Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sweet Tofu Pudding (Doufu Hua) 豆腐花

Doufu Hua or Sweet Tofu Pudding is something that I had relatively often as a kid. At pretty much every large family gathering, my grandma would make it as would my dad when he was craving some. For quite a while, my dad was less inclined to make it since the quality of the soybeans available weren't great thereby affecting the quality of the final product. The past few years though, we've come across some organic soybeans which have better flavor. The quality doesn't match that of my childhood, but it's the best we've found thus far. So, long story short, fresh soymilk and tofu pudding have been showing up a lot more often.
As I get older, I've really gained an appreciation for making more traditional Chinese dishes and desserts and tofu pudding is definitely one of those things that I've been wanting to learn. Tofu Pudding is something that seems very difficult to make and while it can be, the process is actually relatively simple, especially if you have the right equipment. Basically, we're making a very silky fresh tofu by adding a coagulant, gypsum powder, to homemade soymilk. The soymilk must be fresh, if not homemade because the recipe will not work with thin store bought soymilk. The resulting tofu pudding is served with sugar syrup, traditionally ginger sugar syrup, but even honey or maple syrup would work. It's definitely best served fresh, but it's also super refreshing from the fridge. I also recently tried a Filipino dessert that is basically the same thing but with tapioca called Taho and that was also super delicious.

My dad never used to measure anything when he made tofu pudding, so it was never quite the same each time, but the idea is to try to make it as flavorful but silky as possible. The thicker your homemade soymilk, the more flavorful it will be, but also the firmer your resulting pudding will be. For drinking straight, thicker soymilk has better flavor, but for tofu pudding, you need soymilk that is a little lighter. My dad and I have made it a few times with the proportions below and it's produced quite a silky, yet flavorful pudding. The quality of your soybeans does matter though, so I would use the best that you can find. We may still play around with the proportions to see if we can push it to that edge where the tofu pudding is just set, but for now, this is pretty close to perfect.

Sweet Tofu Pudding (Doufu Hua) 豆腐花
Makes About 6 Liters

1 lb of soybeans, soaked overnight in plenty of water with as many skins removed as possible
5 1/2 L of water
4 tsp gypsum powder
4 tsp potato starch

Drain the soaked soybeans. In a blender, blend the soybeans in about 4 batches or so with some of the water. Pour all the blended soybeans into a cheesecloth bag placed over a pot and squeeze out as much soymilk as possible. Pour some of the remaining water over the pulp in the cheesecloth bag and mix to rinse as much residual soymilk from the pulp as possible. Squeeze the soymilk from the pulp.

Repeat until you have used all the water. The soymilk will gradually get thinner as you continue to add water to the pulp. You may throw away the pulp or use it to make something else if you would like. Strain the soymilk one more time through the cheesecloth if you'd like to get it super smooth.

Set aside about 2 cups of the soymilk. Then bring the rest of the soymilk to a boil over medium heat. Just before it boils, whisk the gypsum powder and potato starch with the soymilk that you set aside. Pour this mixture into a pot large enough to hold all the soymilk. Once the soymilk comes to a boil, take it off the heat and pour in a continuous stream about 1 ft over the pot into the gypsum powder mixture. Quickly skim off the foam if you'd like or just do so after it has set. Do not mix.

Cover with a kitchen towel and lid and let sit undisturbed for at least an hour. Meanwhile, make the sugar syrup if using, or serve with honey, maple syrup, etc.

1 cup sugar, the type of sugar is up to you
1 cup water
A couple slices of fresh ginger(optional)

To make the sugar syrup, combine equal parts sugar and water, ginger if using, and heat over medium until the sugar is melted.

To serve, use a thin wide flat spoon to scoop the tofu pudding in a skimming motion making horizontal layers. Once you have scooped your desired amount, add some sugar syrup over the top and enjoy. Tofu pudding is best enjoyed the day it's made, but it can be refrigerated up to several days. Reheat in the microwave if desired.

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