Sweet Soy Pudding (Tou Foo Fa)

Tou Foo Fa or Douhua (in Mandarin), is a soft and tofu dessert. Tou Foo Fa is made by coagulating soy milk into curds. Tou Foo Fa is usually served warm in sweet syrup but many people also like it chilled.

When I grew up in Malaysia, it was a very common hawker food where the vendors walk from house to house screaming “Tou — Fooo — Faaa — Tou — Jeong — Sui”. We look forward to this which they usual come around in the afternoon. These days no one sells it this way anymore. It was quite common that this pudding is made in a big wooden barrel.

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In Canada, you may find Tou Foo Fa only in specialty tofu stores. However, the more common soy milk can be found in many groceries stores like Safeway, the Superstore, and Save-On-Food. I learned how to make Tou Foo Fa from soymilk from a friend in a home bible study group and have since made Tou Foo Fa for the family. Arkensen is a great fan of Tou Foo Fa. He enjoys it cold.

The biggest challenge in making Tou Foo Fa is that almost all steps must be followed correctly or else it would turn out too watery. Tou Foo Fa is supposed to be soft and smooth like puddings.

Ingredients
  • 1 litre of sweetened soy milk
  • 1.5 teaspoons of gypsum powder (熟石膏粉)
  • 1.5 teaspoons of cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon of hot water

The above ingredients is sufficient to make servings for four.

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Instructions

IMG_3788_edited-1There are two types of soy milk — the normal unsweetened ones and ones that are sweetened. I prefer the sweetened ones. You need to first boil 1 litre of sweetened soy milk. To this, I use a claypot instead of the normal metal cooking pot. Soy milk burns easily and using claypot will help regulate the heat better and prevent burning.
IMG_3793_edited-1Gypsum powder is what coagulate the soy milk into pudding. You can buy them from chinese grocery stores. I measure 1.5 teaspoon of gypsum powder into a small bowl, where I use to mix other ingredients too.

You need to then dissolve the gypsum powder. You need to dissolve it in HOT water … just a tablespoon will do. Stir until the gypsum powder is fully dissolved.

Once dissolved, this will look very “pasty” and thick.

IMG_3796_edited-1Then I add 1.5 teaspoon of cornstarch into the gypsum paste.

The paste has to be mixed well. Take your time and mix it really well. Cornstarch is generally used as a thickening agent.

IMG_3801_edited-1Don’t be surprised that this is not a lot of paste but it is sufficient to make full dish of Tou Foo Fa. I then poured the paste into the middle of the dish which I’m going to use to coagulate the soy milk.
IMG_3805_edited-1The soy milk has to come to a rolling boil before it can be mixed with the gypsum paste. Make sure that you remove the soy milk from the stove once you see the boling starts. Otherwise, you will end up leaving a burning taste on your Tou Foo Fa.

You should pour the boiling soy milk vigorously into the prepared dish — don’t pour in slowly. This is to ensure that the the paste is mixed well with the soy milk.

IMG_3806_edited-1To ensure that the paste is well mixed, I gave it a QUICK stir — like a swirl or two, not more. You then need to set the dish aside to coagulate. Do not move or touch the dish once the coagulating process started, otherwise the pudding will not form into a firm, soft and smooth pudding.
IMG_3812_edited-1After an hour when the pudding is firmed up and cooled, it’s ready to be served. If you like it chilled, you may leave it in the refrigerator overnight. Scoop the pudding into a bowl gently with a shallow spoon so that the pudding is not mashed up.

You may add a tablespoon or two of syrup to the pudding to add a touch of sweetness. Making the syrup is very simple. I’ll do a quick blog on making the syrup in the next posting.

Making this takes a lot of trial and error. I tried it many, many times unsuccessfully but I think I have figured out how to make it consistently well. Don’t give up — it’s very simple and quick to make. It’s also a healthy dessert.

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  1. Hah! We in Malaysia don’t have to make our own Tou Foo Fa. We have loads of it here 😀

  2. You seem to have a lot of recipes on Chinese dishes.

    Canadian Chinese?

  3. Thank goodness all I have to do is go to the morning market to get my bowl of Tau Foo Fah. Hahaha. Nice blog. Makes my mouth water.

  4. Hi there, thanks for visiting my blog 🙂 I love your blog btw. Especially the details (ingredients and pic on each step). I’ll put you on my foodblog list for sure. Cheers!

  5. Hi Jen:
    We were originally Malaysians, Malaysian Chinese. But we are now Canadians. We still crave Malaysian food! 🙂

  6. Wow, facinating stuff! Surfed in from BE and I love tauhay too, the chilled one 🙂 Absolutely heavenly 🙂

  7. Hi Ben,

    We have a similar food in the Philippines. It’s actually eaten as a “merienda” and we call it “taho”. It’s basically made of tofu. Not sure how it’s made, maybe a similar process as yours. And we also eat it with the sweet syrup we call “arnibal”. It’s also being peddled in the steets usually in the afternoon. As a kid, I wait in anticipation to hear someone shout “tahoooooo” which means it’s merienda time.

  8. Hi Sally:
    I bought gypsum powder in the chinese grocery store. If you click on the picture of the ingredients, you’ll be able to see a bigger picture of the packaging. Let me know if you need jelp.
    Suanne

  9. Hi, I am a Chinese Singaporean living in Calgary and miss Tou Foo Fa very much!! I was so excited to see this recipe I went to the Chinese supermarket to buy the ingredients but couldn’t find ‘gypsum powder’. I should be able to find it on the same shelves as the flours and baking powder right? Is there an alternative if I can’t find gypsum powder?

  10. Hi Annette,

    I bought mine from a Chinese grocery store which also has a section for Chinese herbs. Perhaps you can go to a Chinese herbal store (“york choy poe”) to look for the gypsum powder.

  11. Hi Suanne,
    I finally bought the gypsum powder. I will try to make this tonight! I am also following your instructions for the syrup but maybe I will add some pandan leaves as well… we’ll see how it turns out.

  12. Hi Annette:
    That’s great. Can’t wait to hear how your pudding turns out. Hmmm … I would like to hear of how you use the pandan leaves. Let me know, OK?
    Suanne

  13. yum yum! it turned out very well! smooth n soft like the real thing. only thing was at the end where the paste was, there were bits of paste-lumps. will try again and see if i can do a better job of pouring the soya milk in. also we have become more ambitious and will try to make soy milk from scratch, and then make tou foo fa with that! thanks so much for your post! finally i can have tou foo fa again.

  14. Hi Annette:
    Glad yours turned out OK. I find that the way around avoiding getting paste-lumps is to pour the soya milk vigorously and give a good swirl immediately. I have never made soya milk before, let me know if you have a recipe. I would like to try to make that too myself!
    Suanne

  15. can i know how wat’s the name for gypsum powder in cantonese or mandarin

  16. hi Steve, gypsum powder in cantonese is ‘sook sek ko fun’. If you click on the photo to look at the enlarge version, you might be able to read the Chinese name on the package.

  17. Thx. Susan. I live in Toronto. I’ll try your recipe for fun though it’s easy to buy here.

  18. Thx for the lovely tips..will try making it but why some tau foo fa i tried at some stall is not smooth..The texture very rough..how to make sure when i make is smooth?which step should i be cautious?

  19. Hi Wartevar,

    I think if you can just pour the boiling soy milk vigorously enough to ensure it mixes well with the gypsum powder/constarch mixture without further stirring it, it will form a smooth and soft soy pudding.

  20. Hi Suanne, i was wondering if you happen to know how to make bean curd from Tou Foo Fah? Thanks. I love your blog, by the way.

  21. I try to made this yesterday and i failed ;( i am
    planning to try again sometime this week. I wonder should i make the gypsum mixture right before i pour the hot soymilk in it? I mix the powder and cornstarch before my soymilk is boiling so the mixture was sitting on the bowl a while before i pour it to hot milk in and by the time i pour the milk, the mix get hard.

    by the way.. i love your blog and all the recipes you posted. Your blog has inspired me to start my own blog… now sure if i can spare out additional time to do..

  22. Hi Sharon, I usually prepare the gypsum mix in a small bowl first and just before the I pour the hot soy milk into the big bowl, I put the gypsum mix into the big bowl. Also, I have to emphasize that when your pour the hot soy milk, it has to be vigorous enough so that it will mix well with the gypsum mix. Sometimes I give it a “quick” stir to make sure it mixes well.

  23. Suanne,

    I tried again yesterday. this time i make sure my soymilk is boiling and i mixed the powder right before i pour the hot milk into the bowl. This time is much better but still not hard enough for me to scoop. It is like cereal consistency. Don’t know where i did wrong. I wonder if my gypsum powder is too old!
    When you said a quick stir, do you really mean just a couple stir? i pour the milk in and stir it to make sure the powder mixture mixed well with the milk, so i am not sure that’s the reason, i mess up the whole thing 🙁

  24. Hi Sharon, dont be discouraged. When I first attempted to make it, I failed a few times. Sometimes, it came out only half of the pudding is solid. Ok, forget about the ‘Quick’ stir. Try to pour the hot soy milk at least 2 feet away from the bowl (you might need a deeper bowl to avoid spillage). No more disturbance and let it coagulate. Good luck.

  25. Suanne,
    Thank you for you advice. I will try again later!

  26. hai there…
    i am malay…live in Qatar…i love tou foo fa…i already have the ‘sek ko’ powder…n i tried to make tou foo fa once…i got the recipe from a recipe book…but i failed…just found ur blog…will try to make it using ur recipe n steps tomorrow…wish me luck!!!

  27. suanne can you tell me where you got the gypsum powder? i could not find it any where.

  28. Hi Suanne,

    I got the gypsum powder, but I was wondering: Can I use any kind of (brand) soy milk? I tried to look for the one you used (in jerrycan), but they didn’t have it. Can I use soymilk from the local Dutch supermarket?

    Are there other recipes that you know of that needs gypsum powder?

    Thank You!

  29. Hi Dave, I bought the Gysum powder from Great One Supermarket on Park Rd. I believe there is a branch on Kingsway called Great Two Supermarket. You can also try stores which sell Chinese medicine and herbs.

  30. Hi Crystal, you can use any brand of soy milk. I do not know any other recipe that uses gypsum powder yet. If I find any, I’ll post it on chowtimes.

  31. Hi Suanne, I tried ur recipe. But again,I failed. When I mix the powder with hot water,it didn’t turn into paste n not even thick. So,I put some more powder n flour to make it pasty n thick as u said. After complete every steps, I try it. The taste is so bad. Taste like sour plum. Why was it like that? Where did I do wrong? Is it because of I put too much powder n cornflour in it? Help me,please. Thank you.

  32. HI Munie, the original recipe actually calls for 1 teaspoon of gypsum powder, 1 teaspoon of cornstarch and 1 litre of soy milk, very easy to remember. I find sometimes it does not coagulate well, so I changed the recipe to 1.5 teaspoons of gypsum powder and cornstarch and it works well for me. It is ok that the mixture is runny, do not add extras as it will make it taste bad. The most important step is the pouring of the boiling soy milk into the container with the gypsum powder and cornstarch. The pouring must be vigorous enough to ensure it mixes well. So, place the container in the sink and pour from a height like from 2 feet to create the effect. Good luck.

  33. Thanx Suanne. Will try again later.

  34. It’s not VERY healthy. Especially since the syrup is ‘nothing’ but sugar. Figuratively speaking. And there’s nt much nutritional value to speak of. w/O the syrup, it’s not baddd either I guess. XD

  35. hi, i tried making it today but it turned out rather rough and not smooth except for the area near the bottom i was wondering if it was because i poured it too vigorously into the bowl with the coagulant in or was it because the soy milk i made was too concentrated so would you use a more thicker or normal soy milk for this and if its not really smooth at all is it because iv added too much coagulant or not enough? thanks

  36. Hi Alan, I used regular soy milk and I’m not sure of the effect of thicker ones. But I think you can try to reduce the coagulant as the original recipe actually calls for 1 teaspoon only. It just that after few tries, I find that 1 1/2 teaspoons works for me.

  37. Hi Suanne,

    Can you use any kind of soy milk? By this, I mean do you use the soy milk sold in English supermarkets – those which are thicker (eg. So Good) or those in Chinese supermarkets (which are usually sweetened or unsweetened) and does it matter if it is sweetened or flavoured?

  38. Hi Karen, I use the sweetened soy milk from Chinese supermarkets (which is commonly found in many other grocery stores nowadays). You can use the unsweetened one as you’ll be adding sweetener when you eat the Tou Foo Fa. I use the sweetened one because I like to drink the soy milk too.

  39. Suzanne,

    What is the original recipe? Does it call for sweetened or unsweetened soy milk? What is the source of the original recipe?

  40. Hi Spire, the original soy pudding should be made from unsweetened soy milk bacause the soy pudding will be served with syrup. But I prefer the sweetened one and use less syrup.

  41. Hi everyone, I’m a M’sian living in Brisbane and have recently been making taufu fa for all my friends. The recipe I use calls for 1 litre of soy milk, 1 tsp ‘sek ko fun’/gypsum and 1 Tbsp cornstarch. Instead of mixing the flours with hot water, I mix them well with 1/2 cup of the soy milk taken from the 1 litre b4 it is put to boil.(Yes, I use the cold soy milk). Just as the soy milk boils, I give the 1/2 cup a good stir again, then quickly pour it into the setting container, followed quickly by flushing down the boiling liquid. Cover it immediately with a clean towel (to keep the heat in and also to prevent water condensation dripping back into the container). Then cover with a lid. No more disturbing until it sets. It turns out very light- textured and can be eaten witin 15 minutes. Hope this helps.

  42. Hi Suanne,

    Just came across your website. Cant wait to try the recipe. 🙂

  43. Hi suanne,
    I surf the internet and found yr blog page on tou foo fa and today i’ll try to make it follow yr steps/way, i will update you about the progress. by the way i am a malay stay in taman keramat, kl and a local kl boy. thanks for the receip.

  44. how long with the tauhuay keep for?

  45. Hi Kelly, I usually finished what I made on the same day or next day the most as I only made it in 1 litre batch.

  46. I. LOVE. TOFU FA.

    My mom uses a recipe & technique very similar to yours. But she prefers an unsweetened soy milk that she gets from a tofu shop in Aberdeen Centre.
    Comes out great every time 🙂

    For something different, try tofu fa with black sesame pudding rather than the ginger syrup – delicious!! 🙂

  47. Hi, Kelly I would like to know are you the recipe owner of this cheesecake book(i.e. Taste of Cold, Sweet Temptations).

    If you are I have problem in getting the abovemention book.

    Looking forward for your reply.

    Thanks.

  48. hi all,

    i went to a chinese grocery today and found gypsum powder. is it safe to eat too much gypsum powder? anything else that i can use to replace this powder to make tou foo fa?

    let me know. thx….

  49. Hi Suanne,
    Gong Xi Fa Cai to you and your family! After much searching I finally got my hands on some gypsum and tried this recipe. It was so good. This is the 5th recipe I’ve tried from your site and they’ve all been great hits at home. Thank you so much for sharing the recipes and the tips. They’ve really helped a beginner like me. 🙂

  50. im gonna try to make the plain version of this tofu pudding soonest. i used to eat them as breakfast with sweet ginger syrup. thanks for the recipe.

  51. Dear Suanne, am really looking forward to giving this recipe a try 🙂 had no idea that this could be done with soymilk!

  52. Dear Suanne, I just emailed Ben before realizing you can post comments on this thing! I came upon your site while trying to find some “tong sui” recipes similiar to what my dad made when I was living at home in San Jose, CA – consisting of yams, rock sugar and ginger. Anyway, I saw this recipe and just have to try it! I’ve always ordered it when eating dim sum at chinese restaurants back in the day. I’ve since moved to Richmond, VA and the chinese cuisine is scarce. Anyway, hopefully I can find gypsum powder at the best stocked asian grocery around here (which isn’t saying much) but my real question… I couldn’t find your recipe for the syrup? Could you please email this to me? Keep up the good work!

  53. where do u get powdered gypsum from or whats a good substitute

    1. Hi seygra20, I bought powdered gypsum from Chinese groceries store, especially those which also carries Chinese herbs. I do not know what can be substituted for this recipe. The closest is gelatin but the texture will be different, i.e. more like jello.

      1. thanks bt i found out that the gypsum also called calcium sulfate bt havent tried it as yet

  54. Hello? Need your opinion. I tried the tou-foo fa recipe. The only thing I did differently was I “boiled” the gypsum paste in the microwave oven for 10 minutes, because the instruction on the package warned that the gypsum had to be heated past boiling for 10 minutes. The result was the soy milk coagulated,but not into a smooth mass; looked more like “curdled” milk. Does the gypsum have to be heated as the manufacturer warns?

    1. Hi Cristina, I did not heat the gypsum solution as I’m using just 1 teaspoon of it. I dissolved it in 1 tablespoon of hot water and let cool before I added the cornstarch. It’s too little liquid to heat it past boiling for 10 minutes.

  55. hi, i just wanna ask if where did you buy your gypsum powder? thanks

    1. Hi Karen, I got mine from Great One Supermarket on Park Road in Richmond. You can check with any Chinese Herbal Store which I think will carry it. The Chinese name of gypsum powder is 熟石膏粉.

  56. hi,i live in spain and cant find gypsum powder, so i made my tou foo fa with nigari and it turns out so bad its like spoiled milk.please help me how to use the nigari, or where can i find gypsum powder here…thanks

    1. Hi isa, from the write up in Wikipedia on tofu, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tofu, it seems like both gypsum powder and nigari are used as coagulant to make tofu. But, I do not have experience using nigari. I’m sorry that I do not know of a place where you can get gypsum powder in Spain.

      1. HI SUANNE,
        THANKS FOR THE REPLY. I WILL TRY AGAIN TO FIND SOME GYPSUM POWDER.THANKS AND MORE POWER

  57. WOW, that sounds good! I’m so excited about trying it. I have been lactsoe intolerant for 20 years and really miss eating pudding, ice cream, cheese, just milk products period. I drink Silk soy milk and will have to find the gypsum maybe at my local earth store. You’ll be hearing from me again!

  58. Great recipe! I use agar agar powder, approximately 3/4 teaspoon with one litre of soy milk. I also add 2 tablespoons of vanilla essence and a bit of sugar. You do need to simmer the milk with the a.a. powder for at least 10 – 15 minutes for it to work.

  59. have you tried making the salty version like the ones they have in taiwan?

  60. We live in a tiny town in rural Australia, used to have this sweet bean curd in Sydney at Dim Sum. So excited to have a recipe and can’t wait to try it. Cheers!

    1. Why is it that my pudding turned grainy and not smooth? Should I not mix it whole cooking? Or was it because i kept it simmering after boiling?

      1. Once it come to a rolling boil, you should pour it immediately into the gypsum mixture and just a quick stir and leave it alone.

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