I’ve been a proponent of fresh tofu and soymilk for years, so I was thrilled to get an inside look at the Hodo Soy Beanery.
Located in a non-descript building in the industrial part of Oakland, this artisan tofu-maker creates warm soymilk, fresh tofu and smooth yuba (a.k.a. tofu skin or dried bean curd) to be sold at farmer’s markets and select restaurants in the Bay Area.
After watching a brief video about soy production, we were each handed a bowl of fresh soymilk straight from the vat. Like drinking delicate silk, I felt the impurities wash from my body with each gulp of the creamy beverage.
Then, we put on hairnets and the usual accoutrements to enter the factory floor. It was a quiet Monday and the inviting scent of organic soybeans rushed into our nostrils, as the workers diligently went about their business.
Soy production is labor intensive when it’s done right.
Take for instance the making of yuba. If you’ve ever tried packaged dried bean curd from a regular store, you haven’t really tried tofu skin. The yuba, the thin skin that forms on top of heated soymilk, is considered the best form of soy, not only for its nutritional content, but for its wonderful texture. Watching the layers form over shallow pans of soymilk and seeing each sheet individually picked up and dried by hand, I came to appreciate the work involved. But tasting the fresh yuba, right off the line, transformed my idea of what tofu skin could be. I had visions of stir-frys and delicious food experiments I could make with this silky stuff. Ah, if only I lived in the Bay Area.
Hodo’s yuba and soymilk are made from just two ingredients: soybeans and filtered water. Their sweetened milk just has a bit of cane sugar added, for those who like their soymilk that way. And they get their soybeans honest and organic from small farmers in the Midwest.
Lucky San Franciscans can get their share of Hodo’s tasty soy products at certain groceries, farmer’s markets and from such restaurants, like the Slanted Door.
You, too, can experience a tour and tasting of the Beanery in Oakland on select Wednesday. You won’t be able to go onto the production floor, but you can learn about tofu making, watch the soy products being made through the see-through glass and (the best part!) sample fresh soymilk, tofus, yuba and more.
Get tickets in advance on their website. $10 pp for 1 hour.
I swear, if you’ve never had fresh soy products before, you’ll be transformed!