Sweet Tofu Pudding
TAHOOOO! The distinctive shout that the street vendor calls while making his round. You immediately grab your money and run outside making sure you don’t miss him. Pssst! You call the vendor, he comes over and starting assembling your taho. He first take a cup (you provide a cup too), he then gently scoop some warm silken tofu on sliding motion, then he add some ‘sago’ tapioca pearls on top then lastly the ‘arnibal’ a simple borwn sugar syrup.
Taho is a street food snack and you can get them in the morning and sometimes in the afternoon too. The street vendor walks around with 2 stainless barrels hanged on each side of a bamboo stick, balancing on his shoulders. You see, Filipinos love eating so much, that we try to have 5 meals a day; our breakfast, merienda or snacks, lunch, another merienda then dinner!
This dish is one of my childhood favourites too! I remember eating it during school breaks and weekends too. So almost everyday! Haha! I have a photo of me holding the taho barrels at one of our visits in the Philippines but I can’t find it (boo), when I do find it I’ll add it on here.
One of the most important part of Taho is making your own soy milk and to do this you need to soak the beans first preferably overnight. The beans will become softer and grow double it’s size. It will be easier to blitz in a blender with some water to extract the juices from the beans. I used my Kenwood blender, you can use any blender you have at home. If you have a small blender you can do 2 batches.
Another important ingredient is the coagulant (I pronounce it cowajelent..my sister laughs all the time!), it’s what helps the tofu come together. I use Gypsum powder or Calcium Sulphate (look for the food grade). Some people use lemon or gelatin sheets. For taho I don’t use lemon because I don’t want the taho to have a sour or bitter taste and I don’t use gelatin for this because I want to serve warm taho just like the street vendor in the Philippines sells. I bought my gypsum powder from Wing Yip. I haven’t seen it sold in Chinatown. I also added some cornflour and potato starch to give the tofu some body and it will hold.
It sounds complicated but it’s pretty simple. Hopefully the recipe and instructions are clear. Please message me if you are stuck or I haven’t explained the process enough.
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Soy Bean Milk
Arnibal or Sugar Sryup
Place the soybeans in a large bowl or container, pour water into the container making sure the water is well above the beans and let it soak for 8 hours or overnight. In the meantime you can cook your sugar syrup. In a small pot, pour sugar, half of the water and vanilla. On low heat, slowly caramelise the sugar. Once all of the sugar has melted add the rest of the water and continue to cook the sugar. Mix the sugar and water together by whirling them around. Take off the heat and leave it on the side to cool down.
To cook the tapioca pearls, in a pot pour 2 litres water, bring it to a boil and add tapioca pearls. Simmer it for 1 hour on low-medium heat covered with the lid stirring occasionally. If it dries out add more water. Turn the heat off and leave it in the pot until it cools down. Once cooled, strain and rinse the tapioca pearls. Put it back in an empty pot, pour 2 litres of water and bring it to a boil. Simmer it for 1 hour covered with the lid and stir it occasionally. Turn the heat off, strain and rinse the tapioca pearls again. Now it’s ready!
To make the soy milk, using a strainer, drain the water from the beans. Place half of the beans and water into the blender. Blitz them until you see a smooth consistency in the water and the beans are fine. Pour it into a bowl and do the same to the other half. Using a cheesecloth, in batches pour some soy milk into the cheesecloth, slowly squeeze the juices out making sure you don’t burst the cloth open and no pulp gets into the milk. You can strain it again if you want to make sure. Discard the soybean pulp. Do this until all the blended soy milk are all squeezed.
To make your coagulant, in a bowl or glass, mix water, cornflour, potato flour and gypsum, stir well. Leave on the side for later.
Pour soy milk into a cooking pot, on low to medium heat, slowly heat the soy milk and bring it to a simmer and hot but not boiling hot. Mixing it occasionally so the bottom doesn’t burn or stick. If it creates a skin on top gently skim it off. Turn the heat off. Using a container or a pot that retains heat, take your coagulant mixture, mix it again before pouring into the pot (I’m using my rice cooker). Immediately pour all of the hot soy milk into the pot with coagulant from a height, it should naturally mix together so don’t mix them anymore. Place a kitchen cloth on top to stop the condensed water dropping onto the silken tofu, then cover it with the lid. Leave it to set for 30-40 minutes.
Taho is perfect served warm. To assemble taho, take some tofu, add some tapioca pearls and pour some sugar syrup onto your taho. Now it’s ready to eat.