Quest for dou jiang (豆漿）
Dou jiang (豆漿) is a breakfast food that's very common in Taiwan, I'm guessing as a result of the northern Chinese influence from many of the Nationalists. It's soybean milk that is served hot, in your choice of sweet (甜豆漿, tian dou jiang) or salty (鹹豆漿, xian dou jiang). Sweet has sugar added, and I'm not sure what else. In my opinion, salty is the more interesting choice. The soybean milk has been curdled with a little vinegar, and mixed with hot oil (辣油, la you), preserved vegetables (酸菜, suan cai), and usually a little dried seafood. The best dou jiang has a "fluffy" look. If the soybean milk looks smooth and like what you can buy in the grocery store, you can ask for a little more vinegar to make it fluffier. Good accompaniments for dou jiang are you tiao (油條, long thin pieces of fried dough) and shao bing (燒餅, a kind of flatbread/biscuit with sesame). You tiao is sometimes called 'Chinese cruller' or 'Chinese donut', but it's not sweet. Chung May sells you tiao in packages at room temperature, but I'd much rather have freshly made hot you tiao.
I've been looking for dou jiang in Chinatown for some months now, but not trying very hard, just looking for it on a menu whenever I remember to. The fresh tofu post recently made me try a little harder - I finally memorized the character for 'jiang' (漿) and now I'm seeing it practically everywhere.
Heung Fa Chun Sweet House (杏花tun甜品店, xing hua tun[? my computer won't write this rare character] tian pin dian, "Apricot Flower Village Sweet Shop") has dou jiang. It's on their sign (see photo), but I didn't see it written on the wall menu inside. They do have both sweet and salty though, every day of the week except Wednesday. They also have you tiao, but not shao bing; two servings of salty dou jiang and you tiao (2 pieces/serving) come to a total of $3.75. For the salty dou jiang, we asked for suan cai, la you, and vinegar. It came with little dried shrimp, with eyes intact. I had to keep adding la you to mine because it wasn't hot enough. I'm so happy that I finally got to eat xian dou jiang in Philadelphia! And it was pretty easy to find all this time.
Side Walk Sweet House has dou jiang. The girl at the counter didn't speak Mandarin that well, and it's hard to explain in English ("sort of like soy bean milk, but ..."), but my impression is that they only have sweet dou jiang. I had already eaten salty dou jiang, so I didn't try out the sweet version here.
Heung Fa Chun Sweet House
114 N. 10th (across the street from Penang)
Side Walk Sweet House
148 N. 10th
Chung May (grocery store)
1017 Race St
* If you see a lot of question marks, your computer probably can't display Chinese characters. Throughout this post I have used traditional characters, and pinyin for the romanized Mandarin - without tone markings - don't try to pronounce these with the regular English phonetics. If you are curious, try looking them up at http://www.mandarintools.com/worddict... (has links to sound files of pronunciations). I believe Heung Fa Chun is romanized Cantonese.
Dou jiang (豆漿) seems to be a popular breakfast substitue for cow's in most Asian countries. I've enjoyed it in many countries, though, I've never had the 'fluffy' variety you discuss. I know when you make tofu 豆腐 you must add a bit of something acidic to bring the solid out of suspension...I avoid the you tiao 油條 as it's usually greasy which from a nutritional sense to be like eating oatmeal with bacon!!!
I drink dou jiang daily, usually for breakfast, sometimes for other meals as well. When I lived in the US, I never drank it fresh, rather, I got it from the box (Silk Soymilk), but here (PRC) I first got it from the grocery store, from shops that make dou fu (tofu) or the street at the universities where I've worked. About 2 years ago, I bought a machine and enjoy it fresh without the addition of salt or sugar. It makes about a liter which is enough for a family of 3 or for 2 days worth for a greedy laowai.
It's easy with the machine and takes about as long to make as it does for me to take a shower in the morning. Soak the soybeans overnight, turn it on and it beeps when it's finished. Like you say, it's healthy and wonderful to drink!!
Thanks for doing the research. (I had long given up on trying to find dou jiang in Chinatown and had to go down to Washington Ave for my fix.) I've never heard of this salty variety but from the ingredients, especially the you tiao and suan cai (usually cabbage, correct?), it sounds quite a bit like congee, the kind I always had growing up.
How are the shao bing, by the way? I love them hot and fresh, but that seems to be a rarity here in the Philly area - oh how I love Houston where you couldn't throw a rock without hitting a spot that made fresh shao bing.
I have no idea what vegetable is made into suan cai (literally, sour vegetable). I always hated congee (we called it soupy rice) growing up, but now it's a comfort food :)
Actually I haven't had freshly-made shao bing (the flattish bread with sesame seeds) here in Philly. Heung Fa Chun does not have shao bing. Know of any good places that do?