Cowless Curds

August 21, 2015

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It’s 1952 and Gourmet columnist Lawton Mackell is about to try tofu for the first time. The host of Ho-Ho restaurant, George Seto, has persuaded him to deviate from his usual favorite, winter melon soup, and order dow fo choy sum instead. What follows, under the title “Cowless Curds" is pure delight – and a reminder that the magazine was ahead of the curve in acknowledging New York's culinary diversity: 

“Abandoning the idea of winter melon soup, a specialty which the Ho Ho’s chef does superbly, I put my soup fate into their hands. Result: Chinese tureen of dow fo choy sum— clear, flavorful chicken broth containing sliced water chestnuts, hearts of bok choy (Chinese cabbage), julienne of pork, and quite a few cubes of delicate bean curd.  Though the admission came hard, honesty compels me to acknowledge that the opaque white cubes were as fascinating in taste and texture as the translucent green ones of my yearning and that the soup was an equal success.

 I was puzzled, though, by soy bean’s ability to be always dark in soy sauce and always snow-white in curd.  Host George explained that soy sauce, besides being a vehicle for salt, contains caramel. The curd, on the other hand, is made from crushed bean sans coloring.  It comes from the manufacturers in square flat cakes which, even under refrigeration, deteriorate within twenty-four hours. Hence, they are a rarity in restaurants anywhere outside the radius of an active Chinese colony. I might add that cubed curd melts in the mouth."

 

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