THE GOCHISO GOURMET: Not your mother’s milk

columnist-logo_ryantatsumoto_FINALMost of us started life with our mother’s milk as our first form of sustenance. Then at some point, we started infringing on the sustenance of calves, namely cow’s milk. From there, we either continued on some form of the same, whether it was full fat, reduced fat or skim or totally eliminated it from our diet, either due to lactose intolerance or because we simply preferred a more animal-friendly diet without any added animal products, meaning either almond milk or soy milk.

Almond Milk
Produced from blanched almonds to maintain the creamy white appearance, almond milk surpassed soy milk as the most popular vegetarian milk in the United States about five years ago. A cup of almond milk only contains about half the calories of soy milk (which has about half the calories as cow’s milk) mainly due to a lower protein and carbohydrate content compared to soy milk. I’ll admit that I have never sampled almond milk, as I almost never consume traditional breakfast cereals in the morning. Since I’m a bit lactose intolerant, I might have switched to either soy milk or almond milk, but since my breakfast cereal consumption is nil, I only use cow, soy or almond milk for cooking purposes.
I do consume almonds in their original state quite frequently, whether it’s the smoked or wasabi soy canned variety, sliced and toasted in the perfect zucchini carpaccio or ground in the perfect Romesco sauce, but never in the liquid state.

Soy Milk
Created by soaking and grinding soybeans, then boiling the resulting liquid and filtering any remaining solids, soy milk won’t give the same reaction to those who are lactose intolerant. However, since it originates from a bean, you can still experience certain gastrointestinal symptoms that occur when you consume a lot of beans due to similar oligosaccharides — which only get digested by your resident bacterial flora in your lower intestine — yes, those same musical side effects. That’s probably why almond milk’s popularity has surpassed soy milk.
But then again, it’s not like we’ve been pouring all that soy milk down the drain, as soy milk’s primary application is after a coagulant is added to the liquid to create that luscious “soy cheese” or tofu. However, since it brings the same creamy richness and protein as its bovine cousin, it often can be used interchangeably in many cooking applications. And because there also are chocolate flavored versions of liquid soy, you can give your muffins an extra burst of flavor …

Soy Milk Cherry Pancakes. photo by Ryan Tatsumoto

Mocha, Banana and Soy Milk Muffins
1/2 block margarine or shortening
1 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 large banana, smashed
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 & 1/4 cups chocolate flavored soy milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper muffin cases.

In a large bowl cream together margarine and sugar. Beat in egg. Add banana and blend until it is completely mixed. In a separate bowl mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients then stir in soy milk then spoon into muffin tray. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean.

Or you can stick with the standard version of soy milk but kick up the flavor of your pancakes with both almond extract and Amaretto infused dried sour cherries …

Soy Milk Cherry Pancakes. photo by Ryan Tatsumoto

Soy Milk Cherry Pancakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup vanilla soy milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

About 1/4 cup dried sour cherries soaked in Amaretto for 30 minutes then roughly chopped.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, mix the vanilla soy milk, egg, oil, vanilla extract and almond extract. Pour the soy milk mixture into the bowl with the flour mixture, and whisk together until smooth.

Grease a skillet, and heat over medium heat. Pour about one-fourth of a cup of batter onto the heated skillet, and cook until bubbly. Flip with a spatula, and continue cooking about two minutes, until golden brown. Repeat with the remaining batter.

Or you could simply attend the eighth annual Northern California Soy and Tofu Festival at the Event Center at St Mary’s Cathedral on Saturday, June 30 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. As usual, there will be soy and tofu vendors, the Soy and Tofu Dessert competition, food trucks, raffle prizes and live performances. And again the main benefactor is the Nichi Bei Foundation to support the publication of the Nichi Bei Weekly. And for the first time, yours truly will be making the 2,500-mile journey from the 50th to do a cooking demonstration on the joy of soy along with judging the Soy and Tofu Dessert competition. So if you’d like to see the Nichi Bei Weekly continue well into the future or simply would like to meet a columnist who loves his food and wine and want to wala’au (talk), please attend this year’s Soy and Tofu Festival!

The Gochiso Gourmet is a column on food, wine and healthy eating. Ryan Tatsumoto is a graduate of both the University of Hawai‘i and UC San Francisco. He is a clinical pharmacist during the day and a budding chef/recipe developer/wine taster at night. He writes from Kane‘ohe, HI and can be reached at gochisogourmet@yahoo.com.

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