Taho is a favorite Philippine healthy snack food and is basically made of fresh tofu, brown sugar or vanilla syrup and tapioca pearls. It is high in protein, low in fat and very affordable, that is why this food is well loved by Filipinos. It was brought to the Philippines by Chinese immigrants and since has become a staple of daily life. However, Filipino taho differs from Chinese “to hoa” in two distinct ways: the syrup in Filipino taho is made from brown sugar, while the Chinese version is with clear sugar. and Filipino taho is served with tapioca pearls. Furthermore, Filipino taho is considered street food, while the Chinese version is sold as dessert at restaurants.
- 1 1/3 cups dried soy beans (8 ounces)
- 6 1/4 cups water, preferably filtered
- 1 teaspoon powdered nigari (used as coagulant, see Note)
- SHORTCUT: Buy Silken Tofu at the grocery store, then skip to syrup instructions.
- 1 kg brown sugar
- 1 ½ liter water
- Tapioca pearls (Sago)
- In a large bowl, cover the soy beans with 3 inches of cold water. Cover and let stand overnight at room temperature. Drain the soy beans and transfer them to a blender. Add 3 cups of the filtered water and puree at high speed until as smooth as possible.
- Line a large sieve with a clean cotton napkin or 3 layers of cheesecloth and set the sieve over a heatproof bowl. In a large pot, bring 3 cups of the filtered water to a boil. Add the soy bean puree and bring just to a boil (be careful not to let it boil over). Boil over moderately high heat for exactly 8 minutes, stirring constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula to prevent sticking and scorching.
- Carefully pour the mixture into the prepared sieve. Let stand until just cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes. Gather the ends of the napkin or cheesecloth and squeeze to extract as much of the soy milk as possible; the remaining solids should be nearly dry. Discard the solids and skim off any foam from the soy milk. You should have about 4 cups of soy milk.
- In a small measuring cup, dissolve the nigari in the remaining 1/4 cup of filtered water. Spoon 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of the nigari solution into a large heatproof glass bowl. In a clean large saucepan, heat the soy milk to 185°. Gently pour the hot soy milk into the bowl with the nigari solution and quickly stir once or twice just to combine thoroughly; it's easy to scramble the rapidly coagulating tofu. Cover and let stand undisturbed until the silken tofu is fully set, about 5 minutes. Discard the remaining nigari solution.
- Dissolve sugar in water and let it boil for 5 minutes. Use more sugar and cook longer if you want thicker syrup.
- Serve taho with syrup and tapioca pearls.
Nigari can be purchased at Japanese markets and online at myworldhut.com. (food-grade calcium sulfate and magnesium chloride may also be used).
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