Tofu Skin: It Tastes A Lot Better Than It Sounds

Tofu is a delicacy for many vegetarians and vegans. Whether you're a lover of tofu or looking to expand your soy food palette, may we suggest tofu skin? Despite what the name suggests, tofu skin is technically not made from the skin of tofu. Tofu skins, also known as bean curd skins or sheets, are a byproduct of tofu itself. During the tofu-making process, heated soy milk produces a thin layer of "skin" that forms on top of the milk.

The origin of tofu skin is murky. It was widely eaten during the Tang Dynasty in China. The food item was especially popular among Buddhists as a meat alternative (yes, plant-based meat was also all the rage thousands of years ago!). According to one legend, tofu skin originated from a tofu maker in Imperial China. The tofu maker noticed the top layer of "skin" that formed on the heated soy milk, and then lifted it and dried it, thus creating the first sheet of tofu skin. Today, tofu skin is commonly eaten in many Asian cuisines and has been gaining traction elsewhere.

Different types of tofu skin

Just like tofu, tofu skin touts a lot of health benefits. It's loaded with protein and vitamins, such as vitamin B, according to WebMD. If this is your first time hearing about tofu skin and you're not sure where to start, there are a plethora of different types of tofu skins to choose from. Tofu skin typically comes fresh or dry. Dry tofu skin has a sponge-like texture, while fresh tofu skin is more tender and stretchy, according to On The Table.

Some of the more common tofu skin products are fresh sheets, fried rolls, large sheets, tofu sticks, and kumiage yuba. Fresh tofu skin sheets are described as creamy and nutty. Fried tofu skin rolls are spongy, which makes them perfect for soups and broths. Large sheets are like fresh sheets but lend themselves well as wrappers. Kumiage yuba (yuba means tofu skin in Japanese) is a delicate, creamy tofu substance that has the texture of cheese. Of course, which tofu skin products to buy depends on what dish you're planning to make.

How to cook tofu skin

Overall, tofu skin has a fatty, viscous texture that makes it a great meat substitute. Tofu skins, especially tofu sheets, are great in soups, salads, hot pots, and stir-fry, as they can add an extra crunch to these dishes. Simply cut the fresh sheets into thin noodle-like strips.

You can whip up authentic recipes that use tofu skin, such as tofu skin rolls. Tofu skin rolls are a take on a Cantonese cuisine favorite. Stuff them with your favorite vegetables to get your daily intake of veggies and protein. The protein is great at absorbing flavors and can even mimic the texture and flavors of meat, such as duck and chicken. Try marinating tofu skins in a sauce mixture of vegetarian oyster sauce, rice wine, and soy sauce to make mock duck, which is a popular dish during Chinese New Year. With these dishes for inspiration, head to an Asian grocery store to get your hands on tofu skins.