Yuba and Soymilk: A Soybean Beginners Manual Vol. 1

Just so you know, this article is really about yuba, I just figured that while we’re here some you might be interested in turning the rest into soymilk.

Any description I could give of yuba would be superfluous next to the closing paragraph in Christa Weil’s gastrologue Fierce Food:

In flavor, it most closely resembles a slightly sweet, slippery, ultrathin ravioli or wonton that lost it’s filling… wholesome, light, and yet deeply warming. It is the food equivalent of a goose-down duvet.

Yuba is, essentially, the skin that develops on warm, freshly made soymilk. One of the simplest foods, and one of the best. The hardest part is waiting. It takes about 10 minutes for the first skin to develop, which means yuba isn’t really a dish you can serve at a dinner party or sit down and eat. I tend to think of making yuba as an opportunity for culinary meditation.

-1 cup dried soybeans (can be hard to find, check little Asian stores and Earth Fare)

-lots and lots of water

-1 lime for zesting

-soy sauce for dipping

Place your beans in a mixing bowl and rinse ‘em good. Swish your hands around in there, if the water gets cloudy change it and rinse some more until the water is clean.

Replace the water one  last  time and let the beans soak overnight.

The next morning they’ll be about twice as big and the water will be cloudy. Drain the beans and rinse them like you did yesterday. Remove any skins or non-bean items that you happen to notice floating around. After they’re nice and clean, drain all the remaining water and place them in a pot with 4 cups of water. Now get out your immersion blender (if you have a stand-up blender just put the beans and water in there.)

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Blend until the beans are very finely ground, maybe the texture of sand. Skim off the foam that develops until you reach the cream colored puree. Bring this to a boil on a medium heat, then turn it down to a scant simmer for at least 20 minutes. Leave the lid on, but stir often and continue to remove any white foam. You’ll know it’s ready when the aroma changes from beany to sweet.

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Pour all of this through butter muslin or a double layer of cheese cloth set in a colander over a bowl to strain out the solids (this is called okara and has many uses here) from the soymilk. When it gets cool enough to handle, give it a good squeeze to get the last of the liquid out.

Pour this liquid into a smaller pot and turn on very, very low. You don’t want any bubbles. Slowly yet surely a skin will develop. As the first skin is forming, grate a little lime zest into a small bowl and add a splash of soy sauce. This will take one to two minutes.

Now comes the meditation: Look at the soymilk: Are there bubbles? If so, turn it down; if not, good job. Is there a little bit of steam? Good. Blow gently on the soymilk, does it shimmer? If it doesn’t yet it will soon. Inhale deeply, smell the rich, almost earthy sweetness. Imagine that smell condensed. You’re about to eat that smell. Is it ready yet? Well that didn’t take too long. If not, take the opportunity to write a haiku. If I can do it, so can you.

Skin on the soymilk

some may scoff, but I know you are

warm deliciousness.  

Nudge around the edge of the skin to disconnect it from the bowl. Be gentle, you don’t want to tear it. When it’s all loose, open your chopsticks wide and pick up the yuba from the middle. Drape it into the dish of soy. How much soy you want is up to you, of course. Be quick, though, don’t let it get cold. Now put the whole thing in your mouth. It’s going to feel weird. Asian food tends to have a lot more textural variety than Western food. Think of this as an acquired texture. Just think of all the flavors mingling in your mouth and the feeling of pure soy goodness. The next one won’t take nearly as long. If you’re feeling very patient, you could make a meal out of this.

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Or you could use the rest to make delicious homemade soymilk. Just add:

-1 to 2 Tablespoons sugar or whatever sweetener you like. I’m a honey man, myself.

to your soymilk and call it a day.

Of course there is always the third option: From here you’re only a few simple steps away from awesome homemade tofu. We’ll go over that a little later.

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5 thoughts on “Yuba and Soymilk: A Soybean Beginners Manual Vol. 1

  1. veganmiam says:

    I am a huge fan of yuba! Thank you for sharing a delicious beverage! I always drink those kinds when I was a kid.

    vegan miam
    http://www.veganmiam.com

  2. I love yuba! I have never attempted to make it at home though; I’m so impressed! Thanks for the recipe, tips, and inspiration. 🙂

  3. Jacob says:

    Thanks Allison, if I’m impressing you then I must be doing something right! Btw, I’ll be posting my firm tofu recipe next weekend (the 2nd) and soft tofu two weeks after that.

  4. […] cup soymilk or milk (or heavy cream if you’re feeling […]

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