Growing up, I would fly to Taiwan every summer with my mom and my younger sister to visit my mom’s side of the family. We stayed at my grandparents’ place, an old three-story house situated in a dilapidated neighborhood that has been in existence since the early 20th century. The only man of the house, my mother’s father, was a reserved ex-military soldier who lived by a strict, time-sensitive routine. At around 5 a.m. each day, he awoke for a morning walk, simultaneously picking up breakfast for the rest of the family. Breakfast food items would vary from steamed buns to fried eggs wrapped in scallion pancakes, but the drink item was almost always consistent: doujiang, or soybean milk.
Rich in texture and aromatic in flavor, doujiang is a popular Taiwanese breakfast staple. The best thing about it is its simplicity, which in turn makes it quite versatile. My grandpa always bought our subtly sweet soybean milk from the same vendor—I could tell because of the way it always came in a black plastic bag tied around the straw with a pink string.. However, I have also tried savory soybean milk served with deep-fried dough (you tiao) or with savory condiments like chopped scallions and sesame oil.
Just last year my mom learned how to make her own soybean milk so we could enjoy it homemade in the US. The recipe is as follows—it is simple, only requiring two ingredients:
12 oz. soybeans (use organic if available)
14 cups water
Rinse the soybeans then soak them overnight to soften.
The next day, rinse the soybeans again and then remove the skins. The removal of the skins doesn’t have to be perfect, but it helps to create soybean milk with a smoother texture.
In a large blender, blend the soybeans together with the water until smooth (this process can be done in batches if you don’t have a large blender).
Transfer the mixture to a large pot and bring it to a boil, stirring often. When the liquid begins to boil, lower the heat to medium-low and let it simmer until the milk has been reduced to the desired consistency. The longer the boil, the creamier the texture.
When the mixture is done, use a cheesecloth or a fine-mesh sieve to filter the milk into a large pitcher (or whatever container you have on hand).
You may sweeten the finished product with honey,to taste, or serve it with your choice of condiments (i.e. – chopped scallions, chili or sesame oil, fried shallots, Chinese crullers, etc.). This is a simple, healthy recipe that can easily be customized to one’s liking!
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