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"I keep serving the best Douhua and helping people in need"

Updated: 2022-02-16

By Guo Shuyu,

A person enjoys a bowl of Douhua. [Photo/iChongqing]

Wang Tao holds a ladle steadily, just above a bowl of freshly boiled soybean milk. He tilts the ladle slightly and circles it around to let the liquid slide into the soybean gradually and evenly.

A bowl of clean white and soft Douhua will be ready in mere minutes.

Wang works at a restaurant in an area popular among foodies in Chongqing's Liangjiang New Area. The restaurant is owned by his uncle, Yang Shoubin, who is known locally for creating Shui Shang Piao, or "Douhua that floats".

Douhua uses the same recipe as tofu but forms a different texture. It has long been popular in China. Different regions have their own Douhua cuisine, as people throughout the nation enrich and localize the recipe.

In Southwest China, the signature Douhua Rice is perhaps the most popular dish for people in need of a quick and economical dish.

Douhua Rice is served in a set – a bowl of Douhua, a bowl of rice, and dipping sauce. The Douhua is tender and chewy and the rice tastes better when steamed in a wooden cooker called Zengzi as people have traditionally done. As for dipping sauce, some restaurants have their own secret sauce, while others offer as many as a dozen sauces.

Staff prepare Yang's secret dipping sauce. [Photo/iChongqing]

Yang, who has been making Douhua since 1987, said the ingredients are simple: soybeans, water, and brine are all you need.

"It's not easy to make it tender and chewy at the same time. Most Douhua is either too soft for chopsticks or too tough for people's tongues. I wanted to make it easier to be picked up and tastier at the same time," Yang said.

He spent six years working on the recipe before finally making his own Douhua. The secret lies in the type of beans and the proportion of brine, Yang said. When he made the Douhua his own way, he soon noticed the difference.

"Normally, Douhua has a firm texture and tends to sink in the soup, while mine looks loose and thin and floats. That surprised me, and is where the Douhua's name comes from," Yang said.

 With Shui Shang Piao becoming popular, Yang expanded his business and passed on his secret recipe to his niece, who is now skilled at making the dish and assists him in running the family restaurant.

"I started in a shack years ago and earned what I have now through hard work and assistance from local authorities. Staff at my restaurant were once unemployed people in my community. I am running the premises not only to serve customers the best Douhua but also to help people in need as much as I can. This is how I give back to society," Yang said.

 At 10 am, Wang started getting busy, making Shui Shang Piao and preparing for lunchtime. Yang will make sure everything is in order before the restaurants becomes packed with diners.

 "Flocks of people come to my restaurant every day. Some of them come from afar. I always feel grateful when they come and enjoy the food we serve," Yang said.



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