Disclosure: I am serving as an ambassador for the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board by highlighting stories surrounding Arkansas’s largest row crop – soybeans! #ARSoyStory #themiraclebean #ARSoySupper
Guess what everybody? It’s National Soyfoods Month. Bake a cake! Hang the party streamers! Drag out that punchbowl! C’mon, get happy!
In case you were wondering, you may already be indirectly celebrating. How’s that, you say? Wellllll… soyfoods are often a part of our everyday lives, whether we realize it or not. Do you love drinking a crisply sweet cup of milk before you rush out the door? I bet the dairy cows were fed a diet based on soy. Planning on grilling that gorgeous rib-eye steak this weekend? You guessed it… the cow may have been fattened up on a diet consisting of soy. I can personally say that soyfoods were a lifesaver for me during those fifteen years when I went dairy-free. Because of soy my life was filled soy cream cheese, soymilk and soy ice cream. Shew.
In honor of this humble legume (and Arkansas’s largest row crop!), let us jump in and celebrate April’s National Soyfoods Month in style. Here are three fun ways to celebrate.
1.Visit a restaurant that makes delicious soy-centered meals.
This month, Three Fold Noodles+Dumpling Co., a wildly popular restaurant in the heart of Downtown Little Rock is participating in the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board’s Kitchen|Fields Table Tour. Their featured dish is Hong Shao Beef Noodle Soup, a signature dish of Taiwan with Sichuan influences. The beef shank, raised on a diet of soy, is tenderized through a cooking process called red braising, or hong shao and enveloped in a rich seasoned broth. Looks delicious, doesn’t it?
If you find yourself in Little Rock, stop in Three Fold and try it! Be sure to tell me what you think so I can live vicariously through you.
Since I’m in Northwest Arkansas, a four-ish hour drive North of Little Rock, I had the opportunity to facetime with owner and executive chef Lisa Zhang from Three Fold Noodles+Dumpling Co. and talked with her about all things soy. Today I will just skim the surface.
We chatted about soy in Chinese culture as a very important protein. Did you know that soymilk is the top breakfast in China? That’s right, it is more important than anything else. Sweetened with sugar and consumed warm, soymilk is treated in China like we treat coffee here in the United States. It is a necessity. Lisa shared that she, “hopes people can realize this very precious protein that comes in so many varieties all starts from the soymilk. From warm milk to a soft breakfast jelly or firm tofu, you can cook anything you want.”
2. Make Mapo Doufou, a classic Szechuan dish.
Speaking of making “anything you want” from tofu, why not make a classic spicy Szechuan (dish called Mapo Doufou? For some reason, Americans call it tofu instead of doufou, the correct Chinese way to pronounce it. This is a flavorful dish and an excellent introduction to consuming tofu for newbies. You are going to want to select a firm texture, drain it and then slice in half before cutting it up in bite-sized pieces. Tofu has no flavor so the spiciness in this dish will be absorbed.
Recipe created by Chef Lisa Zhang of Three Fold Noodles+Dumpling Co in Little Rock, Arkansas. Shared with permission. Serves 4-6
(2) 14 ounce boxes of fresh tofu (soft or firm will do)
4-6 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced ginger
4 tablespoon finely chopped green onion
2 tablespoon fermented black beans
4 ounce ground fresh chili paste (such as Sambal Olek)
2 ounce soy sauce
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 tablespoon cooking oil
½ cup water
- Rinse the tofu and cut into ½” cubes. Drain of any excess liquid.
- Heat cooking oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, ginger and green onion to the pan and sauté until fragrant, being careful not to burn.
- Add the chili paste to the pan and sauté for just a couple of seconds.
- Pour in the soy sauce and cook until boiling. This also should take just a few seconds.
- Add water and sugar to the pan. Bring the sauce to boil.
- Once the sauce is boiling, add the tofu to the pan, stirring gently to coat each cube with the sauce. Bring to a boil for 1-2 minutes over medium-high heat, to reduce the sauce so that the tofu is well coated.
- Serve and enjoy!
3. Get to know the versatility of soybeans.
Last but not least, to celebrate National Soyfoods Months means that we take the time to understand and support all the ways that soyfoods are available to us. From the rotating Kitchen|Field Tours each month, to the recipes highlighted on the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board’s website, and to the dishes and recipes I share here on the blog such as succotash and cheesecake. Supporting the foods that use soybeans supports our farmers and supports our state. If you are already a fan of soy foods, what are your favorite ways to enjoy?
Eat well, my friends. Eat well.