Friday, July 28, 2006


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Yesterday I made a recipe from my Chinese cookbook, "Authentic Chinese Cuisine for the Contemporary Kitchen"-- Buddha's "Roast Duck", a variation of my Buddha's "Chicken" recipe. I'd almost forgotten how easy it is to make, and how delicious. It makes a lovely appetizer and was gobbled up in no time. I served it with some homemade organic Chinese plum sauce I made last year, but you can use the more traditional "Duck Sauce" (see recipe at end of this blog entry).

This is NOT a Weight Watcher's Core Food Plan recipe! It's fried, to begin with, (I shallow-fried it in a skillet instead of the traditional deep-frying) and yuba (Don't know what yuba is? See about yuba below) is quite rich. This was for company. This time I had no fresh yuba, so I used dried yuba sheets, soaked, which works just fine.

Printable Recipe

Serves 4
This is a traditional yuba, or beancurd skin, recipe used by Chinese Buddhist vegetarians. It makes a delicious hot or cold appetizer. Leftovers can be chopped and used in stuffings or rice or noodle dishes.
          If you use fresh yuba, which needs no soaking, this dish is very quick to prepare. It's very easy to make, though, whether you use fresh or dried.

3 large (about 16" in diameter) round sheets fresh yuba (beancurd skin), cut in half
OR 3 large rectangular sheets dried yuba (beancurd skin)
1/3 c. mushroom bouillon, or the water from soaking dried mushrooms
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. dry sherry
3/4 tsp. organic sugar
2 tsp. dark (Asian) sesame oil
oil for shallow-frying (cold-pressed Chinese peanut oil, such as Lion&Globe Brand, is good, or you can use canola oil)

If using the dried yuba, soak the sheets (handle carefully) in warm water for 5-10 minutes, then pat them dry and cut them in half.

Mix the broth, soy sauce, sherry, sugar, and sesame oil in a small saucepan and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Pour this into a bowl and allow to cool slightly.

Spread a piece of fine cheesecloth or thin white cotton sheeting, about 12x6", over a cookie sheet. Place one half-sheet fresh or reconstituted dried yuba on this.

Brush the sheet with the soy sauce mixture. Cover with another piece of yuba and brush-- repeat until all of the yuba and sauce is used up. If there is some sauce left, pour it over the yuba and brush evenly towards the outsides.

Fold the short side in, once, and then once again, so that it is folded in thirds, and flatten lightly. I had to fold it over in half to make it fit into my steamer and skillet. Wrap it in the cloth. Tie the ends with white string. Steam the roll, covered, on a steaming try with holes over boiling water, for 10 minutes.

Remove the cloth carefully and cut the roll into 2 sections, if it seems to big to handle. Heat oil about 1/4-1/2" deep over high heat in a large, heavy skillet. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, carefully add the "package"(s), standing back to avoid splattering, and fry until golden-brown. This will take only a few seconds.

Turn over and fry the other side. It will probably puff up. Remove from the pan (you may have to use cooking tongs.

Drain the yuba on paper.

To serve, slice diagonally into thin slices on a cutting board with a sharp knife, and serve hot or cold as an appetizer.

To make MOCK PEKING DUCK, serve thinly sliced Buddha's Roast Duck with Manadarin pancakes or flour tortillas, and finely-shredded green onion. Guests place a bit of "duck" along with about 1 tsp. of "Duck Sauce" sauce (below)and a few shreds of green onion in a Mandarin pancake, roll up, and eat out of hand.

Makes about 7/8 c.

Although many recipes for "Duck sauce" call for plum sauce or hoisin sauce, the traditional sauce in China is made with brown or yellow bean paste. Serve this with Buddha's "Roast Duck".

1/2 c. water
4 T. brown bean sauce (OR use slightly watered down miso)
4 T. organic sugar
2 T. dark (Asian) sesame oil

Mix the ingredients in a small saucepan. Stir over high heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture has thickened to your liking. Chill the mixture before serving.

This photo shows a package of dried yuba, a sheet of it on the left, and the soaked yuba on the right.

YUBA OR BEANCURD SKIN ("TOFU SKIN", BEANTHREAD SKIN", TOU-P'I, DOUFU-P'I OR DOUFU-I) is considered a delicacy Japan, but is a much more common food in China and Taiwan, where each city will have a number of shops or market stalls selling only beancurd skin and products made from it. It is made by simmering soymilk and lifting off the "skin" that forms on the top, just like that on dairy milk. It's very rich and nutritious, and high in protein.

Here is a history of yuba.

Here is how to make your own yuba!

This "skin" can be used fresh, or is dried in sheets or rolled-up "sticks". The sticks are used in soups, stews, and stir-fries, and can also be barbecued. The sheets can be cut up like "noodles", or used in soups, stews, and stir-fries as well. They can be rolled around fillings and baked, steamed or fried for delicious appetizers, or used as a crispy "skin" around vegetarian poultry substitutes.

Dried Yuba

Yuba (I'm going to refer to this product by its Japanese name because it is shorter, becoming more universally accepted [like tofu instead of bean curd], and less confusing than the various English translations from the Chinese names) is a very concentrated soyfood. The dried version, more widely available in Asian markets and some large supermarkets, must be soaked in warm water for about 10 minutes before using.

Fresh sheets are also available in large cities in Chinese tofu shops, and must be frozen for future use. They often come in 16"-diameter round sheets, or semi-circular sheets. These are sometimes labelled "Fresh Spring Roll Skins or Wrappers", but are not to be confused with the wrappers made from flour. The package will tell you that the ingredients are only soybeans and water. Some varieties are very thin, some are as thick as canvas. The sheets are folded into many forms and sizes to make rolls and stuffed pouches, or molded and steamed.

The Chinese have used amazing ingenuity to create "mock meats" using yuba. In Chinese yuba shops you will find replicas of chickens, ducks, fish, hams, rolled meats, sausages links, etc., all made primarily from yuba. These dishes, with names such as Buddha's Chicken or Buddha's Duck, as served on cold plates at fine restaurants or family banquets.

Often, these "mock meats" are made from a similar product called pai-yeh, or pressed beancurd sheets or wrappers, sometimes translated as "one hundred leaves" or "one hundred pages". These are used in the same ways as yuba, but are made by pressing firm soybean curds under very heavy weights for several hours, until the sheet of beancurd looks like a 6-12" square of canvas with a clothlike pattern imprinted on both sides. The sheets are flexible and very attractive, I think. They are, unfortunately, harder to find outside of urban centers with large Chinese populations, so I have not called for this product in this book. However, should you find it, feel free to substitute it for yuba.

A thicker form of yuba is called Er-ju bean curd sheets. They are brown and come in stacks of 5 x 1 and 1/2" sheets tied together with string or wrapped in paper. They can be soaked and then cooked with soy sauce and seasonings to make a type of "ham" or "bacon".


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Anonymous said...

YUMMMMM! I LOVE THIS RECIPE!! This is my favorite from that book. I made this for company and blew them away! It was soooo easy too. It tastes so much like meat that even I was beginning to wonder if it was, lol.

Try this!

Serious vegan cuisine.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I did the Mock Peking variation with the Mandarin pancakes ... Mmmm

Wow, tons of yuba info too.

KleoPatra said...

Wow. Love the step-by-step instructions. I'm intimidated but interested... thank you!

Anonymous said...

oh awesome. i just used yuba for the first time last weekend. i made shrimp stuffed with mashed potatoes and carrots and battered and fried in a spicy tomato sauce. it was really easy to work with...but i wasn't sure whether to soak or not. mine were frozen, but not soft when they defrosted. i ran them under water and they were fine. you can see it on my LJ.


Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Very cool, kittee! How did they taste?

t. said...

Bryanna, this post is SUPERB! For the recipe, the creativity and the information provided on yuba!
Thanks a million! I am off to trying it!

Jody from VegChic said...

Thanks for the post. How funny... I just purchased some yuba sheets and sticks last week.

I looked for yuba online and never found it. Here, you link right to it.

I first tried yuba when I was traveling in NY for work. I purchased this macrobiotic meal which was yuba noodles. My guess is that it is the sticks, rehydrated and mixed with veggies and some spices/vinegars. I'd really like to duplicate the recipe, but they don't give me much to go on as far as ingredients!

This recipe you posted looks interesting as do some others I have found. Thanks again!

Celeste said...

Bryanna, the finished product looks terrifyingly real!

bazu said...


I followed your link from your post on Whatdoveganseat and your "duck" looks magnificent. Here in Syracuse, we have a Vietnamese restaurant that tops their soups with yuba, and I think that is the only way I have had it. Can't wait to try some new ways, like yours!

Anonymous said...

Hi Bryanna, I just found your site and I'm so excited to try these fantastic recipes!

I just wanted to let you know that Oriental Pantry seems to be out of business. I was looking for an online yuba source for someone else and that's how I found you. Unfortunately, the links don't work and a search for OP only netted the same results. Too bad. Luckily, I'm in San Francisco, so I can get yuba 2 blocks from my house but I feel sorry for the vegans in the midwest.

Thanks again for putting together such a delicious site! ~ Chris

Anonymous said...

i notice you only steam the roll 10 minutes, but two of my chinese vegetarian cookbooks steam it a full hour. i then realized the longer steamed rolls were served without the frying step, as a cold dish. this might be of interest to people avoiding frying. i am going to try both ways.

your website and your classic chinese cookbook is a wonderful inspriration to try cooking these mock meats. thank you.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to hear from people who've actually tried this recipe. I made it twice with two different types of yuba and it did not turn out right. And I'm a fairly experienced cook.

The result is always a somewhat flat and chewy mound of layers, which do not stick together nor expand very much, whereas the result in the picture looks like a fairly volumous and "meaty" mass. In no way did the mound swell up even near as much as is depicted in the photos. Oddly, the brand of yuba shown in the picture (clear package with red writing) yields the worst result - tough, flat and almost un-chewable.

A more extensive photo shoot is required showing how this looks close-up, cut and out of the pan. Also, the instructions are unclear regarding folding and wrapping. At first it says to fold and press, then suddenly when wrapping in cheesecloth there is talk of a "roll" for steaming, and then we again see a flat mass in the frying pan and it's referred to as a "package".

All-in-all this needs more explanation and more/better pictures showing exactly what we should be doing and how it looks in the end.

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Anonymous, I'm sorry that you haven't had success with the recipe. If you read the comments above, some posters did try it and liked it. I have made it many times and we like it, too. Here is another blogger who tried the recipe:

Perhaps you should try soaking the yuba longer or steaming it longer-- your yuba may be old and not re-hydrating well.

I will try to do more pictures and rewrite the recipe for you at some ppoint, but I simply don't have the time right at the moment. The picture of it in the pan, puffed up, is how it looks at the end of frying, and the picture above the recipe is how it looks when sliced.

Anonymous said...

I just tried this recipe. It was so delicious. I'll never again buy mock duck from the restaurant. I looking forward to try other recipies. Thank you!!