Tag Archives: japan

Yuba Delight


It was my intent to have a Japanese inspired vegan feast.

But not everything I assembled ended up making it into the dinner. The dried rice cakes will have to wait until next time. The bubble tea I planned to make turned into serving fresh blueberries, and apparently you don’t prepare tapioca pearls by boiling them unless you intend to make a gummy shapeless mess. I also didn’t use the rice vinegar.

So I’ll start with the star of the show- Yuba Rolls! Here are instructions you can use to make them yourself, but I can’t help you if you can’t find the yuba.

First, cut the carrots and shred the shittakes, then fry them together until only partly softened.

Then fry green beans for just a few minutes. Lay out a yuba sheet. If they stick together or are hard, rinse them under water, then pat them dry. Mix some maple syrup with soy sauce and water. Brush a little of this onto the yuba. Put the green beans and carrots next to each other and roll it up.

Do the same thing, but put the first rolled up yuba roll inside this second roll! Then do that again, with this second larger roll going into the third roll! Then, roll the third roll into the fourth along with the green beans and carrots every time.

There were 8 sheets in my yuba pack, so I used 4 sheets for each final roll.

Then fry them for about 5 minutes per side like a grilled burrito. After that, put a little water in the pan and cover it to steam them. Keep that up until the water is gone.

Serve on a fancy plate with a basil leaf.

While I was preparing these, I also made a stir fry by combining finely chopped sweet onion with quartered green Thai eggplant (the little round ones). Add some hot chili oil. I fried it for a few minutes then covered it and forgot about it while working on the yuba rolls. Once it was almost done, I added tofu. My plan was to add the, what I thought at the store was bok choy, but was actually mustard greens.

I cooked the mustard greens separately in a cast iron in order to cook them down enough to fit with the eggplant/tofu. It didn’t seem like it would fit, so I added hoison sauce and tamarind paste to it.

I added basil to the tofu/eggplant.

I served it all on fancy plates with a side of blueberries.

It all turned out better than expected, and that’s even with the colds my husband and I have that makes it difficult for us to taste much.

The yuba wasn’t salty at all! It barely had any flavor, but it was really easy to work with. Much easier than spring roll wrappers, and about as easy as a large flour tortilla. I would definitely make yuba rolls again!


Tofu in Japan


In the February 2010 issue of Bon Appetit, I read an article called Kyoto’s Tofu Obsession. This article stuck with me. I have never traveled anywhere on the continent of Asia, but I think I have found the first place that I want to go. I like tofu. I am not crazy about tofu, but I eat it every couple of weeks. The tofu in Kyoto is handmade daily, has been perfected over centuries and is nothing like the tofu anywhere else. Tofu making there is an art form. The article works to break the stereotype of tofu eaters as skinny, liberal hippies, and states that tofu is beloved by construction workers and truck drivers. This I gotta see.

There are several varieties of tofu in Kyoto. I liken it to varietals of wine. Each seems subtly different from the next, but they are all recognizable as the same basic thing.

Everything about the area seems calm, industrious, and full of flavors, smells and sights.

The types of tofu and styles of preparation is immense, and reminds me a little bit of Forrest Gump’s friend Bubba describing the ways to prepare shrimp. Yudofu, boiled tofu, and yuba, or tofu skin, are particularly interesting to me.

I tried yuba once at the legendary Chicago brunch spot, M Henry. To me, it just tasted salty.

But since I can’t get to Japan any time soon, I will attempt (in a very rudimentary and limited way) to bring it to my kitchen.

My husband and I went to an Asian market, and I asked a clerk, “Do you carry yuba?” He replied, “You mean soba?” I said, “No, yuba. Tofu skin” He said, “Yes, we carry it soft or hard. Which kind would you like?” Me, “I’m not sure….” Him, “Well, which kind do you cook?” I replied, “I don’t, or haven’t.” He sort of rolled his eyes, and I ended up with the soft kind that was in the freezer. I’m glad I did, because that’s exactly what is called for in the recipe Yuba Rolls in newest issue (December 2011) of Vegetarian Times that just came to my door. I had no recipe or idea in mind when I bought it, but now I will try a modification of this one.

My husband selected some fried tofu, Thai green eggplant (yum!), and bok choy, and I picked out some rice noodles. So it will be. Stir fry and yuba rolls. Hopefully we can someday try a much better version of this recipe in Japan.