Culinary Fun Fact: Soy Allergy

Ingredients to avoid —> Hydrolyzed soy protein, miso, shoyu sauce, soy-anything, soy protein concentrate, soy protein isolate, soy sauce, soybean, soybean granules, soybean curd, tempeh, textured vegetable protein, tofu.

Foods commonly containing soy —> Baby foods, baked goods (cakes, cookies, muffins, breads), baking mixes, breakfast cereals, packaged dinners like macaroni and cheese, canned tuna packed in oil, margarine, shortening, vegetable oil and anything with vegetable oil in it, snack foods (including crackers, chips, pretzels), nondairy creamers, vitamin supplements.

Substitutions —> There are no good substitutes for items like tofu and soy sauce, so choose recipes that don’t directly rely on soy-based products. Read labels carefully as soy is used in an astonishing number of commercial products, often in places that you wouldn’t suspect, such as pasta sauce.

Kuromame (Sweet Black Soybeans)


  • 3½ ounces kuromame (black soybean)
  • 3 ounces raw sugar
  • 1 tablespoon  Japanese soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp sea salt

Rinse kuromame and discard any that have spoiled.  Soak it in  water for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Discard the water.

Boil kuromame with water in a pot and add sugar, soy sauce and salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Simmer under low heat for about 3 hours or until soft. Remove any white foam and impurities that form during simmering.

Remove from heat and let it cool. Refrigerate overnight so that the beans will absorb more flavor.


Yosedofu (Easy Japanese Soft Tofu)

2 teaspoons liquid nigari *
3 cups Tezukuri Tonyu (Homemade Soy Milk)

Thin the nigari with 1 teaspoon water. Heat the soy milk in a double boiler over high heat until the soy milk reaches 167 degrees. Remove the pot holding the soy milk, insert a flat wooden spoon in the milk, and immediately pour the nigari against the spoon. Slowly stir the soy milk, making 3 wide revolutions and only 3 revolutions, and pull the wooden spoon straight up out of the coagulating soy milk. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 10 minutes.

Scoop the tofu into small bowls and serve drizzled with a little soy sauce or sprinkled with sea salt. If you are looking for a bit more enhanced flavor and presentation, garnish soy sauce–flavored tofu with finely chopped chives and a dab of grated ginger or salt-flavored with a smidge of freshly grated wasabi.

* Nigari —> Concentrated solution of salts (esp. magnesium chloride) left over after the crystallization of seawater or brine.  Can be bought at any Asian Grocer or online,

Tezukuri Tonyu (Homemade Soy Milk)


⅓ pound small, flavorful dried soybeans

Soak the soybeans in 3 times their amount of fresh spring or well water (2½ cups) for 9 to 15 hours depending upon the ambient temperature.

Scoop one-third of the soybeans and soaking water into a blender, process on high for 2 minutes, and pour into a large mixing bowl. Repeat until all the beans have been processed. Bring 2¾ cups spring or well water to a boil over high heat in a medium well-insulated pot. Add the soybean mixture and bring almost to a boil, stirring constantly, to ensure it does not scorch.  This is important!

Remove from the heat source and let the foam subside for about 15 minutes. Heat again slowly over low heat for 10 minutes.

While the soybean mixture is heating, set a fine-mesh strainer over a large mixing bowl. Line the strainer with a clean muslin cheesecloth.  After 8 to 10 minutes have elapsed, pour the hot soybean mixture through the cheesecloth.

Twist up the free ends to squeeze out the excess liquid, but let it cool for about 10 or 15 minutes before squeezing the bundle to get the last drops of liquid out of the solids. In the bowl you will have fresh soy milk ready to use for drinking or making Soft Tofu.

In the cheesecloth, you will have okara (soybean pulp). Use okara immediately in many recipes or store in the fridge for up to 2 days. After that, freeze it.