Saturday, May 17, 2014


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You may have seen the other yuba recipes I have shared on this blog. (See below for recipe links.)  This recipe is quite different from both the Chinese "Buddha's Roast Duck" and the two European-style stews (one with a Peruvian flair).  It's a recipe I developed for my now defunct vegan cooking newsletter, inspired by some Malaysian food I enjoyed in a Portland restaurant-- rich and spicy.

I love yuba-- it's a very versatile and satisfying food.  I hope you'll give it a try after you've read the information below and checked out the recipe.  Fortunately, you don't have to live in a city with a large Asian population anymore in order to source dried yuba sheets and sticks.  These products, and most of the other more unusual ingredients required for a recipe like this, are available online (see links in recipe ingredient list) and in Asian grocery stores, and, more recently, in many large supermarkets, as well-- check the "International" aisle.

YUBA PRIMER: Yuba (also called “bean curd skin” or 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 bean curd 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. 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, either fresh or dried and soaked, 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.

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 labeled "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.

I refer to this product by its Japanese name, yuba, because it is shorter, is becoming more universally accepted (like tofu instead of “bean curd”), and is less confusing than the various English translations from the Chinese, such as "bean milk sheets", "pressed tofu", and other confusing monikers. Yuba is a very concentrated, rich-tasting  soy food. The dried version, available in Asian markets and some large supermarkets, must be soaked in warm water before using.

Yuba products and probably usually available in Asian grocery stores, large supermarkets (in the "international" aisle), health food stores, and some delis and bulk food stores). You can order dried yuba products online, too. Amazon carries them, but the prices that I just checked today (May 17, 2020) are outrageously expensive!

SOAKING: Dried yuba MUST be soaked before it's cooked, so don't skip that step. The sticks need to be soaked an hour or two, in warm water; the sheets about 10 minutes. I have never experienced sheets not becoming flexible in that amount of time, but the sticks often have certain spots in them (usually where they were bent) that never get flexible. If you are deep-frying them, it doesn't matter. If not, just cut those parts off and discard.

(It's possible that really old yuba [like really old dried beans] won't ever rehydrate well. Try to go to a store that has a decent turnover.)

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.

Here is a history of yuba.

Here is how to make your own yuba.


Buddha's "Roast Duck"

Dried Yuba sticks

  Servings: 4
This is even better a day after making it, and a great new way to serve yuba.  If you haven’t used yuba before, please read all the information in the "Yuba Primer" in the text above.

1 pkg. (6 oz.) Chinese yuba (dried bean curd skin) "sticks" (See the "Yuba Primer" above.)     
2 Tbs peanut oil or other neutral-tasting oil
2 small red hot chilies, fresh or dried, seeds removed
2 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1 Tbs grated fresh ginger
1 tsp galangal powder (or 1 cm. piece galangal root) (This is a rhizome related to ginger, available in Asian grocery stores. Omit if you can’t find it.)          
1 tsp  turmeric
zest of one organic lemon, grated OR 1 stalk lemon grass, smashed (Most large supermarkets sell this now, and any Asian grocery store will.)
1/2 Tbs tamarind paste (also called "concentrate") 
1/4 cup coconut cream (in block form-- carries itincluding organic varieties, and so does and most Asian grocery stores, health food stores, large supermarkets, and some delis and bulk food stores)
2 1/2 cups vegetarian "chicken-style" broth (liquid measure)
6-8 oz daikon radish, peeled and cut into small chunks (Most large supermarkets sell this now, and any Asian grocery store will.)
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
If you like more heat, add some chopped green chilies.      

Soak the yuba in a large bowl of hot water until it is flexible. Drain and cut it into 1" pieces, discarding any hard bits.

Soaked yuba sticks
Soaked yuba sticks cut up for a stew
Grind together the Paste Ingredients in a food processor.

Heat the oil in a deep skillet, stir-fry pan or wok. Add the ground Paste ingredients, along with the lemon zest or lemon grass stalk. Sauté until fragrant. Add the drained yuba and stir to coat. Add the daikon, broth, tamarind, and coconut cream and stir well. Cover and simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes. Add the sugar and salt and simmer about 5 more minutes. Serve with steamed rice.



Anonymous said...

I have 2 ancient large packets of yuba sitting in my pantry. I wonder if they are still OK? I might just give this curry a go and nothing ventured, nothing gained methinks. Cheers for sharing this timely reminder that I should be going through my pantry and using what is actually IN there more often ;)

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

If it soaks nicely (as in the picture, it should be fine.

mattheworbit said...

Wow! This looks really interesting, way outside of my comfort zone, ha ha. I wanted to ask - I've never had luck with yuba - it always tastes very "beany" and "soy-y" when I make it myself, but I've generally been happy with it in restaurants. Have you ever had this problem? Maybe I'm just not soaking/rinsing enough.

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

I haven't had that problem, Matt-- even in the mild French-style stew. I always find it a rich tastwe. Maybe you would prefer it in the spicier dishes, though.

Corrin Radd said...

We made this tonight and loved it, thanks.

OverAnalyst said...

This looks wonderful! I don't wanna be that jerk that asks about unreasonable substitutions, but.... we're seriously avoiding saturated fat because husband's heart risk, so coconut cream is a massive "avoid"/splurge. Do you think it _might_ successfully be altered to sub another creamy/thick-ish substance? Whipped silken tofu? A tapioca starch & soy milk slurry? Veg sour cream?
Thanks for any pointers; of course I understand if you only trust the published version :)

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Dear OverAnalyst,
Have you ever tried whipped aquafaba (aqafaba is the broth from cooked or canned chickpeas)? You will be amazed! See this page: