We are always on the look out for unusual pairings of ingredients and admire the chefs who made the disparate items into a unified dish. We adapted this light and tasty soup from Chef Murata’s beautiful Kaiseki book and used the soup as an intermezzo. The soup’s intense tomato flavor and thick texture was perfectly balanced out by the rich yet light and savory frothiness of the yuba cream that always magically floated to the top.
We started by pureeing 2 parts big red tomatoes and 1 part cherry tomatoes – about 2 pounds altogether. This puree we ran through a fine sieve then split into 2: 40% of the puree was reserved and chilled while the remaining 60% was simmered until reduced by half. This too was let cool then chilled. We discovered the next day that the simmering step could be skipped in a pinch, with little change in taste but with more subdued coloring.
For the yuba cream: first make dashi, then make yuba. This time, we made dashi the (kind of) traditional way by heating kombu and water in our waterbath at 65 degrees Celsius. After 2 hours, 5 grams of bonito flakes were added to 100 ml of kombu dashi, let steep for 10 seconds then strained without squeezing the flakes.
Yuba cream was obtained by simmering fresh soy milk then skimming the protein-rich film that formed on top. 500 ml of soymilk gave us enough yuba for the amount of tomatoes used.
Yuba, dashi, 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon of soy sauce, and a pinch of salt were blended together to make the cream then chilled.
To assemble, we mixed the tomato puree and tomato reduction together then added salt and lemon juice to taste. The tomato was ladled into a clear cup to about 40% of the cup volume. An equal volume of yuba cream was ladled on top. We garnished the soup with chopped chives and mitsuba.
We were apprehensive at first whether we had the manual dexterity to create the two distinct layers seen in the book. However, we needn’t worried because the yuba cream always floated on top with all but the most heavy-handed plopping. And there was much delighted plopping in our kitchen that day.
This was no ordinary chilled tomato soup. The yuba cream perfectly complimented the refreshing tomato puree and took the soup in a completely different direction than expected when the tart tomato flavors first hit one’s tongue. The umami-rich yuba tempered the tartness without masking the tomato’s natural sweetness. The creaminess of the yuba added a newly encountered richness that was also uniquely light. We look forward to playing with yuba cream in other contexts.
After much retrospection, we realized just now we have encountered a similar combination of ingredients before in a homey Vietnamese soup. Tomato, silken tofu, and chives were familiar to us as canh tàu hũ (tofu soup). The similarity was likely coincidental because the soups were completely different. It was eye-opening to see the same ingredients achieve such drastically different effects.