KYOTO: A VISIT TO THE YUBA MAKER
Yuba is "tofu skin," a delicate, creamy silky thing made by carefully lifting the thin film that forms on top of gently simmering soy milk. I like yuba and have eaten in many times but never really gave any thought to how it was made until the other morning when I visited an old yuba maker in Kyoto. I sat in the back of the room and watched a young guy (a member of the family who has run the place for centuries) presiding over these vats of steaming soy milk, just barely at a simmer. When a skin had formed, he'd run a wooden dowel across a vat and pull up a translucent sheet of yuba and let it dry on a rack. It is slow work, a sort of mesmerizing ritual. Hours and hours and hours, one by one harvesting these dainty, weightless sheets, waiting for another skin to develop on the warm surface. The young tofu maker's aunt gave me a bowl of warm, freshly made yuba, scrunched up in a bowl with just a few drops of soy sauce. Simple, oishii, delicious. The family cat sat next to me in a styrofoam crate. The aunt brought a plate of salty, deep-fried yuba. An old man washed out the giant pots used to soak the soy beans. The young guy kept walking around his vats, watching. The cat yawned off for a nap. After a morning snack, I was ready to do the same.