Kaijiang Soy Bamboo

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Kaijiang Soy Bamboo


Soy bamboo is a traditional product from Kaijiang County in eastern Sichuan. It is essentially a long roll (or tube) of tofu skin whose shape and color (pale yellow) resemble a stick of bamboo. The process for making soy bamboo is quite time consuming and is carried out entirely by hand: First, local soybeans (of the “June yellow” variety) are soaked, ground, and filtered to obtain soymilk. Then the soymilk is heated in a wide pot over a charcoal fire. A gentle boil should be maintained. Soon a film, or skin, develops on the surface of the boiling liquid. This skin is lifted off of the liquid by rolling it onto a bamboo stick. The stick is then put on a rack so that the skin can dry. One pot of soymilk yields 300-400 sheets of curd skin, and it takes about 3 hours to empty the pot—patience and technique are key, and having several people around the pot (or pots) helps expedite the process. The next day the process is repeated and a second layer of curd skin is rolled onto each stick. It takes four days and four layers of curd to make each piece of soy bamboo. The finished product is about 3 centimeters in diameter and 30 cm long. Because no preservatives are added to the soymilk, the inside of the roll (the curd from the first day) is darker than the outside (the curd from the final day). Soy bamboo is tender and slightly chewy with a sweet, mellow flavor. It is rich in protein, calcium, iron, zinc, and various vitamins. After the rolls have been soaked and shredded or cut into pieces, they can be served hot or cold, added to salads, stir-fry, soups, etc. The techniques for making soy bamboo have been passed from generation to generation in Gangtang, a small town in southern Kaijiang County, for at least three hundred years but today this tradition is in decline because young people have not taken an interest in learning the process. Most Kaijiang soy bamboo is sold locally, in shops or restaurants, and some is available online.

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Production area:Kaijiang

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Nominated by:Fei Bai