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24/07/2019 - 08:57

“Dau hu” (tofu pudding)

In the North, this dessert is called “tao pho” and in the South, it is called “tau hu”. This is a simple but delicious afternoon treat. In Hue, it is often sold by street vendors and is called “Dau hu”. In order to bring out the unique taste of this dish, Hue people add a bit of fragrant and spicy ginger, either crushed or sliced.

Dau hu, a simple but delicious afternoon treat. Photo: Archive

Dau hu is very cheap! About ten years ago, it was only VND500 a bowl. Once upon a time, only VND500 was enough for an afternoon treat.

Dau hu is made from soy beans so it carries with it the precious qualities of the yellow soy beans: simple and nutritious. Dau hu is a light dish, so it can be enjoyed even among those with the pickiest stomach. Although it looks simple, “good hands” are required to make a good batch of dau hu

“Hands" here means not only "skill", but also a particular “scent” from the hands of the maker – a wonderful “chemical reaction” that I cannot explain. Soybeans are first cleaned, then grinded and filtered to get its milk. Next, add cold water and boil. The boiled mixture is put into a container to coagulate. The secret of making delicious dau hu is the reasonable ratio between beans and water, and the exact ratio depends on the experience of each person.

There is no need to hear the familiar Hue sound, “Ai dau hu khon!” (“Would anyone care for some dau hu?” Just by looking at the two wooden containers being carried from afar, one can surely recognize it is a dau hu seller.

The wooden containers have a very characteristic shape: the front barrel consists of three shelves. The first holds water to wash the serving bowls with pandan leaves and a few slices of lemon. The second shelf holds lemon, ginger juice, and sugar. The third shelf is the money box, which is carefully covered by the aunties selling dau hu. White porcelain bowls neatly lie on top. The back barrel is the dau hu container made from terracotta to keep the dau hu hot.

The dau hu selling auntie has a very strange utensil: a “wiper”, which resembles a ladle but is rather flat. This tool allows for very thin “slices” of dau hu to be scooped out, which when served in a bowl, look very elegant and eye-catching. Because it is a very special dish, even the utensil is one of a kind! 

The white bowls of watery dau hu are fragrant with ginger and fresh lemon. The heat from fresh ginger and warm syrup makes the dau hu taste richer and more elegant. When eating, you would need to use a spoon to mix the sugar. I would always feel pity because I have to break apart the fragments of fragile, white dau hu.

With the first spoonful, the dau hu slowly dissolves in the mouth with its sweetness and coolness. By the time it drifts down into the throat, you can feel the warm and pleasant syrup. I often find people cooling off by putting ice in the dessert, but I find that it is actually not very healthy to do so. Hot drinks are more effective and healthier. They warm the mouth and cool the tummy.

In the afternoon, after a full lunch of fish and meat, enjoy a bowl of Hue dau hu and you will find yourself feeling lighter and more refreshed. 

Story and photo: Thuc Dan

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