I kicked off this series of Viet cooking session last year and never had the chance to update since. Into 2010 (okay, it’s already March!), let’s get started on this again, shall we?
~ The dish ~
I grew up with this dish! A totally refreshing street snack that we had during every hot and humid summer. There was no need to go to a store, we just waited in our house until the sellers came around, calling “Tào phớ đây” (essentially means: here’s [the] tofu pudding). As a kid, I would jump out with some notes and got myself a really big bowl of this. Being a good kid, I also ordered another large bowl for my parents later. Oh wait, I would have had had another serve, too.
For me, this pudding was almost as good as ice-cream. It was a delightful treat in those hot summer days of Hanoi. To its credit, the dish is quite healthy as well. What’s more? It’s dirt cheap (still so, if you are living in Asian countries).
I know this pudding is very popular in other Asian countries. My husband’s family, of Chinese background, knows it as dau fu fa. Even in Vietnam, the names vary across the regions. There are variations on how to serve this delicious treat as well. In the north: typically with sugar syrup. I can’t recall we have jasmine essence or not. Perhaps we do. In recent years, I also see people eat the pudding with sweetened soy milk (double soy!). In the south, it is served with ginger sugar syrup. I also once tried the delicious icy cold tofu pudding with coconut milk sauce. Nice!
I have attempted to make this pudding at home. Typically in the home kitchen, people use a kind of powder, high in calcium. Since I am too lazy and it’s hard to get hold of such powder, I opt to make the modernized version of the dish. The secret ingredient: gelatin!
The recipe produces smooth and soft pudding, very similar to the traditional one. It’s better eat cold though, since the warm syrup will dissolve the pudding. I am working on the traditional version some times soon. Wish me luck!
~ Ingredients Notes ~
Gelatin: should be available at your supermarket. No, agar agar is not a suitable substitute here since we want a feathery smooth pudding. If you avoid pork-related gelatine, try to find the powder made from beef skin (Davids brand in Australia)
Soy milk: If you want a more authentic taste, only go for the type of soy milk sold in Asian stores. (It’s easy to make as well, instruction here).
That’s it. So easy, yes?
Recipe is based on a Viet recipe from here.
6 cups soy milk
Sugar, to taste (1-2 tablespoons. I use the sweetened soy milk from Asian stores)
5 teaspoon powdered gelatin
1/2 cup warm water
Sugar syrup: 200g brown sugar, 4 slices of ginger, 1 cup more or less water
~ Direction ~
Warm the soy milk in a large saucepan. Do not boil the milk since it gets burned easily.
Dissolve the gelatin in the warm water. Stir until the mixture thickens and the gelatin is completely dissolved.
Pour the gelatin mixture to the warm soy milk. Pour the whole mixture in a large container. Let it set and refrigerate overnight minimum.
Prepare the syrup by boiling the brown sugar, ginger and water together. Cool.
To serve: gently scoop out some pudding into a small serving bowl. Pour in some sugar syrup. (I sprinkle mine with some crushed nuts and brown sugar mixture).