Savory Tofu Soup 鹹豆漿

IMG_20160330_120116

Savory Tofu Soup is a traditional breakfast which a lot of people in China and Taiwan grew up eating. Most people know of soy milk as a drink but when soy milk is heated up with vinegar, it curdles into chunks of soft delicious tofu swimming in a salty, vinegary broth (tastes kind of like a hot and sour soup).

It is often eaten with scallion pancakes, Chinese egg pancakes (Dan Bing) and crusty buns filled with pork, vegetables or sweet egg cream (Shao Bing).

A1
Shao Bing

There is a famous market stall in Taipei, called FuHang (阜杭豆漿) in HuaShan Market, across the road from Shandao Temple that sells freshly made soy milk as well as this savory tofu soup and traditional buns made fresh on the premises.   They have an open kitchen where you can watch them knead the dough and bake the buns in huge earthen jars …. it’s great fun to watch the kitchen workers make the Shao Bing while you are in line, inching towards the cashier. It is such a popular place that there are always lines running outside the stall, down the stairs to the first floor, and sometimes snaking around the outside of the building!  The queue starts from the minute the stall opens at 5:30 am to around noon when they sell out.

IMG_20160330_114951
Baking Shao Bin at FuHang

The savory tofu soup is actually quite simple to make it yourself at home. The ingredients can be bought ahead of time.  If you live in western countries, you can find ready-made scallion pancakes and Chinese fried dough crullers at the freezer section of most Asian supermarkets. Whether homemade or ready-made, scallion pancakes go really well with this tofu soup, and you are sure to impress your family with this traditional Chinese Sunday breakfast!

 

Ingredients:

Unsweetened soy milk
Chinese black vinegar
Salt
Pepper
Sesame oil
preserved vegetables 榨菜
a few stalks of spring onions, chopped
Chinese fried dough crullers 油条, toasted and cut into slices
chili oil (optional)
dried shrimp or dried Sakura shrimp (optional, may be omitted for a vegetarian option)

Method:

  1. Heat the soy milk in a saucepan.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together a few teaspoons vinegar, salt, pepper to taste, a drizzle of sesame oil, a few teaspoons picked vegetables, chili oil and dried shrimp, according to your own taste.
  3. Pour the mixture into the hot soy milk and let stand for a minute, without stirring.
  4.  Ladle out the tofu soup into a serving bowl.
  5. Garnish with chopped spring onions and Chinese fried dough crullers. Serve hot.
IMG_20160330_121157
Freshly made fried dough crullers at FuHang

Green Tea Oreo Smoothie

My daughter had two of her wisdom teeth extracted last week. She was doing well by the third day after her surgery, but it’s been no picnic. Even after the pain subsided, her gums stayed swollen from the operation; her cheeks were so puffy, she couldn’t eat solid food for a while! She couldn’t go out and was prepared for a week’s worth of drinking straws and soft foods. I wanted to give her yummy things to look forward to eating and had to rack my brain on creative ways for expanding the menu from just plain porridge. I made a lot from blending things – fish porridge, mushroom soup with rice, pumpkin carrot soup, tofu and fish, and lots of strawberry-banana smoothies thickened with oatmeal.

However, I started to worry that she wasn’t getting her greens for a whole week…What about a vegetable smoothie? Could a veggie smoothie be appetizing? Through inspiration from a magazine recipe and some trial and error, I came up with this green tea smoothie. The verdict: a solid thumbs-up from the patient! Yes, it contains spinach but you can hardly detect the taste at all! In fact, my green tea smoothie was so appealing, other family members started to ask if they could have it for breakfast too! 

Who would’ve thought it! This healthy and nutritional winner is perfect as a filling snack! (I guess you could omit the Oreos if you want to be really healthy … but come on, where’s the fun in that? Those cookies sure make a delicious difference!) So, start your day with a burst of antioxidants in this uplifting green tea-banana and spinach smoothie.

Green Tea Smoothie

1 cup low fat plain yogurt
4 tbsp instant oatmeal
1 tsp matcha green tea powder
1 cup baby spinach
1 ripe banana
2 Oreo cookies
1/2 tsp honey or sugar (optional – not necessary if you are making it with Oreo cookies)

Method

1.  Add just enough hot water to the oatmeal to make a thick mixture.  Allow it to cool.

2.  Put all the ingredients into an electric blender.  Blend until everything is well mixed.

3.  Pour into a tall glass.