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Food 101

Soybean Series: Making Yuba, or Tofu Skin

In our first soybean series post, we soaked dried soybeans and made soy milk, which is a necessary step in making other soy products, like tofu. In this post, we take the next step, which is take that fresh soy milk and make tofu skin, also called yuba in Japanese or fu pi in Chinese. 

This delicate skin is made by simply heating soy milk over low heat, and collecting the skin that forms on the top of the liquid. It is a time consuming, patience-demanding enterprise, so before proceeding, note that you've have been warned!

homemade soy milk

But the result is something that is delicious, and distinctly not tofu like. It's also quite versatile -- just by way of example, two things you can do with tofu skin include yuba sashimi, which is fresh yuba, served sashimi style (with wasabi and soy sauce) and using layers of tofu skin to create rolls, as served in dim sum. I've also had a Western-inspired dish of tofu skin, piled into a mini tower with layers of pureed olives and green beans. Simply delicious. 

If you're not sure you want to commit to this endeavor right now, you can also buy it in dried form -- look for "bean curd sheets or skin" -- and do a little experimentation with that. Or, look out for bean curd skin rolls when you're next at dim sum, or  "yuba" when you're at a Japanese restaurant. 

But the taste of fresh beancurd skin is quite different from the dried, reconstituted kind, and not to be missed.  

What You'll Need to Make Yuba / Tofu Skin 

  • Homemade soy milk 
  • Large, low saucepan -- pick something with the widest surface area
  • A single long chopstick

Patience, and the Steps  

  1. Patience is key! Prepare to hover/multi-task by the pot for some time 
  2. Bring your freshly made soy milk to just under a simmer in your wide-mouthed saucepan
  3. After a few minutes, a skin will form on the top. When you think it's ready to remove - wait just a little more. 
  4. To remove a layer, slide the chopstick under the skin to the midpoint. If the skin has stuck to the sides, you can use the chopstick to free the edges. Pull up on the skin, letting it fold in half (so that you have a semi-circle), then place on a large plate. 
  5. Repeat, continuing to pile them on a plate. 

A Quick Recipe to Enjoy Fresh Yuba

Lay a few pieces of yuba artfully on a small plate. Sprinkle chopped green onions and cilantro, then mix together a little soy sauce, fish sauce and water, then drizzle on top. Enjoy! 

yuba recipe

Coming next in the soybean series: how to make soft tofu ... 

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