9 facts you didn’t know about soy and tofu

Lorenz Angelo Gonzales/Staff

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We all know what tofu is. We’ve eaten it in our salads at Smart Alec’s, in our burgers at Saturn Cafe or as fried snacks at any of the boba shops around town. But do you know what tofu is actually made of, how it’s actually made or the variety of dishes you can make with tofu? We went to the Soy and Tofu Festival in Japantown in San Francisco to check out what makes soy and tofu such cool foods to have in our diet. Here are nine facts about soy and tofu that will make you want to eat it for your next meal.

1. Soybeans


Tofu  and almost every soy-based product  is made from these small brown beans.  You can buy your own soybeans at your local Asian market, or you can purchase them online at the family-owned business, Signature Soy. Signature Soy offers varieties of non-GMO soybeans to make your own tofu, natto, soy milk and sprouts at home.

2. It’s really simple to make your own soy milk.

All you need is soybeans, water, a blender and a cheese cloth. Almost everything made from soybeans actually starts from this process.  Here’s a simple instructional video teaching you how to make soy milk.

3. Tempeh


Similar to tofu, tempeh is a traditional soy product from Indonesia. If you don’t like tofu, tempeh is high in protein and has a nutty flavor to it, making it a nice alternative. Check out how to make tempeh here.

4. Natto


Natto is a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans. Natto has a distinct smell and a sticky, slimy texture, a result of the fermentation. But don’t let those factors deter you from eating this food. When coupled with rice, as a wrap or with soy sauce, natto is a savory delight — if you can get past the smell and the texture, that is.

5. Soy Noodles (AKA Yuba)


Yuba is a thin layer or film that forms on the surface of soy milk when heated. The sheet is then harvested from the soy milk and cut into strips to make the “noodles.” It is also often used to wrap dim sum.

6.  Cal Dining uses tofu that comes from Hodo Soy Beanery


Founded by Minh Tsai, Hodo Soy is an Oakland-based producer of soy and tofu. According to its website, its mission is to “craft the highest quality tofu and create innovative and delicious tofu-based artisan foods that will forever change the way you know tofu.”

7. Soyrizo by Naked Chorizo


This food truck serves up a tasty alternative for vegans. This Filipino fusion cuisine is made with tofu and is cooked in the Filipino-style chorizo it’s named after. “Naked chorizo” is the literal translation of “chorizong hubad,” a Spanish chorizo that was brought over to the Philippines by the Spaniards and now has developed into a staple Filipino food.

8. Soy fruit bar


Want a gluten-free alternative to your regular fruit bar? Try Soyjoy’s all-natural fruit bar. It tastes exactly the same as your average fruit bar, but it’s made out of soy.

9. You can use tofu to make a tasty dessert!


Tofu berry tart


Kinako ice cream with tofu toasted dango and anko

If you want to try some desserts made out of soy and tofu, try the recipes of the festival’s dessert competition finalists below:

Tofu Berry Tart by Masako Nakatani*

Tofu 150g
Heavy Whipping Cream 100g
Cream cheese 50g
Sweetener of your choice 60g
Vanilla beans 1/4 tsp
Plain flour 150g
Unsalted Butter 115g
Cold water 30g
Orange peels

Making the tart case:
1. Place the plain flour, a pinch of salt, and unsalted butter into a food processor and press the pulse button 12 times.
2. Transfer the dough into a large bowl and add cold water.
3. Shape the dough into a ball. Wrap it in cling film and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
4. Roll the dough and shape the case (6-inch round.)
5. Bake in the oven at 400F for about 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown.

Making the tofu cream filling:
1. Place the strained tofu, sweetner of your choice, and vanilla beans into a food processor and mix it until very smooth.
2. In a large bowl, mix the heavy whipping cream and cream cheese until stiff and add the tofu mixture.
3. Pour it onto the tart case.
4. Decorate with thin sliced strawberries and sprinkle some fresh orange peels. Garnish with fresh mint.

Kinako Ice Cream with Toasted Tofu Dango and Anko by Tiffany Wong*

Kinako Ice Cream (1pt) – 475ml half & half, 4 egg yolks, 65g granulated suger, 40g Kinako, 65g light brown sugar
Tofu Dango (20pc) – 50g silken tofu, 50g mochiko, granulated sugar (as needed)
Anko – 1 cup azuki (dry), 200g granulated sugar


Kinako Ice Cream
1. In a clean bowl, mix to incorporate eggs yolks, sugars and kinako.
2. Bring half & half to a simmer.
3. Temper the egg yolk mixture by adding 1/2 cup of the hot half & half while whisking quickly.
4. In a steady stream, pour the egg mixture into the pot of half & half on the store while constantly stirring to prevent the egg from overcooking.
5. Test the (now) custard. If the custard coats the back of the spoon and leaves a clear trail when wiped with a finger, you may removed the pot from the heat.
6. Strain the custard to remove any lumps.
7. Cool down to room temperature and refrigerate for 8 hours.
8. Pour custard into ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions

Tofu Dango (Brûléed)
1. Whisk tofu until broken into small pieces.
2. Whisk in mochiko and mix until incorporated.
3. Roll dango bals with the palms of your hand.
4. Boil dango until they float.
5. When cooled, top dango with sugar and torch.

1. Cover red beans with water in large pot.
2. Bring to a boil and drain.
3. Cover read bean in water and boil again.
4. Bring down to a simmer for 1.5 0 2 hours.
5. Drain Water.
6. In medium-low heat, add sugar in 3 additions.
7. Constantly stir until thick paste is formed.
8. Remove from heat and cool.

*recipes taken from the Soy & Tofu Festival program

Contact Lorenz Gonazales at [email protected].