try to separate it from the side of the pan and lift it out. With practice, you'll be able to slide the chopstick under the skin and lift it in the manner of a rolling pin lifting pie dough. Each pour of milk should yield 4 or 5 skins before getting too dry and thick. The leftovers on the bottom of the pan are quite yummy- chef's privilege. After gorging, put the next pour of soymilk in and keep going until you've got an impressive pile of yuba.

Very delicate flavor and texture. The water to bean ratio and the cooking time will cause large variations- experiment.
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Re: NYT article on yuba (fresh bean curd skin) has me obsessed!

by Bob Ross » Sun Aug 06, 2006 11:15 pm

Stuart, do you have any advice on soy milk makers?

I took a look at http://www.soymilkmaker.com/ which looks pretty simple to use.

Or, is it better to follow your approach?

I'm trying to get more soy in my diet, and like Robin, made a copy of the yuba article. But making the milk and then making the yuba -- I don't know if it's worth the time.

Thanks for any advice. Bob
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Re: NYT article on yuba (fresh bean curd skin) has me obsessed!

by Robin Garr » Sun Aug 06, 2006 11:29 pm

Stuart Yaniger wrote:Dried is not at all the same thing. Make your own; it takes time, but it's go-away-and-let-it-cook time.


Excellent, thanks, Stuart! I'm not sure when I'll have time for this - fall, probably. But this looks like a keeper, and I love the idea of making my own.
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Re: NYT article on yuba (fresh bean curd skin) has me obsessed!

by Robin Garr » Sun Aug 06, 2006 11:32 pm

Bob Ross wrote:like Robin, made a copy of the yuba article.


I should have known I wasn't the only guy around here who was smitten by that article! I wish they would use articles from chefs more often.

By the way, Bob, the curried summer-squash recipe looked so good that I couldn't resist making it today, <i>even though I didn't have any yuba</i>. I substituted short lengths of pasta and did a few other changes to make it my own (added a little fresh plum tomato and a little saffron to bring up the color, and held back about one-fourth of the squash in small cubes to add in toward the end and just cook through, to add some textural interest since I reasoned that the pasta wouldn't be the same as yuba. But it was a big winner ... great stuff, and I'm sure the original would be, too. I'll probably write up my version in Thursday's FoodLetter, along with a link back to Stuart's recipe.
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Re: NYT article on yuba (fresh bean curd skin) has me obsessed!

by Bob Ross » Sun Aug 06, 2006 11:45 pm

Great Robin. I was focusing on making the soy milk -- haven't found a reliable source in my area yet -- my pizza using your recipe and Stuart reccomended flour, and Bob Parson's Wine of the Month.

Love your idea -- but there's only so much an OF can accomplish on a beautiful Sunday afternoon?

I look forward to your article, and will figure out the soy milk problem in due course I'm sure.

Regards, Bob
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Re: NYT article on yuba (fresh bean curd skin) has me obsessed!

by Paul Winalski » Mon Aug 07, 2006 12:35 am

One of these days, when I have the time, I'll have to follow Stuart's directions on how to make yuba skins.

Tofu is made by curdling the protein in soy milk, usually by adding a small amount of gypsum. Stuart's process achieves much the same result using heat. In the tofu process, too, a skin forms that can be carefully separated. Dried tofu skins are available in well-stocked oriental grocery stores. I think I've seen fresh skins in a Boston Chinatown market, but I wasn't really paying attention.

The dried skins can be soaked in water to soften them, and then used as one might use rice paper or spring roll skins as a wrapper for various yummy ingredients. I have a recipe for a spring roll-style dumpling wrapped in tofu skins and deep-fried. It's called Tinkling Bells, supposedly after the sound that's made when you bite into the very crunchy fried bean curd skin.

The dried skins are extremely fragile. If you're into making your own tofu, I'd say the fresh skins are easier to work with. It sounds like it's on the order of making fresh crepes or fresh spring roll skins.

-Paul W.
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Re: NYT article on yuba (fresh bean curd skin) has me obsessed!

by Stuart Yaniger » Mon Aug 07, 2006 1:13 am

Bob Ross wrote:Stuart, do you have any advice on soy milk makers?

I took a look at http://www.soymilkmaker.com/ which looks pretty simple to use.


Holy cow, they'll make a gadget to do anything!

The diy approach really isn't that terribly intensive- you can easily do it while you're doing the rest of the dinner preparations, then add the yuba when appropriate.
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Re: NYT article on yuba (fresh bean curd skin) has me obsessed!

by Bob Ross » Mon Aug 07, 2006 1:21 am

Thanks. I'll give it a go.
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Re: NYT article on yuba (fresh bean curd skin) has me obsessed!

by Dale Williams » Mon Aug 07, 2006 3:07 pm

Bob Ross wrote: made a copy of the yuba article. But making the milk and then making the yuba -- I don't know if it's worth the time.


Bob,
do you especially want to make your own? In NYC metro area yuba is pretty available (certainly a detour to Edgewater next time you go over GW would get you some). If you can't find some let me know - might have to make a trip to N. Haledon or Wood-ridge (is it really hyphenated?) next week, could drop some for you.
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Re: NYT article on yuba (fresh bean curd skin) has me obsessed!

by Bob Ross » Mon Aug 07, 2006 6:14 pm

North Haledon is a couple miles from our house Dale. Have a source there? Thanks. Bob
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Re: NYT article on yuba (fresh bean curd skin) has me obsessed!

by Jenise » Mon Aug 07, 2006 8:55 pm

Interesting discussion. When out for dim sum, the bean curd rolls are my favorite item of all, I absolutely adore them and I've tried to work with the dried sheets, but as Paul said they're fairly fragile and I did not succeed at duplicating restaurant textures. I'm completely unfamiliar with bean curd skin in Japanese cooking, however: has anyone here ever been served it in a Japanese restaurant?
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Re: NYT article on yuba (fresh bean curd skin) has me obsessed!

by Stuart Yaniger » Tue Aug 08, 2006 12:39 am

There are several different types of dried tofu sheets- perhaps you were using the wrong ones?

Anyway, re yuba, I first had it in Kyoto and was rather impressed. A soft creamy texture, subtle nutty flavor, just a hint of rubberiness, slightly reminiscent of a fresh bufala mozzerella (a peeled layer), or maybe shark's fin cooked in cream. Or the thinnest, most delicate pasta you could imagine.
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Re: NYT article on yuba (fresh bean curd skin) has me obsessed!

by Jenise » Tue Aug 08, 2006 7:50 am

Stuart, I don't know which kind I had--I bought them at the market where I bought my favorite tofu at (always still warm). I recall that Loofburrouw was around then and discussed the situation with me, and we concluded that the restaurant technique probably involved frying then braising the stuffed curd roll. Best as I recall they did seem like they'd get there if I just got the steps and timing right, and neither Brian nor I suspected I didn't have the right kind. But that's as much as I can tell you.

I'm very impressed, by the way, that you know how to make the sheets yourself. A question: will the boiling soy milk only produce X amount of skin, or will it keep producing skin if you keep cooking it?
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Re: NYT article on yuba (fresh bean curd skin) has me obsessed!

by Stuart Yaniger » Tue Aug 08, 2006 8:38 am

You keep getting skins until the milk gets too dry. Figure 4 or 5 skins for each pour into the sautee pan, if you do one inch deep pours.
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Re: NYT article on yuba (fresh bean curd skin) has me obsessed!

by Dale Williams » Tue Aug 08, 2006 2:43 pm

Bob Ross wrote:North Haledon is a couple miles from our house Dale. Have a source there? Thanks. Bob

No, Bob, I thought I might go there on a job errand and thought if you needed I could drop off some fresh yuba for you (we have good Japanese and Asian markets in Westchester). But I just found someone who picked up the sleeping bags for me, saved me the trip. Sorry!
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Re: NYT article on yuba (fresh bean curd skin) has me obsessed!

by Bob Ross » Tue Aug 08, 2006 3:41 pm

No problem, Dale, thanks for the thought. I'm going to give Stuart's recipe a shot -- might keep me off the streets for a few minutes. :-)

Thanks again, Bob

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