Yuba

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The name given to the sweet tasting skin, composed of a soy protein-lipid complex, that forms on soy milk after it has been heated and then cooled. It is used as a popular addition to Asian soups or as a food wrapper. Once the skin forms over the soy milk and is removed, it is either sold fresh or is allowed to dry into stiff sheets before it is sold. If dried yuba skins are to be used as a food wrapper, they must be soaked in water prior to use. The re-hydrated sheets become soft and supple after soaking, allowing them to be shaped around various ingredients.

Vegetarians and vegans used yuba sheets as a meat substitute similar to the way tofu is used. Because of the rubbery, pliable texture of yuba (when fresh or when re-hydrated), it is often sold in folded, wrapped, or bunched forms that can be sliced and eaten as is or sautéed with other ingredients to provide more flavor.

Yuba sheets can be wrapped around skewers or chopsticks and then steamed. When cooked in this manner, the yuba forms a log shape. It is removed from the skewer or chopstick; then it is sliced and served. The hole in the center of the slices (the void formed by the removal of the skewer or chopstick) resembles old Chinese coins that were of a similar shape.

Yuba skins can be bunched and layered in such a fashion as to resemble a piece of chicken. When it is fried, allowing one side to become very crispy, it takes on the appearance of a chicken thigh or slice of chicken breast that has been fried with the skin on.

With patience, yuba sheets can be made at home with the use of a large shallow non-stick pan. Simply boil soy milk; then carefully lift the film that forms on the surface. Place the sheets on lightly greased baking sheets or on waxed paper to dry. After the sheets have dried, the can be sliced for use in soups or soaked in water briefly to use a food wrapper. Once the dried yuba has been added to soup or soaked in water to use as a food wrapper, the sheets become somewhat rubbery in texture but hold up well.

Yuba is also known as “dried bean curd” or “tofu skin.” The name, tofu skin is really not an accurate designation for yuba, because the yellow sheets of yuba are collected from soy milk, not tofu.

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