Unusual Ingredient: Dried Beancurd Skin
Now that the Easter holidays are over, it’s time to experiment with new foods again, especially vegetarian foods. I know a lot of people are trying to cut back on meat, but it’s hard if you don’t have a good selection of vegetarian recipes. I personally like soybean products like tofu and soy milk, but have you ever tried any recipes with beancurd skin?
According to what I’ve read, beancurd skin is also known as yuba and it is the skin that forms when soymilk is boiled. It is sold in sheets or in rolled form and it can be dried or fresh. Before cooking the dried kind, you need to soften it in water. After it is hydrated the texture is somewhat chewy (which takes a little getting used to), but it absorbs flavors very well in simmered dishes and it can also be fried until crispy. The chewiness of the beancurd skin makes it a good substitute for meat and when it is rolled into a log-shape, it is sometimes called “duck” in Chinese dishes.
Today, I prepared dried beancurd two ways: simmered in stock and stir-fried with Chinese broccoli. I think this ingredient has a lot of potential for vegetarian dishes because it is high in protein and has a chewy texture that is kind of “meaty.”
The Japanese are fond of wrapping things, so I’m going to wrap carrots and asparagus in beancurd skin.
After soaking the sheets in water for 15 minutes, they will be pliable to use. Cut off the rough edges to make rectangles. Place the vegetables in the middle and roll.
After rolling it, you can cut off the sides to fit it into a small 2-3 quart pot. Simmer in stock.
Vegetables Wrapped in Beancurd Skin
Serves 2 as a side dish
2 dried bean curd sheets
4 asparagus stalks, ends removed
1 large carrot, peeled and cut lengthwise into 4 long pieces
For the Stock:
1 cup water
1 piece of kombu seaweed
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon sake
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1. Make the stock by bringing the water and kombu to a gentle boil. Remove the kombu. Add the sugar and sake to the stock.
2. Place the dried beancurd sheets in a shallow pan filled with water. Let them soak for 15 minutes. Drain and dry on paper towels. Cut the sheets into rectangles, cutting off any jagged edges. If the rectangles are large, cut them in half. Place 2 asparagus stalks and 2 pieces of carrots in each rectangle and roll them into a log.
3. Trim the rolls to fit into the pot in one layer with the stock. Bring the stock to a gentle boil. Simmer for 5-7 minutes. Just before the vegetables are tender, add the soy sauce. Simmer for 5 more minutes. Carefully lift the rolls and cut them into 2-inch pieces. Serve with a little stock poured over the top.
In the second recipe, I cut the beancurd into strips so they could be stir-fried.
Stir-fried Beancurd with Chinese Broccoli
2 dried beancurd sheets
1/2 pound of Chinese broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 dried red peppers
1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
oil for frying
1. Soak the dried beancurd sheets in a shallow pan filled with water for 15 minutes. Drain and dry on paper towels. Cut the sheets into strips.
2. Heat the oil in a wok. Add the garlic and peppers and fry for 30 seconds; add the broccoli and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Add the beancurd strips and stir-fry for 5 more minutes. Add the soy sauce, sugar and salt. Stir until heated through.