After Guilin we headed to Yangshuo, home of my least favourite street in China, the horrifically tacky and touristy Xi Jie. I'll admit it does have one thing going for it as it's where I bought my pork belly keyring. Outside the touristy town though you're surrounded by rice paddies and the most beautiful karst limestone peaks dotting the landscape. With this in mind we made a move a few kilometres out of town to Chao Long village.
First evening there I was walking down the road and could've sworn I saw hundreds of sticks of beancurd skin hanging from beams on a roof top. It was dusk though and in the half light I couldn't be sure so made a note to return in the day time with my camera. I've wrote about beancurd skin before. I love the slightly leathery texture and like all tofu it takes on flavour well, if ever it is on the menu I'll make a beeline for it. Returning to the hostel I noticed Chao Long beancurd skin on the menu, which confirmed my suspicions and also elicited an order. Alas they were out of stock.
The next day, around lunchtime, I headed down with my camera and luckily caught them at work. The wife was inside, stirring away at a big vat of simmering soy milk, fired with wood from the pile outside. On the roof the husband hung strip after strip over wooden beams to be dried in the sun. It was a veritable cottage industry beancurd skin factory. Alongside the owners there was also one of the staff from my hostel present who'd popped down to grab some of the raw ingredients for the restaurant. Luckily she spoke English so I found out the buckets of the waste product, a white soy bean pulp, that lay around there were waiting to be used as feed for the pigs. As well as using her translation services I got in my order for lunch and headed back to the hostel with her. Ten minutes from factory to plate has to be a record.
The Chao Long Beancurd Skin turned out to be the skin along with red and green peppers (the green had chili heat in a bell pepper sized package) and tomatoes in a light sauce, finished with the spring onions that make a closing appearance in so many Chinese dishes. The beancurd was certainly better than the prepackaged stuff I've had. I've procured the recipe from the chef, albeit minus any weights or measures, so hopefully after a bit of experimenting I can post it up in the future. It's definitely worth a try.