Kitchn Love Letters

The Surprising $3 Fridge Staple I Use to Make No-Bake Desserts All Summer

published Jun 30, 2023
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Grocery store fridge/deli section
Credit: Tom Hoerup

I have a famous no-bake dessert that I love to make during the summer when I don’t want to turn on my oven in my tiny apartment (it can feel like a sauna!). The dessert is widely enjoyed in many parts of Asia, where hot temperatures are experienced year-round.

Exactly as the name reads, the ginger tofu dessert involves just a handful of ingredients: soy milk, ginger, and sugar. It is called “tofu” because you ultimately turn the soy milk into a tofu-like jelly if you make it from scratch. But if you’re short on time or just want a really solid shortcut, you can just buy a box of silken tofu from your Asian or local grocer and get the exact same delicious results — without much work. How good does that sound?

Credit: Michelle Tchea

What’s So Great About Superior Natural Organic Silken Tofu?

There are a lot of silken tofu brands in both Asian and now Western grocery stores, and one of my favorites is the Superior Natural Organic Silken Tofu. Not only is it organic, but it is also a little smoother and more delicate compared to other brands I’ve tried. It also holds its shape very well, even if you cut it into cubes or strips for tofu stews during the winter. 

I grew up eating this ginger-tofu dessert, and while my mom would sometimes make it from scratch (by coagulating soy milk with either ginger or agar-agar to solidify the jelly into a tofu-like consistency), she would almost always — say, nine times out of 10 — just skip this laborious step and use a packet of silken tofu instead. Decades later, this is still the way I make it no matter where I am in the world.

Credit: Michelle Tchea

What’s the Best Way to Use Superior Natural Organic Silken Tofu?

The most common ways I eat silken tofu are either straight out of the packet with a drizzle of sesame seeds and soy sauce dressing, or diced into large chunks and added to soups or stews made with either Japanese miso or Korean gochujang. And, of course, there’s this no-stress dessert.

One thing I love about this recipe is how easily it all comes together. Just remove the silken tofu straight from the packet, make a very quick, simple ginger-spiced sugar syrup with brown sugar and a couple of slices of ginger (or cane sugar, in my mom’s case), and let it cool. Then pour the ginger syrup over your silken tofu for a quick and easy dessert. 

Don’t have a simple syrup already made in the fridge (or don’t feel like making one)? No problem. You can swap for maple syrup and add a touch of cold water. The silky texture of the tofu combined with the sweetness from the syrup is the definition of a summer refreshment. 

My friends from Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia all tell me that they grew up with versions of this dessert. I’ve also seen variations on my original tofu dessert with the addition of sweet jelly noodles or sweetened red beans topped with a scoop of ice cream or dollop of cream. These riffs are incredibly indulgent and no doubt delicious, but to me the ultimate version of this is in its simplest form — unadulterated tofu-like jelly floating in a sugary-ginger syrup.

Buy: Superior Natural Organic Silken Tofu, $2.49 for 17 ounces at Weee!

Do you have a favorite shortcut for no-bake desserts? Tell us about it in the comments below.