Yuba: Soy Skin Rates High With History, Flavor and Healthy Benefits
The yuba noodle, sometimes referred to as “bean curd skin,” is an ancient food, served in Asia for centuries that provides many healthful benefits and versatile enough to be served in many Asian dishes. From stir fry to eggs, the textured protein picks up flavor from other ingredients, enhancing food taking it from bland to grand.
What is Yuba?
Yuba is the very top layer of heated soy milk. Once soy milk has been steamed to approximately 190 degrees, the textured strands along with captured fat particles dive upward to create a silky band. Setting allowed, the delicious sheet is lifted, cooled and dried. Yuba is available fresh, dried or dehydrated in packaged foods. It is used in a multitude of dishes from salads, stir fry, eggs or meat substitutes. Preparing yuba takes time and one must be very patient for the process, but its delicate and silky flavor makes it all worth while. With a creamy, blonde color, it tends to be very concentrated and textured. There are cookbooks and yuba recipes online with several diverse recipes.
Centuries ago, yuba was heated in round pots over coals in China, Hong Kong and Japan. It was wrapped around skewers then dried on simmering coals. Chinese style yuba has been documented since the late 1600’s. Yuba eventually became popular in Japan, although no one knows when. It has been documented from William Shurtleff’s “The Book of Tofu” that Japanese monks brought it over in the 13th century. It is possible that Buddhist temples served yuba. Kyoto restaurants eventually specialized in yuba dishes and found many delicious ways to serve it. Family run shops serving the delicacy in Kyoto, Japan have stayed in business for decades. A Frenchman, known as Paul Champion, carried it back to Europe in the 1800’s and collected information on its nutritional values. A scientific study on its nutrition was completed in 1970 in the United States.
For one serving of yuba noodles, there are approximately 55 calories. The serving contains 2 mg. of fiber, almost 6 mg. of protein, no cholesterol and 2.8 g. of unsaturated fat. All properties are highly digestible. Yuba holds minerals such as calcium, iron and potassium along with vitamins A, C, and B’s.
Due to the yuba’s detailed and slow preparation, its popularity isn’t what it could be. It tends to be expensive and has been considered a “gourmet food” in Japan and Hong Kong. The skin is not well known in the United States, but as more creative and less labor intensive methods speed the process of making yuba, it’s popularity may grow and be eyed on grocery shelves more and more. It is available in Asian markets as well as healthy super markets.
“History of Soybeans and Soyfood; William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi; 2007 California