Sunday, January 5, 2014
To-Fu-Fa (Tofu Pudding) with Ginger Syrup 豆腐花 is one of my favorite Chinese Style dessert that I've got to order every time I go to Dim-Sum restaurants. I crave for this dessert from time to time. When I go for Dim Sum on the weekends with my family, I always make sure this dessert is available so I that I can save some room for it. It’s a very comforting dessert, smooth and not overly sweet. The silky softness and melt in the mouth texture always melts me away. Unfortunately, not many restaurants offer this traditional dessert any more.
Traditionally, this To-Fu-Fa is made with culinary grade Gypsum Powder (食用石膏粉) to solidify the soy milk. Since most of us won’t have access to gypsum powder, and I always doubted the safety on the consumption, even when they say "culinary grade"! So, I tested my recipe with a safer alternative ingredient. And the secret ingredient is…agar-agar. Agar-Agar is derived from algae, and the solidify powder releases when it reaches boiling point. Why did I use agar-agar and not gelatin? Since agar-agar is a plant base ingredient, verses gelatin is derived from collagen obtained from various animal by-products, using agar-agar in this recipe will be perfect for anyone, including my vegan friends.
See the picture below? Yup, this To-Fu-Fa is super soft and barely solidify, that’s the consistency you want to obtain for this dessert. What’s the secret to do that? Using the exact amount of Agar-Agar in ratio of the liquid, in this case fresh soy milk. If you use too much agar, the texture would be too hard and bouncy, not good for this type of dessert. On the other hand, your dessert won’t form/solidify if you use too little agar. But I've done the leg work for you and tested out the perfect amount to use so you don’t have to go through eating bouncy To-Fu-Fa. And you're very welcome!
Since I don’t have the soy milk machine, I took a short-cut and use store bought organic fresh soy milk from the Chinese supermarket, which are widely available these days. The perfect way to enjoy To-Fu-Fa is drizzle some ginger syrup on top and spoon away. I can totally skip the dim-sum restaurant and just enjoy this To-Fu-Fa at home! You can enjoy this dessert chilled or, do what I did. Put it in the microwave for a minute to warm up. hm…perfect for a cold winter night. I hope you like today’s recipe and recipe tips. Stay tuned for some Chinese New Year (January 31st, 2014) recipes coming out on the blog soon.
1/12/2014 Update: Since quite a few of you asked about the brand of Agar Agar powder that I used. Below is a picture of the one that I used. After looking at it closer, the Chinese translation on the package does say the brand is “Golden Trophy”. Click here to the link for a similar product that you can get online if you can’t find this in your local supermarkets.
Homemade Tofu Pudding (To-Fu-Fa) with Ginger Syrup 自家製豆腐花:
Ingredients for the Tofu Pudding:
8 cups (64 oz) organic unsweetened fresh soy milk
1 1/2 teaspoon agar agar powder
6 tablespoons raw sugar (you can add a little more if you prefer a sweeter tofu base)
Ingredients for the Ginger Syrup:
1 cup water
2 inches of fresh ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced
3 ounces of Chinese Cane sugar (片糖)
To prepare the Tofu Pudding:
In a small saucepan, heat 2 cups of soy milk, agar agar, and raw sugar on medium high until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Stirring constantly to make sure all the sugar and agar agar are dissolved completely.
Place the remaining soy milk in a large mixing bowl. Place a strainer over the mixing bowl. Pour the agar agar mixture into the mixing bowl through the strainer to remove any skin formed in the soy milk while heating. Gently stir to combine. Evenly divided into small bowls or containers you prefer to use. Refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours and preferably overnight.
To prepare the ginger syrup:
In a small saucepan, heat the water, the ginger slices and cane sugar on medium high heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let it cook for 15 minutes. This will give enough time for the ginger to infuse the syrup. Then, remove from heat and let the ginger syrup cool completely. Remove the ginger slices and store syrup in the refrigerator until ready to use.
To serve, simply pour a little ginger syrup on top of the To-Fu-Fa and enjoy as a chilled dessert. I sometimes heat the pudding up in the microwaves for a warm version in the winter time. They are equally good.