This tofu skin or yuba is made with only 2 ingredients — soybean and water! One bonus ingredient is patience because the process takes time but I can assure you that it’s a worthy experience especially when you lift up your first tofu skin. This recipe is for those of you who can’t get tofu skin from a store near you or would love to try making it at home.
Tofu skin is made from one of my favorite humble ingredients, the soybean. This bean is mighty! Why? It can turn into soy milk, tofu, yuba, and many more. Oh, yes, even the soy pulp (okara) is edible. Isn’t it cool?
I grew up eating a lot of soybeans, be it in their original form or by-products ingredients such as textured soy protein. Some of my favorites include ‘fu juk’ which is tofu stick, also known as beancurd stick or ‘fu pei’ beancurd sheet/skin. It’s made from tofu skin, that is dried and molded to either a stick form or square pocket.
So, what exactly is tofu skin (yuba)
Tofu skin or yuba is a thin layer that’s formed at the top when simmering fresh soymilk. Other names include beancurd skin, beancurd sheet, which literally comes from this thin layer but is formed into different shapes.
This layer is very delicate and versatile in many uses. Once this layer is lifted, it’s then dried, usually under the sun. In my case, I dried them at the countertop. Some of my favorite recipes that used tofu skin are Dim Sum Beancurd roll and Tofu skin Roll filled with vegetables!
How to make tofu skin (yuba)
A day before…
- Wash the dried soybeans and place them in a large bowl.
- Add enough water to rise about 2-inches above the soybean. A rule of thumb is 1 cup of soybeans to 3 or 4 cups of water.
- Soak the soybeans for at least 8 hours or overnight. If your weather is too warm, you may soak the soybeans in the fridge.
On the day…
- Drain out the soaking water and pick out the bad soybeans.
Set a nut milk bag over a large bowl. I did mine over a sieve as a double strainer. Then, combine water and soybeans in a high-speed blender. The ratio I used was 1 cup of soaked beans to 3 cups of water. Each cup of dried beans generally yields 2.5 to 3 cups of soaked beans.
Blend over medium speed for about 2 minutes until the nuts are broken down into a fine meal. The water will turn from translucent to white or opaque.
Pour this mixture into the nut milk bag and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Alternatively, strain it over a fine-mesh strainer. If you choose the latter method, I would strain it twice or layer it with a cheesecloth to ensure you remove all the soy pulp from the liquid. Reserve the pulp for another use.
Transfer this mixture to a large flat skillet. Turn on the heat and bring it to just barely boil. Skim up the foam that builds on the top. You may stir it once to ensure the heat gets distributed evenly. You want to see wisps of smoke from the skillet but not boiling. Maintain the soy milk’s temperature to about 215 – 225F.
After about 3-4 minutes, a yellow thin layer is formed. It will slowly start to wrinkle and the sides start to ‘crisp’ up and stick to the rim of the pan. Gently run a wooden skewer around the pan to loosen the sheet. Then, take the wooden skewer and push the sheet to the side of the pan and lift it up.
Quickly transfer this sheet to parchment paper. Repeat the same process until no layer can be formed.
Let it dry at room temperature or under the sun until it crisps up. You may also store it once it’s slightly dry up or cool to handle. This is a soft version of the tofu stick.
Tofu skin (yuba) key notes
- Maintain a warm liquid temperature – about 215 – 225F
- Do not boil the the soymilk or stir it during this process. You may stir it one time once you pour it into the pan, but that’s it.
- To speed up the layer forming process, I used a paper fan and gently fan it over the liquid, about 1 foot up.
- As you near the end of the cooking process, you’ll get a smaller sheet. You may see tiny dents and the sheet is not as smooth. Don’t worry, it’s still edible albeit the look. I was able to get most out of the milk and left with less than 2 tablespoons of liquid as shown below.
- A big curd formed underneath the layer – this happens when the heat is too high on that particular area. So, make sure you get a good flat skillet with even heat distribution and keep an eye on the temperature.
- Can I use other pan? Yes, a large surface with straight side is highly recommended. I was tempted to used a large wok but since it has a round bottom, this means I will get different tofu skin sizes. Plus I find it hard to lift the last few sheets if using a wok because the surface gets smaller.
- Other ways to dry the tofu skin – you can do it under the sun or over at your countertop like me. Alternatively, dry them in a dehydrator or in an oven set to the lowest temperature.
How to store fresh tofu skin (yuba)
Method 1 – Dry the tofu skins completely and store them in an air-tight container. This is good for up 1 month so long there is no moisture. You may add a pack of moisture absorbents to the container as well. To use it in dishes, you’ll need to rehydrate them in water to soften.
Method 2 – Store the tofu skin once they are cooled down. This is to keep the soft texture and no rehydration needed when you use it. Since the tofu skins have moisture in them, use them immediately in soups or store for up to 2 days in the fridge or freezer for longer shelf life.
Homemade vs store-bought
As mentioned above, it’s always easy to get these at the store but I know that not many of you have access to an Asian market. So, I bought a pack of dried tofu (beancurd) sticks to compare the textures.
- To soften the store-bought dried tofu sticks, you’ll need to add a dash of baking soda to the water or boil them.
- Once rehydrated, the homemade dried tofu stick is actually softer than the store-bought. It immediately goes back to the texture when you lift it up from the pan.
Why You Need this Tofu skin (yuba) recipe
- It’s a fun cooking process, not to mention how satisfying it is to lift up the first sheet from the pan
- For you who can’t get tofu skin from the store
- No preservatives
- Vegan and dairy-free
Stay tuned… on how to turn this tofu skin into a dish!
If you try this recipe, I would love to hear your feedback and see your beautiful re-creation. Leave me a comment, rate it, and tag @woon.heng and #woonheng to your photos on Instagram or Facebook. Happy cooking, friends!
How to make tofu skin (yuba) from scratch
- Wooden skewer
Makes 13-15 tofu skins
- 1 cup [250g] dried soy beans
- Clean the soy beans with water and place them in a large bowl. Add enough water to rise up to 2-inch above the soybeans. This will ensure all beans are covered with water. Soak overnight or up to 8 hours.
- The next day, set a nut milk bag over a large bowl. Then, drain out the soaked soybeans and transfer them to a high-speed blender.
- For each cup of soaked soybeans, add 2½ to 3 cups of filtered water to it. Blend at medium speed for about 2-3 minutes until the nuts are broken down into fine meal. Blend in batches if needed.
- Empty it to the nut milk bag. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Alternatively, strain the liquid over a fine-mesh twice to make sure there is no soy pulp in the liquid.
- Pour this liquid into a tall non-stick skillet (I used a 12-inch skillet) and turn on the heat. Set it at medium heat and as soon as it reaches to barely boil, turn the heat to medium low and maintain the heat between 212-225F. Scoop up the foam with a skimmer. You may still see wisps of smoke from the pan but the mixture is not boiling nor simmering.
- After 3-4 minutes, a thin layer is formed at the top of the soy milk. The layer looks wrinkly and the outer perimeter sticks to the side of the pan.
- To remove the sheet, gently loosen the side with a wooden skewer. Then, use the same wooden skewer and gently push the skin to one side and lift it up. Immediately transfer to a parchment paper. Repeat the process until you can't get any layer at the top.
- Store in an airtight container or let them dry at room temperature. Check notes below for other ways to dry the tofu skins.
- To speed up the layer formed, air the top of the milk gently with a paper fan.
- For other tofu skin shape: Alternatively, insert each end of the wooden skewer to the fork’s gap (I used the middle one) and lower this down into the soy milk. The forks will act as support and once a layer is formed, you can lift up the fork gently to get a half moon shape sheet.
- Other ways to dry the tofu skins
- in a lowest setting preheated oven (mine goes to 170F)
- in a dehydrator
- under the sun