Tofu Pudding (Tào Phớ/Douhua) is a delicious Asian dessert made from soy milk. This post will show you the easiest method to make it at home and ways to serve it.
What is Tofu Pudding?
Tofu pudding (also called soybean pudding) is extra soft and silky tofu/beancurd served as a light dessert in Vietnamese cuisine and Chinese cuisine. It is called douhua in Chinese. In Vietnam, we have so many names for it depending on the regions such as: tào phớ, phớ, tàu pha, tàu hũ nước đường.
I grew up eating this dessert regularly. Street hawkers selling it often carried a long and sturdy bamboo stick on their shoulders with two baskets hung at two ends which contained a huge pot of tofu pudding, a small pot of sugar syrup, and several small bowls and spoons. They meandered around the streets while shouting out “Ai… tào phớ đây” (which means ” Who wants tofu pudding here”) every few minutes.
The pudding is often made by using a coagulant, usually GDL (glucono delta-lactone, đường nho), to congeal the soy milk. In this post, I want to share an easier method to make the pudding by using gelatin sheets.
Making Douhua Using Gelatin Sheets
Tofu pudding made with gelatin sheets may look slightly bouncy on the surface, but the thin curds that you ladle will actually feel soft, tender and melt in the mouth.
One big advantage of this method is it is super quick and easy to make with easy to find ingredients. The disadvantage is you will not be able to serve it hot.
Soy milk: I use store-bought fresh soy milk which contains just soybeans, water, and a touch of sugar. Sugar-free soy milk is totally fine. It is best to avoid using soy milk with other additives.
Gelatin sheets: I recommend using gelatin sheets and not the gelatin powder. I’m not a fan of gelatin powder which usually has a strong unpleasant smell. I use these gelatin sheets from Vahine brand, but you can find other brands on Amazon too.
Since you may use different soy milk brands or even use homemade soy milk, you may need to experiment with the ratio of milk and gelatin sheets. Some soy milk may have a thicker or thinner texture, requiring less or more coagulant.
1️⃣ Soak the gelatin sheets in cold water for about 10 minutes. Before using, remove and gently squeeze to remove excess water.
2️⃣ Heat the soy milk until it starts to simmer very gently. Add the gelatin and stir to dissolve completely.
3️⃣ Pour the mixture into a container (you may pour it through a sieve/strainer to make sure it is smooth). Let it cool down, then cover and refrigerate for several hours until it sets.
How to Serve Tofu Pudding
Tofu pudding made with gelatin sheets can only be served cold or at room temperature. Here are the traditional ways to serve tào phớ in Vietnam:
With clear syrup: this is the classic way to eat tào phớ in Northern Vietnam. The syrup is a simple white sugar syrup infused with jasmine flower fragrance. Viet people love to infuse dessert soups with jasmine flowers, like what I show in this lotus seeds with longan sweet soup. If it is not possible to infuse the syrup, I recommend choosing the other serving methods below.
With ginger syrup: serving tofu pudding with a gingery brown sugar syrup is more popular in Southern Vietnam. You can use brown sugar or even palm sugar (like in this glutinous rice balls with ginger syrup recipe), then simmer with water and fresh ginger slices. Some people also eat the ginger slices when serving the pudding and syrup.
With soy milk: this is a way to serve tofu pudding in Hanoi, and it’s personally our most favorite way. Tofu pudding curds are ladled into serving bowls and then covered with soy milk. When the dessert is served like this, we call it tào phớ sữa.
Nowadays, young Vietnamese people enjoy tào phớ in more creative ways. They can add some toppings such as boba pearls, grass jelly and toasted coconut flakes. Now, let’s head to the recipe card where you can find detailed measurements and instructions.
More Asian Dessert Recipes
I’d love to hear what you think about the dish, so please feel free to leave a comment and a rating if you have tried it. New recipes are added every week so let’s connect on Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates. You can find my collection of Vietnamese recipes here.
Tofu Pudding (Tào Phớ/Douhua)
For the tofu pudding
- 2 gelatin sheets (about 2g each gelatin sheet with 200-225 bloom strengths)
- 1 5/6 cups good quality soy milk (440-450ml)
To serve with ginger syrup
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar (10g, light brown sugar is also fine)
- 3 1/2 tablespoons rock sugar (40g, or use all brown sugar)
- 1 cup water (240ml)
- a 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced (about 10g)
To serve with soy milk
- more cold soy milk
To make the tofu pudding
- Place the gelatin sheets in a bowl of cold water and soak to hydrate for 10 minutes.
- Add 1⅚ cups of soy milk to a small pot and place over medium-low to medium heat. Bring it to a very gentle simmer when steams start coming out and tiny bubbles form on the surface.
- Remove gelatin sheets from water and gently squeeze to remove excess water. Add them to the pot of soy milk and stir to dissolve completely.
- Remove the pot from the heat and pour over a sieve into a clean container. If there are any bubbles on the surface, remove them for a smooth surface. Let the milk mixture cool down, then cover and let it set in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.
To make the ginger syrup
- Add all the sugar and water to a small pot over medium heat. Bring it to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Add ginger slices and simmer for another 5-10 minutes until the syrup reaches your desired sweetness and consistency. You can adjust to taste with more or less sugar and ginger.
- Transfer to a container, let it cool then cover and chill in the refrigerator.
- To serve the pudding with ginger syrup: use a ladle to cut the pudding into thin curds and place them in serving bowls, then pour the cold ginger syrup over it.
- To serve the pudding with soy milk: use a ladle to cut the pudding into thin curds and place them in serving bowls, then pour cold soy milk over it.