A dish which I never fail to order at yum cha is the tofu dessert (豆腐花, pronounced as dòufu huā). It is essentially a sweet beancurd pudding/jelly that is irresistibly silky soft.
The syrup that goes with this varies across Asia, each showcasing a distinct cultural influence. Some infuse the sugar syrup with pandan, others use white sugar which produces a clear syrup; my ultimate favourite would have to be the version with ginger and brown sugar.
My Dad makes this at home quite frequently. He doesn't do it the way his parents would have - soaking the soya beans overnight, grinding them into a puree then straining it of any insoluble residues - because we're lucky enough to have access to fresh store-bought soya milk.
To make tofu fa at home with store-bought soya milk is ridiculously quick and easy and requires just a handful of ingredients.
Thanks to my Dad's patience with me measuring everything he was adding, here is the recipe!
Tofu fa (豆腐花)
Serves 8 - 10
2L unsweetened soya milk
1½ tsp gypsum powder
2 tsp corn flour
2 large knobs of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 pack (454g) brown sugar slabs
Use a clean 2.5 - 3 litre pot, ensure it is completely dry with absolutely no moisture. Add the entire 2L of soya milk and bring to the boil. Stirring is unnecessary but watch carefully as soya milk overflows easily when boiling.
In a small bowl, mix the gypsum powder and corn flour with water.
Once the soya milk is hot, a thin layer of beancurd skin will form at the top. Carefully remove this with a chopstick or spatula. (Dry this to make a beancurd sheet or just eat it!)
Add the gypsum and corn flour mixture to the hot soya milk and stir twice quickly. Remove off heat immediately and cover with tea towel and lid to trap the heat and moisture.
It will be ready in 15 - 20 minutes.
To make the syrup, bring water to boil, add ginger and boil for a few more minutes.
Add the brown sugar slabs and continue to boil until the sugar melts and the syrup has slightly thickened.
Remove the ginger if desired.
This makes 400ml of the syrup which is enough for 2 - 3 uses. Store in an air tight container in the fridge after use.
Serve the tofu fa warm with 1 tablespoon of syrup.