I only really enjoy soya milk when it’s absolutely fresh. A fond memory of mine is one of our family trips to the West End, which seems terribly cosmopolitan when you’ve spent most of your life in Croydonian Zone 5. It felt an absolute treat for my younger self to eat out in Chinatown, where one dinnertime my parents noticed a waiter bringing out a pitcher of soya milk from behind the bar. We were told the soya milk was freshly made and were obligingly poured a glass each of it, really rich and flavourful.
My favourite soya milk, though, the one which tops that memory, is the way my mother makes it. My mother pays great attention to detail and is stellar at making drinks; her soya milk is especially fragrant and with very little of that raw bitterness that comes with the beans. Luckily, when I asked her how she made soya milk she was very glad to share her directions. You don’t need any special equipment other than a blender or food processor to grind the beans, and perhaps some muslin or cheesecloth would make your life a little easier when filtering the milk.
You can have soya milk chilled or as a hot drink, on its own or with a snack–a classic pairing is with fried dough sticks. It’s refreshing and warming for these early autumn days, when the mornings are beginning to be very cool with the afternoons still scorching.
Now that it’s freshly September, that Back To School Feeling still comes on quite strongly; I suppose that’s inevitable when one has spent most of one’s life thus far as part of that entire system. The 11 year old girl I look after very recently started secondary school, all nervous about new beginnings. Isn’t that how it goes? Shouldering other people in WHSmith to get those new-smelling pencil cases and smart pens to go in them, looking forward to larking about with your friends and planning how to avoid those you didn’t like if you could help it, wondering which teachers would be your allies and which would be tolerated, vacillating between dread and anticipation for what you’d have to go through in order to finish the year.
It seems a little silly to force myself to have a new beginning–yet another one, after the new year–but it’s comforting to have extra structure in one’s life and take stock of what has been achieved so far. Speaking of which, I have managed to keep this blog going for one entire year! Hurray. Usually after 4 or 5 years of continuous activity, I notice bloggers start getting book deals and such, so I’d better hang in there…
I also made a tiny step towards fiction writing, eased into my role as Culture Editor at MouthLondon, and got a new haircut. I’ve also tried cleaning up the blog a bit. My photography continues to improve–I’ve added new links to especially prettyful blogs which have recently inspired me.
The future seems less daunting now, but it’s still going to be hard work, and some soya milk can only help to bolster my fortitude.
P.S. The remaining soya bean solids, okara, can be re-used – see here for recipes.
Makes about 1 litre soya milk.
Keeps for 1 – 2 days refrigerated.
Leave out the pandan leaves out or add another flavouring, if you like. I like mine sweetened with honey but you can add any sweetener you like to it, or, indeed, none. Scale up and play around with proportions as you like: the general ratio is 10 parts water to 1 part beans by weight.
- 125g dried soya beans, soaked overnight in cold water.
- About 25g fresh or frozen pandan leaves (I used around 6 – 8 x 15 cm/6 inch long leaves)
- 1.125 litre cold water
- Pinch of salt
- Honey (or other sweetener) to taste (I use about 2 lightly bulging dessertspoons)
Put the soaked soya beans, all the pandan leaves into a blender (or contraption of choice). Pour in enough of the water just to cover and blend until the beans are finely ground.
Transfer the ground mixture into a large saucepan and pour in the remaining water. Scoop off the thick foam on top (you won’t waste much liquid at all, so scoop away) and bring to simmer over a medium-high heat, lowering the heat if needed to just keep the liquid moving under the surface. Stir now and then to make sure the mixture doesn’t catch on the bottom. Simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes, until the milk loses the raw bitter flavour and the liquid is as rich as you like. Simmer for longer if you want a richer milk (but keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t boil dry, obviously.)
When the mixture is ready, take off the heat. Line a sieve or colander with muslin or clean paper towels and set this over a container large and sturdy enough to hold the hot milk. Strain the soya milk out, pressing on the soya bean solids (okara) or, if using cloth, gathering up and twisting the bundle to extract as much liquid as possible. (Reserve okara for another use, or discard.)
Add a pinch of salt and as much honey as you like to the finished soya milk, stirring well to dissolve. Serve warm or chilled.