Monday, December 21, 2009

Getting the Skinny on Bean Curd Skin

When I was a young Jennifer, I used to love it when my mom would add bean curd to her soups. Already chock-full of flavour from carefully simmered pork bones, Chinese veggies and herbs, the curds didn't so much add flavour, as they did texture and substance. But before those words were in my vocabulary, I just enjoyed watching my mom take those long, dry, wrinkly curd sticks and break them over the stock pot. Soon after their immersion, they would puff into shape and become completely different entities. It was science in the kitchen. My sister and I used to call the rehydrated curds "blankets", because of the way the soft sheets floated and gathered, covering the soup's surface. And after sitting in the soup for but a few moments, they quickly absorbed the soup's flavour, making them deliciously easy to slurp up.

Nowadays, you can still buy dried bean curds sticks at most Chinese markets, but about a year ago, I discovered them fresh. At first I was puzzled as to what to do with them. They didn't look like the ones I knew. They were flat, folded, and moist! I recollected the bean curd skin dishes I'd had at some Buddhist vegetarian restaurants, and those were good but deep-fried, and deep-frying at home can get messy. Plus, bean curd skin is rich in iron and calcium, and I wanted to appreciate their nutritional value by not burning them into oblivion. Thanks to a kind lady I met at T& T, I now have a quick and flavourful recipe for fresh bean curd skin. Thanks again kind lady wherever you are!
  • Cut the fresh bean curd into squares.
  • In a small bowl, mix equal amounts of soy sauce and *oyster sauce. Add enough water to make the sauce a little runny.
  • Cut up some green onion and cilantro.
  • Heat up a frying pan on medium heat with a little oil.
  • Using chopsticks, dip the bean curd squares into the sauce, place them in the pan, and sprinkle on the cilantro and green onions.
  • Once the bean curds are cooked through, eat them hot over a bed of steaming white rice. So good...
(*I like to use Lee Kum Kee brand Vegetarian Mushroom Flavoured Stir-Fry Sauce. It's a tasty, MSG-free oyster sauce alternative.)

Bean curd is made from the skin that forms at the surface when soybeans are boiled to make soy milk. This skin is skimmed off and formed into dried bean curd sticks or sheets, or fresh bean curd skin. Fresh bean curd skin can be bought at T&T Supermarket in the refrigerated section. The Honaji brand is my favourite. They use non-GMO soy beans and are a local company situated in Coquitlam. They make other soy products as well including tubs (now that's thinking!) of sweetened soft tofu dessert.

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