Touring with the Tofu Ambassadors


I know, I know, you think I’ve become a roadie for a vegetarian band. Fear not as I didn’t, but I did visit with the folks over at Hodo Soy Beanery. They’re self-professed tofu ambassadors as they want to breathe new life into tofu by making it minimally processed, eco-conscious, and delicious. Have you ever made your own tofu? It’s easy yet it’s not. I mean the process is a cinch, but achieving really awesome texture and flavor, well, that’s a challenge.

Or, it’s a challenge for most everyone save Hodo Soy Beanery . They’re a sort of Cinderella story of Bay Area local products as they’ve gone from a small farmer’s market stall to full-blown artisanal brand in just over 5 years; largely because they make the freshest, cleanest, creamiest tasting tofu this side of the Pacific.

For quite a while, I’ve been begging to see behind the scenes, but they politely declined as their operation was teensy. That all changed recently when they opened a shiny, bright, brand new beanery in Oakland. I was invited over to peek in on where and how they work their magic. The most intriguing of all was watching them hang sheets of yuba to dry as if they were pasta sheets. I’d eaten yuba before but never seen it made and I was immediately entranced. I mean, it was 5 minutes-plus that I was staring as the simmering vats of soy milk to watch the yuba miraculously form, enrapturing in a way rivaled only by sea monkeys.

I finally pulled out of my daze when executive chef Jason DeGuzman rolled in a cart overflowing with his tofu creations. He showered us with a slew of creative dishes that were packed with flavor but still let the tofu shine. Here’s what I noshed on:

-Uber-Braised Tofu with Shaved Beet Ceviche

-Tofu Pâté with Butternut Squash, Sage, Thyme and Caramelized Onion and Roasted Garlic

-Braised Tofu tossed with Pomelo, Navel Orange, Julienned Rutabaga and Flame Carrots

-Cilantro Tofu Salad

-Spicy Braised Tofu

-Spicy Yuba Strips

-Sesame Yuba Strips
If you live in the bay area, some of these dishes are packaged and sold ready-to-eat at local grocers. If that’s not an option, get inspired by checking out some recipes on their blog. And, if you’re as big a nerd as I am, buy your golden ticket for a visit — it’s like the Willy Wonka tour for food dorks!

Food Field Trip is a recurring series where I visit artisanal producers and family farms and share their stories with you.

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