Yuba, the Delicious Reward from Soy Milk

Yuba, the Delicious Reward from Soy Milk

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Christine Gallary
Sep 25, 2015

I didn't really know what yuba was until recently. I'd dismissed it as a trendy ingredient aimed towards those on special diets, but it turns out I've been eating it ever since I was a kid!

One of my favorite dim sum dishes is the stuffed bean curd rolls that are fried and steamed with a delicious sauce. I also grew up eating jai, a Chinese vegetarian stew eaten during the Chinese Lunar New Year. Turns out that a key ingredient in both dishes is yuba!

Fresh yuba sheets cut into "noodles."
(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

How Yuba Is Made

Yuba is the skin that forms on the surface as soy milk cooks and proteins and fats rise to the top. It's a time-consuming process since the soy milk has to be cooked gently over a constant low heat, and each skin takes about 25 minutes to form. I liken it a bit to the skin that forms on the top of pudding if nothing touches the surface of the pudding.

(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

The Different Forms of Yuba

Fresh Yuba

Once yuba sheets form, they can be folded, layered, and sold fresh. Fresh yuba is also sold marinated or seasoned, and it should be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container so it doesn't dry out. Fresh yuba can usually be found at healthy, specialty, or Asian grocery stores in the tofu section.

Dried Yuba

The more common version of yuba is dried. Yuba can be dried into sheets or sticks, and you'll see it also labeled as beancurd sticks, bean curd skin, dried tofu skin, fu zhi, tofu sheets, or bamboo tofu. Dried yuba is sold in the dried goods section of Asian grocery stores.

Dried yuba sticks.
(Image credit: Emily Han)

Cooking with Yuba

What does yuba taste like? Yuba is mild, chewy in texture, nutty in taste, and delicate but resilient at the same time. It readily soaks up flavorings and takes well to dressings and sauces. Fresh yuba can be eaten as is with no further cooking, so it's great to use it like noodles in salads or as fresh spring roll wrappers.

Dried yuba needs to be rehydrated before using. Sticks should be soaked in water for a few hours, but sheets just need to be hydrated with a damp towel or dipped quickly in water first.

Once rehydrated, yuba can be used as wrappers, stir-fried, braised, or even deep-fried. It's a satisfying, high-protein vegan and gluten-free option that's really versatile; it's able to play a starring role or just be in the background of a stew or stir-fry.

I recently tossed fresh yuba that I cut into "noodles" with baby kale and a sesame-tahini dressing, and I loved how it soaked up the creamy dressing and became a really satisfying but not heavy vegan lunch! I'll also happily keep ordering my beloved bean curd rolls every time I go out for dim sum.

What do you like to make with yuba?

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