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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Behind the Scenes: House Foods America Corporation - Garden Grove

Behind the Scenes - House Foods America Corporation - Garden Grove 1

I've long-known of House Foods as the purveyor of tofu and instant mixes like Japanese curry and Chinese Mabo Tofu Sauce, but I had no idea that its House Foods America Corporation was based in Garden Grove. House Foods Corporation started in Osaka, Japan in 1913. Its first American branch, to mainly sell curry mixes, opened in Los Angeles in 1981; the tofu manufacturing facility opened a few years later.

The tofu-manufacturing branch in Garden Grove opened in 1997. It takes 20 minutes to make a block of tofu here; and 55 million pieces of tofu are made a year! The soybeans used to make the tofu are grown in North America and are not genetically modified.

House Foods America Corporation has three parts: making and selling tofu and tofu-related products, importing House Foods' products, and managing the chain of Curry House restaurants.

House Foods America Corporation recently installed a $1.65 million 213kW photovoltaic solar electric system, which will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 527,861 pounds per year, or the equivalent of planting 6,139 trees. I was invited to tour the facility by Milena Perez Schmidt and Vladimir Lapin of Dentsu Communications.
And while solar power is good and all, you know I really just wanted to check out how they made the tofu!

A display in the lobby of some of House Foods' products.

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It was kind of a media circus.

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A few Garden Grove city council members standing by the sign.

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Interviews with the people who installed the solar panels?

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Lots of Japanese dignitaries and media.

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And me.

Ha!

Trays of fruit and cheeses while we waited.

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A brief presentation on House Foods' environmental commitment.

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Explanation of the solar panels.

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So-Yah! shirataki noodles are a combination of tofu and yam and are low-carb.

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While the presentation was going on, they took small groups of us into the tofu manufacturing part of the facility. I had to don a jacket, pants, shower cap, and shoe coverings. Hygiene was serious business!

Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to take pictures. :( I know! Defeats the whole purpose of going if I couldn't take pictures for the blog. So just imagine conveyers like at the Behind the Scenes: Tillamook Cheese Factory - Tillamook - Oregon pictured below, but with big vats of tofu rapidly moving along the line. It was steamy and hot inside. Twenty minutes from liquid to block of tofu!

4 Tillamook Cheese Factory - Tillamook - Oregon 2

The tofu is made in a seven-step process (reprinted per the press release):
• Soaking: soybeans are soaked for 10-13 hours to absorb plenty of liquid for easy protein extraction.
• Grinding and heating: soybeans are ground and then heated for even easier protein extraction and removal of soybean odor.
• Filtration: heated slurry is filtered through a fine screen to remove solid matters, such as soy pulp and soymilk is extracted.
• Coagulation: soybean milk is curdled by mixing in calcium salt and other mineral coagulants.
• Forming and cutting: curd-like tofu is broken up, poured into a cloth-lined box, and pressed to eliminate excess water.
• Packaging and labeling: tofu is cut into small blocks and each block is packaged in a container filled with water. Containers are thermally sealed and labeled.
• Pasteurizing: packaged tofu is pasteurized in a boil-cool machine to preserve taste and freshness.
Afterward, we donned hardhats and went to the roof to view the solar panels.

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Then it was time for the three-course tofu tasting menu by Master Chef Noriyuki Sugie.

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Tofu ceviche.

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Since I think of ceviche as fish, this was really just tofu salad for me. Not that I'm complaining because I like tofu and don't think it necessarily needs to be disguised as something else.

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Miso-marinated tofu burger on a tofu bun. The bun tasted like bread, so I'm not sure how much tofu was put into the dough.

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Tofu brioche French toast with tofu walnut ice cream on a fig.

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The tofu ice cream was cold, but the texture wasn't like soy ice cream, it was a bit chunkier.

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We all left with good bags of House Foods' products and a gift card for Curry House, but I'll save those for separate posts.

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Thanks again Milena and Vladimir for inviting me!

Other Behind the Scenes posts:
Behind the Scenes: Bob's Red Mill - Milwaukie - Oregon
Behind the Scenes: Jamba Juice Headquarters - Emeryville
Behind the Scenes: Tillamook Cheese Factory - Tillamook - Oregon

House Foods America Corporation
7351 Orangewood Ave.
Garden Grove, CA 92841
714-901-4350

*****
1 year ago today, Ca Hap Gung Hanh (Vietnamese Steamed Fish with Ginger and Scallions).
2 years ago today, pandan mini cupcakes with coconut flakes, Hainanese chicken rice mix, belacan chicken wings, Thai green curry mix, and rendang instant mix.
3 years ago today, roll your own pork patty rolls at Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa - Alhambra.

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