See those noodles swimming in curry in the picture above? Well, they’re not actually noodles, but rather a product called yuba, a.k.a. tofu skin. Yuba is a byproduct of the soymilk-making process. It is not unlike a pudding skin, forming a thin film at the top of vats of soymilk. After it is carefully peeled from the top of the soymilk and hung to dry, it is often sold in dried form. Reconstituted, it becomes elastic and pliable, ready to be used as a wrapper for spring rolls, folded and pressed to make mock meats, or cut into fine ribbons and used as a stand-in for rice or wheat noodles.
I’m lucky enough to live close to a wonderful factory called Hodo Soy Beanery — they use non-GMO, organic soybeans to produce not only soymilk and yuba, but also fresh tofu, along with a line of ready-to-eat salads and braised tofu nuggets. What’s more, they sell their yuba fresh, not dried — highly perishable, it is best used within a few days after purchase. Its texture is more tender and delicate than dried yuba, and the flavor is pure and a little bit sweet.
Because Hodo’s yuba is so fresh, it requires no cooking — you can even use it in a salad, tossed with your favorite vegetables and dressed lightly with a soy vinaigrette. I went a more hearty route, added it to my curry at the end of cooking, heating the yuba just long enough to warm it through before serving. It added lovely chew, substance, and a good amount of protein to my vegetable curry, resulting in a nutritious and tasty meal.
Yuba Noodle Curry
1 Tbsp. peanut oiil
1″ knob of ginger, diced
1 large shallot, diced
1 (14 oz.) can light coconut milk
1 Tbsp. almond butter
1 Tbsp. reduced sodium tamari
2 Tsp. white miso paste
2 Tsp. red curry paste
1/2 lb. white new potatoes (about 1″ in diameter), halved
3 carrots, peeled and roll-cut into 1″ pieces
4 ribs of celery, cut into 1/3″ thick diagonal slices
1 package (6 oz.) fresh yuba
3 sprigs cilantro, roughly chopped
1. Heat the peanut oil in a medium (3-quart) saucepan over a medium flame. Add the ginger and shallot, sauteing until softened and just shy of turning brown, about 8 minutes.
2. Add the coconut milk, almond butter, tamari, miso paste, and curry paste to the saucepan. Stir to dissolve all the ingredients in the coconut milk. Bring up to a boil, turn heat down to low, and let simmer for 5 minutes or so.
3. Use an immersion blender to puree the curry sauce, blending until smooth. Make sure the blender stays immersed fully in the liquid or you will have a big mess — it helps to tilt the pot to get a deeper pool of liquid.
4. Add the potatoes, carrots and celery to the curry sauce. Cover and let simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes and carrots are fork-tender.
5. While the vegetables are simmering, open up your package of yuba and carefully unfold the sheets — peel gently to avoid ripping them too much. Cut the sheets in half width-wise, stack them on top of each other, then roll them up as tightly as you can manage. Slice the roll into 1/4″-wide ribbons. Use your fingers to separate the rolled-up strands into a loose pile of yuba “noodles.”
6. When the vegetables are tender, stir the yuba noodles into the curry. Bring back up to a simmer, then remove from heat and stir in the cilantro. Serve alone or over the grain of your choice.