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April 05, 2010

Yuba, shrimp, orange, miso

Well, THAT was fun, now wasn't it?

Some people love decorating their Christmas tree... others look forward to Valentine's Day every year.... me?  I'm a big fan of the 4/1.  It's kinda *my* holiday, ya know?  Special thanks go out to two incredibly wonderful and cherished friends -- Catherine and Chris -- the wind beneath my April Fool's wings. 

And you know what?  When I read through that April Fool's Day post one last time before pressing the "Publish" button, I thought to myself, hey, wait a minute... that actually sounds like a fun tour, and I wish I could really do it.  Well, except for the liquid nitrogen part.  And the having to do all that permitting.  But cooking my way across the country???  I'd love it.  Let's find a way to make that happen, k?  I'm serious.  Wouldn't that be cool? 

For now, though, I guess I'll just stay here at home and show you how to make dehydrated and fried soy skin sticks.  See, isn't that more fun?  (say it with me: NO)

But before we get started, I wanna tell you about an event here in the DC area I hope you'll come to: Smith Meadows Farm Day.  A little over an hour outside DC, Smith Meadows Farm is owned and run by the Pritchard Family.  I've gotten to know Forrest and his wife Nancy over the past few years (they're at a few of our local farmers markets), and not only do I think they are awesome, their food is amazing (their chickens are the best you'll find in the area).  You can read this interview I did with Forrest, and then, you can go to their web site and sign up for Farm Day -- it's Saturday, May 1st from 10 - 2.  The cost is $35 per person ($60 for a couple), and that includes a tour of the farm, some workshops and activities, and a big ole BBQ lunch (featuring their meats).  Kids 18 and under get in free.

I'm gonna be there, so I hope you'll come out to see a working family farm, and get to know some great people who work harder than anyone I know.

*  *  *  *  *

Now, about those dehydrated and fried soy milk skin sticks.... let's hit it:

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Those were some dried soybeans I soaked in water overnight.  The next morning, I put them in a blender along with some water, and made soy milk:

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I poured that liquid into a large sauce pan, brought it to a boil, and let it boil for 3 minutes.  I poured the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into another large sauce pan (the liquid was about 1" deep) where I skimmed off all the foam and bubbles and brought it up to just below a simmer -- that's when the skin began to form on the top of the liquid. The skin that forms is called yuba, hence the word "yuba" in the title of this dish.  How many of you thought "yuba" was short for "yodeling tuba?" Show of hands?  I thought so.  Shame on you.  Especially you, there, in the back. What were you THINKING?

Now, you're supposed to be able to pull the skin off and lay it flat on a piece of parchment to dry before rolling it into a stick.  But you know me... I can work my magic in the halls of Congress, in the East Room of The White House, and on the front page of the nation's leading newspapers, but lifting the skin off soy milk and laying it flat? I got no skillz.  (and it's totally frustrating, believe you me)

I got the skin about halfway off the surface before it kinda started folding all into itself, so I decided to just run with it, and made the sticks straight away... and added in some extra time in the dehydrator (since there would be moisture in the ridges of the sticks).  Here's what one of the soy milk skin sticks looked like as it dried at room temperature before going into the dehydrator:

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Not the most attractive food product I've ever seen, but not the worst, either, I suppose.  I made eight of those sticks, which took about two hours -- after one layer of skin was pulled off the surface of the milk, I had to wait another 15-20 minutes for another one to form.  There were eight in all, and they all spent about 5 hours in the dehydrator at 135F degrees.

While I was making the soy milk sticks, I made miso mayonnaise:

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It's so easy -- you just start with one egg yolk in a bowl, then whisk in the canola oil, a drop or two at a time, whisking all the while, then adding the oil more steadily as the mayo emulsifies.  I love making homemade mayonnaise... and miso mayonnaise?  Holy wow, is that good.  After whisking the egg yolk and oil, I added red miso paste, the juice of two limes, sugar, water, kosher salt and cayenne pepper.  All I need to do now is learn how to make a gluten-free baguette and I will slather this miso mayonnaise on every freakin' sandwich I can think of.

The other thing I did while waiting for the soy milk skins to form was peel an orange, go in with a paring knife to remove the pith, cut the peel into long, thin slices, then blanch them in simple syrup.  Those long orange peel strips were wrapped around the yuba sticks just before serving.

DSC_0012Look!  I peeled it all in one piece!  I should have my own TV show!  Or a recording contract!  Or a clothing line!  Right?  Right.

Once the yuba sticks were dehydrated, it was time to deep fry them:

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While they blobbed around the pot of hot canola oil for about a minute, I sliced some raw, pink, Florida Keys shrimp lengthwise so they, too, could be wrapped around the now-fried yuba sticks.

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I wrapped one sliced shrimp around each yuba stick, put them on a baking sheet, lightly brushed them with canola oil, and stuck them under the broiler for about 2 minutes when the shrimp were cooked through and the yuba had begun to brown even further:

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To serve them, I put a spoonful of miso mayonnaise in a shot glass, then perched a yuba stick in it.  I included a piece of chive, a candied orange zest strip, a dash of togarashi (a spicy Japanese pepper powder), and a sprinkling of black sesame seeds (those weren't in the recipe, but they were there in the photo, so I included them):

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Love, Love, Love, LOVE! 

Shrimp, orange, and miso might just be my new favorite flavor combination. Holy cats, these were good.  There were just four of us around the table, and we were pretty psyched to have two apiece.  The biting and the re-dunking, and the biting again, and the one last dunking and biting... wow.  I think we could've gone through a few dozen of these.  They're THAT good.

If the danged soy milk skin sticks weren't such a pain in the ass, I'd make these things EVERY DAY.  I'm not kidding.  Salty, crunchy, shrimpy, orange-y, miso-y flavor all in one bite?  What's not to love?  I mean, sure, fine... go ahead and buy some lame-ass box of cheese straws from the stupid grocery store for your next dinner party or holiday gathering.  FINE.  Be that way.  Or, you know, you could make these and actually make your guests pass out from all the deliciousness.  Then, while they're unconscious on the floor, you could eat your leftover miso mayonnaise out of a little plastic storage container with a spoon.  Oh wait, I meant, you could WANT to do that.  Not that you would really ever DO that.  Because who eats miso mayonnaise out of the container with a spoon?  I mean, really.  That's gross.  Ew.  WHO DOES THAT?  (me.)  (totally.)  (i ain't gonna lie.)

I think one of my projects this summer will have to be to figure out a nice little lunchtime shrimp salad that incorporates miso, orange, and sesame.  That, with a glass of prosecco, would make me a very happy girl.

Up Next: Marcona Almond, white ale, pink pepper, lavender

Resources: Dried soybeans, orange, limes, red miso, and togarashi from HMart; egg from Smith Meadows Farm; 365 canola oil; Domino sugar; David's kosher salt; cayenne pepper from TPSS Co-op; shrimp and chives from Whole Foods.

Music to Cook By: The Bird and The Bee; Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Darryl Hall and John Oates.  One of my favorite duos covering the songs of one of my other favorite duos?  If loving this is wrong, I don't wanna be right.

Read My Previous Post: Alinea at Home, On the Road!  (*snerky-snerk-snerk)

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You can just buy yuba in any Japanese store.

The rest of it looks relatively straightforward by Alinea standards.

I bet it works great even without the complex plating.

well played - you totally got me. But i *am* disappointed that you won't be in Denver...

I was sick in bed the past few days, so I didn't see your April Fool's Day post until today. It's a good thing you 'fessed up, otherwise I'd be on your case about scheduling stops in Des Moines and Denver, but omitting Omaha which you'd be driving through. To get from Little D to Big D, you HAVE to go through Omaha. But, you're not really doing it, so I'm not on your case.

Heck, yes, it does sounds like fun! Hey, just do it. Tell Food Network--I think there's a new series here!

That looks so pretty, and the flavor combo does sound excellent.

Also, this is the second miso condiment I've seen in two days (Brian Boitano made miso mustard yesterday on his Food Network show). I feel like the universe is trying to tell me something. Something salty.

Wait. Brian Boitano has a Food Network show? Seriously?? Carol, you would be a shoo-in for one of those and so much better than some of the existing shows. Funnier too. This dish is intriguing and sounds delicious. If only someone would make it for me ...

Not only can you buy yuba at any Japanese or large Chinese grocery store, you can also buy it in dehydrated rolled up stick form.

---------------> But, how does it taste? Usually things that come already-done/packaged like that are kinda blech-tasting. [CB]

That was fun! I especially like how you didn't post the comments that called you on your joke.

I don't live in the US, but GET SPONSORS AND MAKE THE ROAD TRIP HAPPEN. You could totally, totally do this, CB - perhaps as your swan song after you've finished the book, say early - mid next year when I'm visiting your country? Yeah, totally. I'll see you then.

Hey Carol, the Yuba is actually a pretty common ingredient in Chinese cuisine (often used in soups and stir-fried), and you can find it in most Asian grocery stores. I think there are Super H-marts (korean supermarkets) that should carry them. You can get like 20 sticks for $1.99 or so. Maybe not quite as tasty as freshly made, but better than spending 2 hours making 8 of them!

--------> I'll have to do a taste-test comparison. And, I'll have to see if the packaged ones have gluten, because with my luck, they'll have some sort of gluten component in them, and I'll forever make homemade ones. :/ [CB]

So nice that you're such a fan of April Fools Day. I am too: it's my conception day. When I counted backwards and realized the fact and mentioned it to Mom, she got a far-away look in her eyes and said, "Hmmm, maybe so. We had gone to a Halloween party that night..." "Halloween?" "Well yes. It was April Fools Day!" That explained a whole lotta things to me!

Looking forward to see how you top this one next year.

Ah, but did you serve them in eco-friendly, biodegradable mini shot glasses? That line? That was the part that made me snort so hard I scared my cross-eyed cat. Brava.

The shrimp/orange/miso flavor combination sounds really interesting. I could see it working well in other contexts...like taco filling, or a salad? Must play.

I'm going to need to spend a day or two making gallons of that soy mayo -- or as I like to call it, vegetable gravy. It takes a deep southern accent to fully describe the effect of that deliciousness drizzled over grilled asparagus: "Daaaaaaaay-yum!"

Thanks for the info on the Farm Day! I just signed my family up for it! It sounds like a great time!!!!! I know my kiddos will love it!

Oh, that is just a wonderful recipe.... joins everything I am very fond of (miso at the top of the list)

As to the 4/1 - I think when I finally tried to leave a comment, you had already shutdown for new entries, but I thought it was your best ever!

sob. . .so gullible. . .so deflated. seriously, it's been a while since I've been as disappointed about anything. now I'm conflicted, to boot. Can't decide to congratulate your wilyness, or curse your deception. . .

That lunch you described would make me a very happy girl, too. It's really too bad I'm on a completely different coast, otherwise I'd invite myself over for said salad. Hell, I'd even bring the prosecco! ;)

these were one of my favorite courses when we ate at Alinea last year. So cool to see what goes into making them.

Do you cook the mayo in any way? Since it has egg it feels like you should, but I don't see it in the directions or your description.

[Nope -- it's mayonnaise. The egg isn't cooked. ---CB]

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