Matthew Amster-Burton 0:03
I'm Matthew and I'm Molly and this is spilled milk The show where we cook something delicious. Eat it all and you can't have any today
we are talking about tofu.
Matthew Amster-Burton 0:12
Yes. And I have a cold at it. That's why I sound like this.
This season. It's also Happy New Year everybody.
Matthew Amster-Burton 0:21
Yeah. Happy New Year everyone. Oh, wow. Yeah.
Hope you don't have a cold
Matthew Amster-Burton 0:24
hope you don't have the cold that I that I got from Molly. So here's my here's my seasonal cold and flu prevention tip. Don't co host a podcast with someone who has a young child and like pass food back and forth while like licking it and taking bites off it all the time.
Yeah, yeah. I always like stuff that but like when I'm tasting it before I pass it to Matthew. I just give it like a good like a tongue lathering.
Matthew Amster-Burton 0:50
Yes. The level of lathering is blitar really obscene?
Yeah. Anyway, so happy new year, everybody. We hope that you got through the holidays without the cold that we have had. And I feel like this is a great time of year for cooking. These like fantastic like Sichuan tofu dishes. And I mean, any time of the year is great for that, but I'm really glad we're doing this episode now. Because Oh my god, this is episode number 418. Yeah, and I can't believe we haven't done tofu yet.
Matthew Amster-Burton 1:20
I know that we say and we say that like every week. I can't believe we haven't done this yet. The entire remaining run of the show that the next 2000 episodes everyone is gonna start with I can't believe we haven't done this this topic yet.
This show really, like pulls me emotionally back and forth because I go on the on the one hand from feeling like oh my god.
Matthew Amster-Burton 1:43
Matthew, and he's gonna lick something and pass it to me again.
I don't have any more topic ideas for a shout out like on the one hand, I feel that way regularly. And then on the other hand, I'm like, I can't believe we didn't think of this. Like there. There are so many good things left to talk about. In
Matthew Amster-Burton 1:59
fact, next week's episode is one of those also sneak preview. We are
so many good things left to lick and pass to Matthew.
Matthew Amster-Burton 2:06
Yep. So thanks for listening to lick and pass. It's like It's like liquor made but like for friends.
Have you? Have you ever gone to like impasse and guns gone skiing?
Matthew Amster-Burton 2:21
Yeah, it was very satisfying.
Oh, man, the Black Diamond run there is treasure.
Matthew Amster-Burton 2:30
Yeah. But it's what happens back at the lodge that you'll remember forever.
Okay. All right. All right. What are we talking about? Again? tofu memory lane.
Matthew Amster-Burton 2:40
Okay, so my tofu Memory Lane doesn't go back far. As far as I feel like it should, because it really took me like later in life, then is really appropriate for me to realize that that tofu is like a food that I could get excited about. What
do you mean by later in life?
Matthew Amster-Burton 2:58
My mid 90s? No, your
Unknown Speaker 3:01
Matthew Amster-Burton 3:02
You know, probably the mid late 90s. When Maybe, yeah. I think this sounds totally standard for a white American. Right. And so so before that, like I had the idea that that many Americans not of Asian descent do which is that tofu is a substitute for something and or like a punch line synonym for a bland food.
Yeah. And I think that this was particularly a prevalent idea in the wake of like, you know, all the vegetarian books that came out, like around the time that you and I were born probably like, seven was moosewood. All these things? Yeah, tofu was presented as this sort of like ascetic food.
Matthew Amster-Burton 3:49
Exactly. You know what I mean? Which it certainly can be but does not have to be
absolutely not. And I think that actually so around the same time that you were having your your tofu awakening?
Matthew Amster-Burton 4:01
I was, gosh, I was in college, probably at that point. Because as everyone will remember, I'm three years younger than me. It matters.
Matthew Amster-Burton 4:11
I remember my seniors what we're both at least 40. Now, it no longer matters.
I know. I'm Matthew god, I'm joking.
Matthew Amster-Burton 4:20
You're joking. And yet, like I I keep having these like very embarrassingly stereotypical middle aged nostalgia pangs, where we're like, I wake up at night thinking like, I wish I could go back and do such and such over I would do a better job this time, which is to do dumbest feel like to have I think I would have like, gotten better at singing and playing guitar, like stuck with those things more consistently. That's the one I've been revisiting this week. What next week it'll be something different. What
I was just thinking about this week. Well, so hold on. First, let me give you a glimpse of of how middle aged I've become. Please last night, we are watching that new well probably by the time this airs no longer very new Martin Scorsese film on Netflix Irishman. We were finishing it last night and I was knitting a scarf. Okay, well, did
Matthew Amster-Burton 5:12
you fall asleep a couple times?
No, but actually falling asleep, anyway. Okay. But um, I just the other day was totally thinking about how like, so I had a very unsafe Hold on, we're gonna talk about making out. Okay. I mean, and by similar I mean, like in the history of the show, we've talked about making out a fair amount.
Matthew Amster-Burton 5:33
Yeah, like every every five or six episodes. I
think what I wanted to say is that I had a very unsuccessful dating career in college. As listeners and readers of Matthew's will know he met wotso, wife of the show, Laurie in college. Yes.
Matthew Amster-Burton 5:47
So Matthew is pretty successful.
Matthew was very successful in college in terms of dating,
Matthew Amster-Burton 5:54
I guess. I mean, like, it depends how you define success. Okay, any go on lots of dates in college.
I think that probably most of our listeners would agree that like a really satisfying and like hot and fulfilling relationship is like, true success.
Matthew Amster-Burton 6:10
Yeah, that's what definition Okay,
great. Anyway, I had no success by any definition. Okay. I lost my virginity in college. But other than that, like, I was scared to ask people out. Anyway, but here's the thing. Like, I write about this in my forthcoming book,
Matthew Amster-Burton 6:31
oh, ethics stars, which you can pre order now.
I had this one date with a woman that I was very confused about. Like, I couldn't tell if it was a date. Like I think I genuinely didn't know it was a date when And anyway, but I now think to myself, Oh my god, I think everything would have been different. If I would go to if I were going to college right now when kid when like kids, at least in coastal cities are like just making out with everybody.
Matthew Amster-Burton 7:04
Yeah, it does seem that way.
I mean, but I think that people were doing this when oh my gosh, what would it have been like? If like some
Matthew Amster-Burton 7:13
went to went to college? It's insertive. I backwards, rural area. Stanford.
Yeah, that Palo Alto places right. Super rural. Definitely no computers there. Anyway, but no, I just kept thinking like, what if some young like budding lesbian had, like, come on to me in a way that I could not fail to notice? Right. And if I had actually had the guts to take it seriously and be curious about it, what would my life have looked like and how much fun Can I have had? Like just fucking in college?
Matthew Amster-Burton 7:52
Yeah, I did not do Oh, sure. Yeah, no, I that. I guess. I guess you're right that by by that standard, like I do feel like I was successful enough in college that I don't I don't like think back of like, you know, I wish I'd like yeah, screwed around more in college.
Yeah. Well, and I also think that that like, I think that like early straight sex experiences were tinged with so much. Well, all all early sex experiences are tinged with weirdness. Oh, sure. But especially like, do you have a condom learning how to put on a condom? You know, like it like being afraid of diseases? Yes. stuff. I wonder. I mean, like, obviously, people it like with two vaginas who are having intercourse need to think about illnesses to
Matthew Amster-Burton 8:38
Yes, but not to the same.
It's not pregnancy, right. I was very afraid of pregnancy.
Matthew Amster-Burton 8:43
Oh, sure. Why would you
been like to, like not be afraid of that in my early sexual experiences?
Matthew Amster-Burton 8:51
Well, I mean, I guess I guess it's not too late. Right. It's too late to go back and redo things.
Now I'm not pregnancy. Yeah. Anyway, so yeah, let's talk about tofu.
Matthew Amster-Burton 9:05
Ya know, we've talked about this before, like like that. On the show. I think that I thought of myself in college is like the biggest nerd that no woman could possibly be interested in. I thought of
myself as the biggest I have this strange complex of feeling like I was pretty cool. But that I was only cool in my universe of one and that the whole rest of the world could see straight through me and see that I knew nothing.
Matthew Amster-Burton 9:33
Yeah, no, I didn't think I was cool at all. And like, you know, we did barely ever like had the guts to to ask someone out because of that. And then but looking back on it, like I was the lead singer in a band in a rock band that would like play shows around campus and around Southern California. And probably like that, like whatever my other deficiencies that was probably cool enough.
You have long hair, long hair and a lot of hair. Yeah. I remember reading your description of Laurie in hungry monkey. And you're talking about how hot she was like this hot girl. Like, she was super like into you and you couldn't believe it.
Matthew Amster-Burton 10:16
Yeah, I just don't
like picturing that because I know how nerdy you looked in college. And I know how much of a lesbian I looked like in college. And yet, like the rest of the world didn't think you were a nerd and I probably a lot of it did. And I think I had no idea what a lesbian I looked like. I wasn't a lesbian. Yeah, it's Oh my god. Growing up is so hard.
Matthew Amster-Burton 10:41
Okay, so sometime in the 2000s. I was writing restaurant reviews. This is this is actually pivoting back to tofu now. Oh, at like the 12.
I wasn't done. Yeah. So my senior year of college, I lived in this Brian on campus with my best friend Keaton, who also kind of looked like a lesbian and also wasn't a lesbian. She was so cool. Oh my god. Keaton continues to be so cool. Keaton plays in rock bands.
Matthew Amster-Burton 11:09
Yeah. And he started over, man. And what that man? Oh,
Michael Keaton. Yeah. Anyway,
Matthew Amster-Burton 11:16
I'm sure she's never heard that one before. She
Unknown Speaker 11:19
refers to Buster Keaton. Oh, sure to explain her name
Matthew Amster-Burton 11:24
is Buster Keaton, the great stone face. I don't either
anyway, but so Keaton and I lived in this, like super dumpy apartment complex on campus that I'm pretty sure has now been torn down a Superfund site, Matthew, shut up. Anyway. And it was our senior year. And when you live in that building, like most people in it don't have a meal plan and they cook their own meal. Yeah, sure. So I already you know, was pretty interested in cooking. And Keaton wanted to learn and so we did a lot of cooking. And anyway, I remember a lunch that I was really into was I would get firm tofu. This sounds so weird and bad. I would get firm tofu and I would cut a slice off the block like a slice about as big as like a slice of sandwich bread. Sure. Okay. And I would marinate it for like 30 minutes. In some like stubs. Beef marinated dice.
Matthew Amster-Burton 12:17
Like you're supposed to, like put on beef. And then I would put it in a skillet and I would cook it just until it was sort of like hot and a little bit browned.
Matthew Amster-Burton 12:27
That sounds pretty good to me, frankly.
And then I would put it on like whole wheat sandwich bread and smear one of the slices with avocado.
Matthew Amster-Burton 12:36
I mean, I can I would eat that for a lie. This is embarrassing. And yet it sounds pretty good.
Yeah, I mean, it was pretty classy in college. And yet, it's so random. It was my like, weird. Tofu sandwich with avocado. It was weird. But anyway, um, yeah, I really did not, it did not occur to me that tofu could be used for anything other than like meat replacement, or quote unquote healthful eating. Until I think until I moved to Seattle, and you know, got far enough outside of Northern California.
Matthew Amster-Burton 13:13
to get to eat some really good Asian food. Right?
Matthew Amster-Burton 13:19
there's really good Asian food in Northern California. But there's there's also a lot of good a lot of hippies.
Matthew Amster-Burton 13:25
Yes. There's probably Yeah, like every time I go to Berkeley, which I love to do and haven't been in a few years. I always marvel at like, oh, they're like real deal hippies here. Oh my god straight up that like fulfill every possible hippie stereotype and I love it
well, and like you know, the The Legend of like, you know, encountering like a naked guy walking along telegraph Avenue. Like it's not a legend. It will happen.
Matthew Amster-Burton 13:50
Yeah, my favorite thing I've ever heard said about hippies and I'm not gonna like get the delivery of the of the joke, right. But that I was listening to a podcast for I think it was a TV writer and comedian Nick Adams was talking, saying like, you know, for all of the stereotypes about hippies, many of which are true. The thing is, they were right about pretty much everything. So I remember
Oh, my God, hold on. I'm almost done here, man.
Matthew Amster-Burton 14:14
Yeah. So it's okay. It's okay to start the show at minute. 15
a really high point for me in college. Yeah. This is also telling is that Molly Katzman? Yeah, the author of the moosewood cookbook and many other legendary vegetarian cookbooks. She will So not only did I write a letter to her in college,
Matthew Amster-Burton 14:34
and she wrote back to me what tell what was in the letter, tell me everything.
I sent her an essay that I had written, okay, and she read it and and what it was about, Oh, my gosh, it was about some writer, and like, the symbolism of sugar in a novel if there's why,
Matthew Amster-Burton 14:52
but why did you send it to her? Well,
I'm getting to that. So she had a new book that came out when I was in college, and I remember I got myself to San Francisco. And I went to her reading. And it was like major celebrity. For me. I mean, I still think Molly katsanis really cool.
Matthew Amster-Burton 15:12
Did you did you bring her one of those BBQ tofu sandwiches? It didn't.
But I do remember that during the q&a segment somebody asked her about being a vegetarian. And she said that she actually wasn't. Yeah, wasn't. Yep. And that she, she had just eaten a turkey sandwich that day for lunch.
Matthew Amster-Burton 15:29
Anyway, the person dropped dead on the spot. Exactly,
exactly. But when I went up to her and I had my book signed, I think I told her that I was in college and that I was really interested in food and blah, blah, blah, and that I was writing about it in the like that I was interested in exploring food through like literature and stuff like that. So I think I followed up by sending her and
Matthew Amster-Burton 15:51
she said, Oh, great,
actually wrote back to me in that handwriting. Reading that everybody recognizes Anyway, what a class act and that's awesome. What a kind human. Anyway, there you go. Okay, so
Matthew Amster-Burton 16:04
sometime in the 2000s, I was writing restaurant reviews for the Seattle Times, a local newspaper, and I was told about this place called Sichuan bean flour. And I think it was, I no longer exists. I think there was one it was like, up north somewhere in Seattle, and then moved to the east side and then closed Anyway, what bean flour meant, and I like learned this somehow is, it is a it is a Chinese word for tofu. It's like the character for being and the character for flour, and particularly for silken tofu, which will explain what that is in a while. Probably quite a while, based on how this show is going so far. And so like this, like, that was kind of the first moment I realized, oh, like, you can have a whole restaurant predicated on the idea that our tofu is really delicious. And that's what you should come here for. And I went there and had like, several different tofu dishes. And I was like, Okay, this is really good. Like, there's there's something here that I just never understood before. And now I'm starting to get it.
And this restaurant, sadly, no longer exactly no longer exists.
Matthew Amster-Burton 17:09
But there are other places in Seattle now where you can get good tofu. there's a there's a restaurant called Northwest tofu is both a tofu store and restaurant on Jackson Street that has all kinds of great tofu dishes.
Wow. Okay. Do you have any cookbook? I mean, like, I know that that, you know, there are plenty of cookbooks that are focused on tofu.
Matthew Amster-Burton 17:26
Yeah. So like, the next phase in my in my tofu, Lucian. Wow, let's rewind. So remember when I said they're like things in my life that I wish I could go back and do over? Yeah, that was true in podcasting, you can, let's do it. Let's scrub through all our old episodes and get rid of all the embarrassing stuff. That'd be like four minutes of audio left, okay. Um, was when Andrea and Wynn's cookbook agent tofu came out maybe like early to 2010. So, okay. And it was like, for me, like the first cookbook that I read that was totally focused on tofu not as a health food, but just like, these are traditional ways to prepare tofu that are that are focused on celebrating the ingredient and its deliciousness. And I made a bunch of things from that book and inspired by that book, I made tofu at home for the first and only time.
Okay, wait a minute. Hold on. I want to I think that this is a good point for you to tell us about what that was like. But first, Matthew, hold on, we need to pause for a second. We need to let our listeners know. So this episode is airing on January 2. Yeah, two weeks from today, January 16. As you may recall, Matthew, we are doing a live show in Seattle. I do recall in the basement of dinos.
Matthew Amster-Burton 18:42
Yep. And there's more information on that if you if you go to our website spilled milk podcast calm and click on this episode, there'll be a link to buy tickets. It's bit.ly slash spilled milk 10. It might be sold out by now but
but here's the thing. We need help from our listeners, listeners who will be there as well as listeners like you who may be very far away and maybe even happy that you can't be there. Maybe you want to stay
Matthew Amster-Burton 19:08
away. Maybe Maybe you heard about how we like to lick things like foods and then pass them on to other people.
Well, so here's the thing. We are going to do something that we've never done before at this show. We are instead of picking one topic, we are soliciting topic ideas from listeners and we're going to do I think 10 I think 10 topics
Matthew Amster-Burton 19:29
and topics as a lightning 45 minutes.
Yes. So we are going to do like three to five minutes per topic. Producer Abby's gonna be there with a button. Yes. Or a buzzer rouser Buzzer Buzzer Wow, it sounds like it's gonna sing.
Matthew Amster-Burton 19:44
Yeah, we've gotten razzed by producer Avi many a time.
She's gonna be there with a buzzer to stop us
Matthew Amster-Burton 19:52
really to move on. Hoping that different ties here for the game taboo.
I'm hoping that it's the sound that the game operation makes.
Matthew Amster-Burton 19:59
when you, you hit the edge of the body.
Matthew Amster-Burton 20:03
Oh, wow, that is such an odd game.
Okay. Anyway, here's the thing. We want topic ideas from you listeners, we are going to be randomly picking these topics out of a hat and Matthew and I have to be able to talk about them for three to five
Matthew Amster-Burton 20:19
minutes. Yeah, so I producer Abby's going to lightly vet the the cards that that she's going to write the topics on. But we could encounter almost anything in this basket of cards. And we have to be wary, we're not going to be ready, but we have to we have to wing it.
And here's the thing, Matthew and I do not want to know about the topics ahead of time. So please do not like just post them on our general Facebook page or in the comments at our website. Here's how you should submit topic ideas,
Matthew Amster-Burton 20:49
email topics at spilled milk. podcast.com Yep, I'll make sure that goes directly to producer Abby. Don't Don't send her anything weird. Just because you know, it's going directly to producer Abby.
I mean, we know that producer Abby is the object of everyone's affections, but that's true, but please do not send her weird stuff. It's a weird topic idea.
Matthew Amster-Burton 21:10
Exactly. All right.
Let's talk about tofu. Yeah. What is tofu,
Matthew Amster-Burton 21:17
okay? tofu is coagulated beancurd, coagulated soy milk. So you make soy milk by grinding soybeans, green soybeans, no dried soybeans, okay? Not edamame. Okay, so so grinding soy beans with liquid and pressing out the soybean. So you have the liquid left, okay. But that liquid still has lots and lots of proteins and carbohydrates and stuff dissolved in it. And just like you can coagulate milk with rennet or another coagulant. You can do the same with soy milk. And when you do that is how you make tofu. And there are two main styles of tofu. The most common one that sold is like a firm or extra firm tofu usually is cotton tofu. That's what's called in Japan. And that is when you it's like a cheese making style process where you press out the way and you press the Kurds into a block.
Okay, okay. And so that's what most of us in the US are probably most familiar with.
Matthew Amster-Burton 22:17
Yes, but there's also silken tofu, which is what you get when you coagulate the soy milk in its container and just leave it in the container and let it solidify. So that's got it's got all the way and the curds kind of smooshed together
which explains why it is so much like softer silkier less much less water
Matthew Amster-Burton 22:36
content. Yeah. And it's it's just it's different.
Okay. And is it called like So? So if the other is cotton tofu, silken tofu, silken tofu, okay. Hold on. Now wait, you you were you know, saying that it's called cotton tofu in Japan tofu. But is, is tofu. Where's it originally from?
Matthew Amster-Burton 22:56
So it is almost certainly originally from China. And boy, do we not know a lot about the history of tofu like I went well beyond Wikipedia. What we can say for sure is it probably goes back at least 2000 years, but it doesn't seem to become like popular and like mentioned in a lot of sources until somewhere around like the ninth to 11th century in China. And then shortly thereafter in Japan,
it's so interesting to me when we think about like, you know, people love to talk about like artichokes, like how they
Matthew Amster-Burton 23:28
love talking about artifacts, they will will not shut up about this, like, how did anybody
ever wind up thinking we should eat this? Like people love to talk about, you know, like marvel at artichokes like that. I mean, I think tofu sounds it's pretty far from the original soybean.
Matthew Amster-Burton 23:44
Oh, yeah. So first you need to think of soya milk.
Well, yeah. So for somebody to think of taking the soybean and taking it presumably out of the pod, drying it, grinding it up, mixing it with water, pressing it, and then adding coagulants like, what foods are we inventing today? That like 2000 years from now people will be like, how did they come up with that?
Matthew Amster-Burton 24:09
Oh, flaming hot Cheetos. Doritos. locos. tacos. Those mainly those things? Sour Patch Kids Sour Patch Kids. Yeah. Exact patch extreme kids. Yes.
Okay. All right. Well, I'm glad we figured Yeah. Okay, cool.
Matthew Amster-Burton 24:22
Yeah. Can you imagine like, like, at our archaeological site, like this one right here, when they when they unearth this in a couple in a couple thau. And the other cool kids say 1000 years. And and they find like some dried up Sour Patch Kids and like, you know, like, why did they have so much citric acid at this at this settlement?
Right? Was there some sort of an illness that was plaguing the population that can only be cured by citric acid for
Matthew Amster-Burton 24:48
example? Yeah, they're they're gonna find the Sour Patch Kids, they might find like some Hubba Bubba bubblegum, that would be hard to explain. Okay, but anyway, yeah. We were in the middle of explaining Something Oh, I was gonna say like the one step that you would think like how, like, where did they get this? coagulant? and What was that all about? Yeah, so the original tofu coagulant was almost certainly seawater, which has enough of the types of salts that coagulate soy milk to work as a tofu coagulant.
So salts coagulate the proteins. Yes. Oh, okay.
Matthew Amster-Burton 25:21
I like sodium chloride is not very effective for this, but calcium chloride is and there's plenty of that in seawater and some some like lakewater. Also, I think it's
so interesting. So when we're using cow's milk, the proteins in that usually are coagulated with an acid.
Matthew Amster-Burton 25:36
Yes. And you can there are tofu is made by coagulating with an acid. It's, it's just like a regional variation.
Okay. This is so interesting. Okay. All right. So when you made tofu, yeah, tell me all about
Matthew Amster-Burton 25:50
it. So okay, name name drop alert. So I emailed Andrea and when, who was was was it is my colleague, food writer, but except that she's like, gone on to continue publishing great books year after year.
Unknown Speaker 26:05
And we made the show.
Matthew Amster-Burton 26:07
And she said, if you're interested in making tofu, I can send you a kit. And I said, Yes, please. And she did. And she sent some some high quality dried soybeans, and plastic tofu press, which is really it's just, it's just like a block of plastic, a plastic mold with like a strainer holds in the bottom so that you can press it and strain out some of the way. Okay, and it was really not very hard to do. I got the sense that this was something that would take practice to like, get the end product to where I'm like, this isn't just like, wow, I made my own tofu. That's cool, too. Like this is actually worth doing because it's as good or better than tofu I can buy. But it was it was definitely an interesting experience.
Did you make silken tofu?
Matthew Amster-Burton 26:51
I made cotton tofu cotton
tofu. And were you able to get it to coagulate into or to you know, to be pressed into a block?
Matthew Amster-Burton 26:57
And so did it taste? Very?
Matthew Amster-Burton 27:01
Yes, it did. It's really satisfying when you add the coagulant i think i think she threw in some coagulant. Also, when you add the coagulant like it, just like boom right away. curdles because you had this like smooth soy milk. And by the way, the best part this is not straight, technically tofu, but like the best part of making homemade tofu is you have this pot of warm soy milk, and it forms a skin on the top and you can peel this skin off and eat it and it is one of the most delicious things in the world. It's called you buy in Japanese
I've seen dried you buy
Matthew Amster-Burton 27:34
yet before. Yeah.
From a restaurant for a recipe in fuchsia dunlops book,
Matthew Amster-Burton 27:40
every grain every grain of rice Yeah, the dried and fresh are quite different but both very delicious. You
know it occurs to me it's you know, people talk about like vegetarian cheese right? Or tofu cheese. I mean, the process for making this is very much like making I think about like when I made pannier. Yeah, you know, you're like warming milk. You're adding an acid. You're repressing the curds into a block and cutting them up into cubes. It's interesting to me. I wonder when when companies market like tofu cheese, how is it just different from tofu?
Matthew Amster-Burton 28:11
I think flavorings Oh, okay. It's my guess. And that's one like, what are the advantages of tofu, especially cotton tofu is that he takes on flavorings very readily because it's porous. Yes. You discovered in college. You were the one who discovered
I did? Yeah, June was just saying to me yesterday, she was like, I don't like tofu very much. It doesn't taste like anything. And I was saying to her, Well, June. Here's the thing, actually, it does taste like something. But most of the time when we when we eat it, it takes on the flavorings of what's around
Matthew Amster-Burton 28:41
it. So this is like, exactly something I want to talk about, which was that I certainly at one point felt the same way. Yeah. And what I then as I like, discovered good tofu. Like that had like a spillover effect. Okay. So a couple weeks ago, by the time you hit this a couple months ago, I did an event at book larder v community cookbook store in Seattle where producer Abbey works. And I interviewed this guy named Derek sand house who wrote a book about by Joe, which is Chinese liquor. And I had never tried this before. And he talks about in the book, how when he first tried it, he thought it was the worst thing he'd ever had. Then, you know, sometime later, he's like, okay, like, I don't like this at all. I don't get why people drink this, but people clearly enjoy it. I want to find out why. And so he went on tasting various different kinds. And then it finally found one that he that he liked, but it wasn't just that he found one that he liked, he was then able to go back to the ones that he didn't like and identify, oh, like, this is what I was supposed to get out of this and now I can enjoy this one too.
This is ideally how humans would approach
Unknown Speaker 29:47
Matthew Amster-Burton 29:49
So so for me like I have had some really really good tofu experiences. And through that, like that made me want to go back and like enjoy Just supermarket tofu in a way that I couldn't before and like I do do that regularly wow Can I can I tell you about some of my some of my really good tofu experiences
yeah my god this this I feel like we need to put on like we need to light we need to sit down to like handle like light something no but I feel like we need to put on like
Matthew Amster-Burton 30:20
I Roman I tend
to be like a little somebody's playing the harp right now or you're like a
Matthew Amster-Burton 30:25
transportadora Shami sand or something? Okay. Yeah, okay, cool. But yeah, have you ever been to the room at at dusty strings music store in Fremont now? Oh, man, I love it. That's my favorite music store in Seattle. It's all kinds of amps, cool electric guitars and I like to go for that reason, but they also have like dulcimers and harps they've, like in a room full of heart. Did
you know that? Brandon bought a full sized harp recently and it's so Brandon anyway, but oh my god, it's really beautiful.
Matthew Amster-Burton 30:56
Does he know how to play it?
I think he's learning I think he's taking heart bless.
Matthew Amster-Burton 31:00
Where was I going with this
is? Oh, delicious.
Matthew Amster-Burton 31:05
So I went to this restaurant in Tokyo in 2012. called ooh Chi tofu? Yeah, it is a tofu like a tasting menu tofu restaurant. It's super fancy. I went by myself for lunch. I had to make a reservation, like a week in advance.
What did it cost to go there for lunch? Like a tasting menu?
Matthew Amster-Burton 31:23
I think like 60 bucks. Wow,
that's still very reasonable
Matthew Amster-Burton 31:27
for what I was getting drink any alcohol Oh, would have been much more. Most of the of the dishes in the tasting menu contains tofu in one way or another but like the signature dish was because it was summertime was cold tofu. Like freshly made tofu in, like a cold dashi broth. And which, which, like, if you're if you're not already on the tofu tray, and like, no one's gonna hear that and be like, yum, like, sign me up. And I was I was skeptical because like, it was just a big bowl of cold broth with like, two scoops of tofu floating it. Okay. Or like not even floating sink again. Okay, it was so delicious.
Did you do anything really emotional, like cry? No,
Matthew Amster-Burton 32:11
I did something really emotional. I kept saying.
Unknown Speaker 32:16
Wow. Yeah, we could
talk to Watson and see if that's how you express all your emotions.
Matthew Amster-Burton 32:21
It is like, like,
when Watson comes home and she's had a really hard day and you're like
Matthew Amster-Burton 32:28
yeah, I was super fun to live it. Yeah. And then like, I lick something and pass it to, like, here have a cookie. Okay, going on. And like, you know, the the definitely like, the the server came over and it was like as good or see, like, you know, it was good. And so and so like that was one of my formative experiences. A couple years later we were in Osaka and had breakfast at the at the hotel we were staying at and when they do the Japanese breakfast at this hotel, they they have like a seasonal flavored housemade tofu and it was kabocha squash flavored which the flavor the squash flavor was very subtle, but it was just this really good freshly made silken tofu and it came it was served with like this this slotted spoon to eat it with it with her like a strainer on a stick. Because it was so delicate you there's no way you can pick it up with chopsticks. And it was delicious teenager the show Iris loved it also
amazing. Yeah, love it. Okay, so go on Matthew, tell me more.
Matthew Amster-Burton 33:30
I know So then after that, I was like, okay, like, you know, I'm not gonna get tofu of that quality all the time. But now I can kind of taste the same things that I tasted in that really good freshly made tofu. Even when I'm buying tofu, you know, in a in a plastic tub at a watch or Maya or Trader Joe's?
Yeah. Okay. So what do you do with tofu at home? What what type Do you buy for it? Like, I don't know. Can you like tip me off on to some brands because I just
Matthew Amster-Burton 33:57
show Yeah, let me let me tip you off. Okay, so um, for silken tofu, my favorite one to buy is morinaga morti new silken tofu and it comes in several different furnaces it comes in a box and opening the box is kind of fun because it's a tetra pack box and the tofu curdles like, you know firms in this box because it's a silken tofu. It the box comes with like three step instruct instructions for opening it. Oh my gosh. So like, you pop up the little tabs and you cut those and then you cut across and then you cut off one of the tabs at the bottom to vent it so you can slide the block of tofu out and
so silken firm tofu, you're going to be able to cut it into cubes, but it's still gonna have that silky really Yes,
Matthew Amster-Burton 34:38
it's still very fragile. So this is my favorite one to use for Mapo dove.
Okay, and will you for those of us who haven't made mapo tofu, would you tell us a little bit about like the characteristic flavorings of it?
Matthew Amster-Burton 34:52
Yeah, so it is a set Chinese dish that is made with Sichuan fermented chili bean paste dovan Jong and And Sichuan peppercorn and so it is very spicy and numbing and a little funky and it's and you can usually has meat but it doesn't have to. It's very delicious. One of my favorite things to me
and it's so it's fairly saucy very saucy Yeah. Okay, and then what else do you do with this particular type of tofu?
Matthew Amster-Burton 35:20
Okay The other thing I love making with silken tofu
is every time you say
Matthew Amster-Burton 35:29
well, I mean you know how well I did in college without the lovemaking
I made this joke like 200
Matthew Amster-Burton 35:34
episodes, but it's it was time for it to come back around like
Unknown Speaker 35:39
I've been sitting on it
when you're like I love making okay? Yeah, God I'm such a child. No, no, it's good.
Matthew Amster-Burton 35:52
I know we've said this before but this is how we stay young forever by never doing anything mature. Okay, cool. Oh, the other day is here Jaco. Here Jaco is a is a like summer tofu dish that is very popular in Japan. I mean, all times of year. You can like order it in any bar in Japan kind of it is cubes of silken tofu that are just kind of like lightly garnished with fish flakes. katsuobushi and grated ginger and scallions. It's soy sauce.
Unknown Speaker 36:25
Served served cold served cold. That sounds delightful in the summertime. Yeah. Okay, cool.
Matthew Amster-Burton 36:30
Yeah, it's one of those things where like, you know, there there is a moment when you've if you've had it and enjoyed it, you'll like come to a moment where you're like, this is the thing I had need to have right now.
What about cotton tofu?
Matthew Amster-Burton 36:42
Okay, cotton tofu. There are a couple of things that I like to do with that too. number one favorite is bear paw tofu, which is in fuchsia dunlops book every grain of rice.
Matthew Amster-Burton 36:52
And I know is a favorite of producer Abbey's also. Oh,
I've never had it.
Matthew Amster-Burton 36:57
is this book I've never noticed it
Matthew Amster-Burton 37:00
definitely make this recipe Okay, it is it's a little more work than than mapo tofu because you need to power fry the tofu. So you you take the cotton tofu you cut it up into into square like small squares, like a centimeter thick or so. And then you fry them in oil and you you set them aside. And then you stir fry the fried tofu pieces with like search when you see things like chili bean paste and like long lengths of scallion and a little bit of soy sauce. Maybe a little bit of vinegar. And it's so good that the tofu gets like this this like juicy texture. It likes it stays it's still like a little bit crispy from the frying but it's soaks up all of the saucy seasonings.
Yeah. Oh, good. Okay.
Matthew Amster-Burton 37:49
Also wanted a teenager the show irises favorites and yoodo food which I've only actually made a couple of times but it's like the thing to do like if at least Japanese style if if you have some good tofu that you really want to highlight and like if you live in a city of any appreciable size there's probably a local tofu factory that is making tofu and like that's the brand you should look for tofu brands are not super national.
What about you know tofu from Trader Joe's are from like, your local supermarket like do you feel good about this? Are they good?
Matthew Amster-Burton 38:24
I feel okay about them. Okay, I never got to what you tofu is I'm sorry. Just it's really just like a tofu simmered in broth? Like a tofu hotpot.
So would that would you use cotton tofu?
Matthew Amster-Burton 38:36
You can use either, but yeah, probably cotton.
Okay, so do you ever buy cotton tofu at Trader Joe's?
Matthew Amster-Burton 38:43
Yeah, absolutely. You know, a tofu that's been sitting around in a plastic tub is it's never going to be like the one that you want to highlight as like, you know, this, this is my tofu statement. But if you're going to make it into mapo tofu or bear pa tofu or something else where it's going to be highly seasoned, it's going to be great. Awesome. Okay. Yeah, definitely, definitely do can like do continue buying those tofu is like don't stop like you were going to just because our shop.
So I think that we should link to Andrea Quinn's book Asian tofu. Oh, yeah. On the website. We should also link to fuchsia dunlops every grain of rice and probably fuchsia dunlops newer book the food of Sichuan.
Matthew Amster-Burton 39:27
Yeah, I think probably so that the mapo tofu recipe I make is from Andrea wins book and I'm pretty sure he's on her blog. I think we've linked to it before we'll do it again. Yeah, that's his pill dog podcast. Calm and possible the bear pod tofu recipes online too, but by by fuchsia dunlops books. Oh my gosh. It's
like, all of these books are fantastic.
Matthew Amster-Burton 39:48
We start to talk about stinky tofu. Stinky tofu is. It's especially popular in Taiwan. Well, the thing I think is funny about stinky tofu.
And I'm aware that I am I'm really Being I'm being done here Tell me about stinky tofu. Well,
Matthew Amster-Burton 40:05
no, I don't think I don't think you are because I think I think even like aficionados of stinky tofu are kind of like happy in a in a like braggy sort of way when they hear that someone can't handle it like so. You know stinky tofu is not it I think it's different for most stinky cheeses in the sense that so okay so first of all it is a marinated tofu preparation where you take like a cotton tofu and marinated in some kind of funky brine often for quite a while and then usually fry it
Unknown Speaker 40:38
that is not what I
Matthew Amster-Burton 40:39
read popular in Taiwan but also in other parts of China.
And so what would make the brine funky
Matthew Amster-Burton 40:45
oh so could be it could have like like fermented fish in it, you know, fermented vegetables all kinds of stuff.
That actually sounds pretty good
Matthew Amster-Burton 40:55
right? So so it is good but stinky tofu like so. So like when you have a stinky cheese like often you'll say like okay, but if you can get past the smell of the of the camera bear or the applause or whatever, like it's really just kind of mild and like you know, and what's not to like? stinky tofu is not like that at all. Like it is profoundly stinky. And then the flavor is like even stinkier usually interesting. You know, there there is nothing euphemistic about the name, okay? Or like no, no, there's nothing like what's the opposite of euphemistic? It's not an overstatement.
Okay. And did you eat this when you were in Taiwan?
Matthew Amster-Burton 41:37
Did you do when I was in Taiwan? I ate one piece and I was like, I think I could learn to like this, but it would take some more tries. Okay. But I mean, it's, you know, it's like it's like the Chinese liquor that Derek soundhouse figured out how to make himself like i think i think he would get me the exposure to stinky tofu in the right context. I'm sure I would become an insufferable stinky tofu person is like you got to try this.
I think it's that way with with so many different strongly flavored things like a around the world. I mean, for instance, June just last night, I took her with me to the grocery store, and I was buying some cheese among other things. And I was really having trouble deciding among these different cheeses and so I was trying to sniff them through the plastic, which is a fool's errand. But anyway,
Matthew Amster-Burton 42:29
you know, what I do? I lick them and put them back.
She She couldn't even like tolerate the smell through the plastic wrap. And I know that there was a time when I was the very same way, but through like repeated exposure, as you'll hear on next week's episode, and through like the sheer desire to like learn about this
Matthew Amster-Burton 42:51
food I just realized, I love it. I think next week's episode is actually our 10th anniversary episode and the one we that we've been teasing is actually two weeks from now. That's cool. No, no, it's all happening.
This cool. It's it's all it's all a celebration of stink.
Matthew Amster-Burton 43:08
Yep. Okay. The next week's episode is also stinky. No,
love to stay tuned.
Matthew Amster-Burton 43:13
10th anniversary episode is a celebration of our own funk that we have been fermenting for 10 years. Oh my god, I'm
it's I'm a little bit scared to tape that episode. Yeah.
Matthew Amster-Burton 43:26
You can find us it's fellbach podcast calm firstname.lastname@example.org slash build out podcast. You know, we their whole like, you know, we didn't talk about Indonesian tofu at all. And there's there's a big tradition of tofu in Indonesia, because I don't know very much about it. So we would love to hear like what you are doing with tofu beyond what we talked about.
Yeah, we really only mentioned four dishes here. Yeah. Plus my hippie tofu sandwich.
Matthew Amster-Burton 43:50
Yeah, I mean, that's that's really like the the thing that most people think of first,
yeah, around the world. I would also love to hear if people have like, hippie tofu preparations that they feel really strongly about that like really hold up. You know, even if you're no longer a hippie.
Matthew Amster-Burton 44:07
Yeah, but but you should probably still be a hippie.
Probably. At least we should all be happy. Yeah.
Matthew Amster-Burton 44:13
At least in terms of the sandals and the and the political beliefs. Yeah. So what else? Our producers Abbey circuit tell you can find us on Instagram at spilled milk podcast.
Oh, please send us your topic ideas for our January 16 live show. send those ideas to topics at spilled milk podcast calm.
Matthew Amster-Burton 44:32
Yep, we'll catch him in our secret inbox. Oh, I don't I don't feel good about that. And until next time. Thank you for listening is filled Malak. We love making you laugh.
Matthew Amster-Burton 44:48
and I'm Matthew Amster-Burton.
Don't send tofu either. Don't Don't actually like send tofu into our inbox or send that as a topic because we're doing
such a dad joke like when my dad used to say we should fax like fax slices of cake and stuff.