In Songxi village, a historical mountain village in Pujiang county of Zhejiang province, there hides a refreshing summer dessert named Guanyin tofu, or leaf bean curd.
Guanyin tofu made by Xu Baozhu, a Songxi villager. [Photo by Qin Jun/chinadaily.com.cn]
Bean curd made from leaves? As strange as it may sound, it is in fact real! The magical leaves used to make this dessert, grow in the mountainous areas of southern China, and come from a woody plant - named Japanese Premna Herb, or Premna microphylla – which is also often used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Just a small leaf of the plant contains 18 kinds of amino acids, Vitamin C, β-carotene, as well as various mineral elements, making the dessert not only tasty but healthy too!
But how can leaves be turned into bean curd? Foreign participants of the 7th Jinhua Homestay Project in the village were also full of doubt, so they followed local villager Xu Keren to pick leaves on the mountain, and observed how his wife, Xu Baozhu, made the bean curd.
Xu Keren picks the leaves of Premna herbs in the mountainous area behind his house. [Photo by Qin Jun/chinadaily.com.cn]
Even though it may seem surprising, the steps required to prepare the leaves to make the bean curd are actually quite simple. Firstly, soak the freshly picked leaves in hot water at about 80 degrees Celsius, then knead the leaves over and over again to squeeze out its juice. Next, filter out the water in order to remove some of its impurities.
Just this process seems to inject life into the leaves. The pectin, accounting for more than 30 percent of the leaf's juice, is actually a natural coagulant stabilizer as well as the essence of Guanyin tofu.