If you’ve ever made pudding at home, you’ve likely heeded a recipe’s warnings and pressed wax paper or plastic wrap against the surface of your custard, lest it form a tough, chewy skin. Or you willfully ignored it, because you’re one of the clever people who know that pudding skin is the best part of the pudding. If you’re one of those people, yuba is right for you.
A by-product of soy milk production, yuba is the sheet of coagulated soy proteins that forms on the surface of a hot vat of soy milk. It has a concentrated soy milk flavor and chewy texture akin to the surface of a fresh mozzarella ball. Yuba is a staple ingredient in Chinese and Japanese cooking, as well as several Southeast Asian cuisines. It’s either sold fresh, with its delicate flavor enjoyed like a fresh cheese, or dried into less-flavorful sheets, logs, or sticks, in which case it’s rehydrated before getting simmered, steamed, or fried. Yuba sheets are often used as dumpling-like wrappers for various dim sum, and they blister like wonton skins when fried.
Unless you live close to a soy milk producer, dried yuba is much easier to find, but do seek out the fresh stuff if you can find it. Pan-fry a sheet, then top with salt and sweetened condensed milk. It’s the ultimate pudding skin.