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Tawa, Kembang Tahu, Dofu Hua:
Soy Custard by any name
In Asian communities around the world, people enjoy a soy-based treat called "taho" or "kembang tahu" in Indonesia. Known as "tofu fa", "dohua", "dofu nao", or "dofu hwa (tender tofu blossom)" in Chinese restaurants, it is also billed as "tawa" or "Dau hu", as you travel toward Saigon. This soft, sweet, creamy soy custard is a popular street food or snack. In the Philippines it's served with a sweet, thick caramel sauce, while the Cantonese version has a thin syrup laced with ginger. As you migrate toward Indonesia and Vietnam, it may be served mixed with fruit syrup or sugar syrup and chunks of gulaman (coconut jelly). Sweetened tapioca pearls just like those used in bubble tea can also be found stirred into taho. It may be sold from tubs on the street or in shops, sometimes with a separate container of sweetener, refrigerated or hot. It is also ladled up fresh in cafes and dim sum houses, served in soups or as a dessert (hot or cold).
There is a natural sweetness to taho, which has the fragile consistency similar to panna cotta. If you allow the dish to become more watery (this happens naturally as it sits), you can serve it as a soup.
This sweet treat is soy milk either jelled with agar or thickened with the same coagulant used for tofu. The texture varies from sippable to spoonable. Both taho and regular tofu are sometimes translated as tofu pudding, soy bean custard or soy bean pudding, leading to considerable confusion among recipes. In addition, Chinese cuisine includes several desserts that are made from regular tofu and sugar syrups, so it is easy to be misled. The recipes that follow are collected from local cooks in several countries; if you try one and it is not exactly what you remember, try another.
Taho/ tawa is usually unflavored, depending on its syrups and add-ins for flavor and texture. Modern cooks may add other flavors like chocolate, sesame or peanut to the made from scratch recipes, just by adding the desired flavoring as an extract or powder and cooking it with the soy milk before adding the jelling ingredient.
Taho/ tawa is served hot, warm, or cold, depending on the weather. The flavoring syrup is usually packaged on the side, allowing the happy eater to sweeten to taste. Since it is hard to find outside large oriental communities, here are four alternative methods for making it at home. Always handle the dofu hua very gently, with a big shallow ladle, or it will break into a hundred tiny pieces.
Almost Instant Taho/ tawa
Taho/ tawa from soy flour
Taho/ tawa from soymilk
Tofu-fa (Chinese style) from soybeans or soymilk
Syrups for Taho/ Tawa
Here is a quickie when you don't have time to make Tawa. It is very pretty and light tasting but has a fine protein content.