The other day when I was writing a family story about how my father mastered cooking after my mother passed away, there I mentioned his specialty dish – ‘buddha vegetables’ – a vegetarian dish that was made with at least seven different types of fresh and dried vegetables and mung bean noodles braised in a fermented beancurd sauce. I realised while going through my notes that I had forgotten to include one particular ingredient in the description – Yuba – is also known as ‘tofu skin’, a very popular ingredient in Chinese cooking. It is a food product made from soy beans, as a result, it shares a similar taste with soy milk and tofu. But unlike tofu, it doesn’t made with added coagulant. While soy milk is being boiled, a film is formed on the surface of the liquid, and the film will then be collected and dried in sheet or stick form. Since Yuba retains its shape and texture after cooking, therefore it is widely used for stir-fried, as a wrapper for dim sum, for braising or for slow-cooked dishes. Yuba is easily found in Asian supermarket, an excellent alternative to meat products since it is packed full with protein. It is also a great subtitle to tofu. So ‘Yuba’ is now back in the main text of my story and I realised how much I miss the taste and texture of this peculiar but wonderful ingredient, hence this recipe.
I have chose the Yuba in stick form for this recipe as this particular type will retain its texture best during and after cooking (but it also takes longer to rehydrate, see instruction below). If you fancy a bit of a spicy kick, add in some chopped chilis will surely do the trick. You can basically use any other leafy green such as spinach, Pak Choi, Swiss Chard, or even broccoli if asparagus is not available in your area.
- 250g mixed mushrooms, brush cleaned and slice the bigger ones into bite size pieces
- 80g dried Yuba, break in to smaller and shorter pieces
- 6 green asparagus, snapped off the woody ends and cut in to three or four pieces each
- 1 thumb-size ginger, peeled and julienned
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce:
- 4 tbsp. of tamari (or regular soy sauce)
- 2 tbsp. oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp. sake
- 1 tsp. honey
- 300 ml water
- 1 heaped tsp corn starch
- 2 tsp. water
Submerge the Yuba sticks in water for at least 3 hours or overnight (I put them in a mason jar in the fridge overnight). Squeeze out excess water once the Yuba is fully rehydrated (see picture) and set aside.
Apart from the last two ingredients, combine all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl, mix well then set aside.
Prepare the corn starch and water mixture in a small bowl and set aside.
Warm the vegetable oil in a wok on medium high heat, add in the julienned ginger in the oil and let them sizzled for about half a minute. Add the mushrooms and fry until slightly brown, add the Yuba, the sauce, and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper. Let it simmer on lower heat for about 3 minutes.
Slide the asparagus into the wok and mix everything well. Cook it for a further 2 minutes. Have a taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Stream in the corn starch water mixture slowly and stir the entire content in the wok until the sauce is thicken and coated well on the vegetables. You might not need to use all the corn starch mixture.
Remove from heat and transfer the vegetables on a warm serving platter. Served immediately with steamy white rice.