Across the Board Food

A “Sweet” Trip Down Memory Lane

When we’re living away from home, those moments of longing and nostalgia are unavoidable, but we can bring back those feelings of home and familiarity through the comfort of foods. As a child, I often took comfort in the soy bean pudding we bought from the street vendor in Flushing and the fried golden buns. 

As a college student, I don’t have much cooking experiences, but I did my best to recreate my childhood favorites and would like to share some of the recipes for those with minimal experiences, just like myself.

Sweetened Doufu Hua (Soy Bean Pudding)

In a little stall tucked in with the numerous eateries along Roosevelt Avenue, Flushing, a little sliding window brings to view a small-framed elderly woman, or more warmly referred to as 娜娜 (Na Na) or grandma. She scoops spoonfuls of 豆腐花 (Doufu Hua), or soy bean pudding, from a hefty wooden container that seemed double her size, adding either a salty base of soy sauce or a sweeter base of honey. Not surprisingly, the honey base finds itself as a more popular option among children; and even as an adult, honey has remained my preferred choice. Wanting the same warming memory of a simple delicacy, I set out to recreate it, taking the college student-friendly route by using as few ingredients and steps as possible.

For this recipe, the following ingredients will be needed:

  • 2 cups of vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup of water
  • ½ tablespoon of Agar-agar powder (Kalustyan’s on Lexington Avenue has it in stock)
  • 1 tsp of Vanilla extract
  • Serve with honey


1. In a pot, heat soy milk on low setting. Stir frequently to prevent milk from burning.

2. Add vanilla extract to the milk.

3. Boil ¼ cup of water and stir in the agar-agar powder until it dissolves.

4. Pour agar-agar water mixture into the pot of milk.

5. Turn off the heat when the mixture boils

6. Pour mixture into a container or bowl, and let it cool down a little.

7. Place the container or bowl in the refrigerator to set for 2 hours.

8. Add honey and enjoy!

Fried Mantou with Condensed Milk

How or when I was first introduced to this crispy dessert has long faded from my memory, but what I do remember is the mouth-watering sensation that overtook me and how my hands were eagerly awaiting to grab one. 

For this recipe, the following ingredients will be needed:

  • Mantou (however many as desired)
  • Vegetable oil
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk (for drizzling or dipping)


1. In a pan, heat up oil (~0.5 inch high) for about 5 minutes.

2. Add the buns and fry until a golden brown color.

3. Flip bun to fry both sides evenly.

4. Once fried, place buns on a sheet of towel to rid of excess oil.

5. Serve with condensed milk either drizzled atop or as a dipping sauce!

Note: You can use a pot to fry instead. However, I found that the heated oil splashed out frequently.

If you’re looking for a midnight snack, these are quick and easy fixes, and hopefully, as you read this article, you might’ve been inspired to recreate your own childhood comfort food!

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