Ginger Milk Pudding (薑汁撞奶) made with only two ingredients: fresh soy milk and ginger juice! This dairy-free version of ginger milk curd is delicately custardy, creamy and silky smooth– infused with a nourishing hint of ginger. Truly a magical healthy snack or dessert.
Friends!, I am SO excited to finally share this vegan ginger milk pudding recipe!! This was something my great grandma would often make for us when we visited her because of how ‘instant’, quick and easy it was. Plus, she always wanted to make sure we got enough ginger in our system since its considered a nourishing, healing and healthy ingredient in Chinese culture.
What is Ginger Milk Curd?
Ginger milk curd (also called ginger milk pudding / 薑汁撞奶) is a popular Southern Chinese dessert. It’s a super delicate, ginger-infused pudding that does not require any coagulants such as gelatin, eggs or agar. Instead, it is made by solidifying milk proteins with the enzymes in ginger! How cool is that?!
What does it taste like?
Although its called pudding, It’s ultra-soft, creamy, silky and almost melts in your mouth. It kind of reminds me of dofufa, but even more delicate and creamy. Flavour wise, its milky and has a lovely subtle sweet ginger aroma to it. It can be enjoyed warm or chilled and making it at home means you can control the sweetness of it. It truly makes for the perfect light and healthy dessert!
Making it vegan & dairy free: the experiment
I first tried to make this magical milk pudding a couple of months ago with store bought soy milk, with the same method as using regular milk: mixing fresh ginger juice with heated milk and letting it curdle on its own. I was really disappointed when it did not curdle at all. So next, I tried with homemade soy milk. I saw some curdling, but it was not at all a silky pudding. I tested a couple more rounds with adding vinegar, heating it to other different temperatures, changing the ratios but nothing quite worked or was even close to when you use dairy milk.
Since moving into my new place, I’ve been solely enjoying homemade soy milk and only really have one store bought carton (for mainly recipes testing) monthly. Making soy milk, you have to heat it over the stove. Sometimes you get a layer of tofu skin (yuba) because of the curdling process when soy milk is heated.
It then popped into my mind that perhaps the soy milk just needs a little more heat and help to make it into pudding?! I revisited my experiment with the ginger pudding and tested it over the stove at different temperatures and ratios again. Needless to say, it didn’t work and all I got was lots of yummy yuba.
At this point, I was about to throw in the towel and just accept soy milk does not work– but then I had one last idea pop into my mind (thanks to my mom that was making chawamushi (Japanese steamed egg custard)). I mixed the soy milk with ginger juice, popped it into the steamer and YES. IT STARTED TO SET! It wasn’t perfect yet so I adjusted the ratio of milk to ginger and finally landed on the fool-proof ratio. I can’t even begin to explain my excitement!
So how does this curdling process work with milk and ginger and why doesn’t it work with non-dairy milks?
In simple terms, it is the enzymes (which are catalysts) in ginger called zingipain (a protease) that is used to curdle milk because it has the ability to break down proteins– in the case for milk is casein. When heated to the correct temperature the enzymes start to ‘work’: it splits the casein making it unstable, the micelles bind together and the water is then pushed out, causing them to coagulate.
Although soy milk has a comparable amount of protein to dairy milk, it does not contain casein (which is what the enzymes in ginger break down).
So why does soy milk set when steaming?
There are two factors that curdle soy milk: acidity and heat. Acidity is what gets the curdling process going while the heat accelerates the coagulation process. Because the enzymes in ginger already begin the coagulating process, I didn’t notice a difference when adding in an acid (lemon juice). However, the heat is what really helps it set and become pudding like!
I hope this brief explanation gives you a better understanding as to how this whole process of making pudding out of ginger works .
How to Make it with Soy Milk
Traditionally, it’s made by simply mixing heated milk at a certain temperature and ginger juice together. Even when using milk, many people have a difficult time getting the right consistency the first coupe of times because the ginger is so heat sensitive.
However, with the soy milk– I’ve found it much easier with a higher success rate because you do not need to pay too much attention to the temperature of the heat!
First, heat your freshly made soy milk over the stove over medium heat. Be sure to continuously whisk so that yuba does not form on the surface. If you do find some tofu skin on the surface, simply scrape it off with some chopsticks or spoon (you can eat it!). NOTE: If your soy milk is not already sweetened, add 1-2 tablespoon of sugar and dissolve in the heated soy milk.
Now would be a good time to set up your steamer apparatus. I used a bamboo steamer but any steamer will work for this. Peel your ginger and then grate it. Squeeze the juice out of the ginger and measure out at least one tablespoon (15ml) per ¾ cup (180ml).
Pour the ginger juice into a bowl and then immediately pour the heated soy milk. I like to carefully pour from a higher range to ensure the ginger gets mixed well with the soy milk.
Place the bowl in the steamer and steam for 12 minutes on high heat. Remove the steamer from the heat, open the steamer lid and let it sit for about 5 minutes or until cool enough for you to handle the bowl.
Enjoy straight away or you can let it come to room temperature and chill it in the fridge! If you refrigerate it, the pudding sets a bit more (but still very silky and smooth). I recommend trying it both warm and cool
Tips & Afterthoughts
A pound of soy beans later, here are some tips to ensure recipe success!
- Use homemade creamy soy milk: I recommend using my homemade soy milk recipe for the best creamy results. I have tried Asian brands and American brands of soy milk, it does NOT work for this. This may be because of the ingredients and preservatives added to soy milk.
- Use old, fresh ginger juice: Old ginger is fibrous, tan in colour on the outside and has a higher percentage of protease which is what breaks down the proteins. Young ginger is smoother, often smaller with green stems.Use ginger juice as soon as it’s squeezed out. If it sits for too long, the enzymes get weaker and it will not ‘set’ the pudding even after steaming.
- Stir the ginger. Since ginger are tubers, if they sit the starch will settle on the bottom
- Pour from high up: Because you don’t want to stir it after combining the ginger juice and soy milk, pouring from a higher range will naturally ‘mix’ it together.
- Let it sit: After steaming, let it sit for at least 5 minutes to let it set further and cool.
SAVE IT FOR LATER! ↓
More delicious Asian-inspired vegan desserts to try:
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