Friday, 23 July 2010

Tofu Trial

My hubbs likes eating tofu - it's nutritious, low in fat, high in calcium and protein.  It's adaptable to various flavours and comes in a variety of different forms, fresh cubes sold in boxes with water to keep it fresh; in a sealed UHT box (usually the silky Japanese version - stored on supermarket shelf); deep fried tofu puffs - great in braises where the puffy sponge-like texture soaks up the tasty juices, or great for stuffing with meat pastes and fried; a soft silky version to be eaten as a dessert "豆腐花" (dou-fu fah); dried tofu; or preserved cubes in jars for cooking and then there are also variants with the beancurd skin that is produced when making tofu - but I'm not going there!  All from the humble little yellow soy bean!

I'm usually apprehensive with buying of tofu - although I've eaten it at home and also when in chinese restaurants, it's not something I really know how to prepare and cook with.  So, on our travels to Peterborough on Sunday, I saw a chinese supermarket in the High Street and of course I had to have a wander in!  I stocked up on a few essentials like soy sauce and dried noodles but also saw some fresh tofu.  Not sure if it's expensive but I paid £1.50 (GBP) for a box with three cubes in.  The cubes were probably 3"x3" square - enough for 2 and not too big a package for me to have to deal with.  I also bought a bag of choy sum - one of my favourite chinese vegetables - which I disappointedly, have failed to grow this year!

I had no idea how I should cook the tofu but fancied something like a tofu claypot where it's cooked alongside meat, vegetables and maybe prawns.  I resorted to phoning up my chinese culinary master - my mum!  She told me to cube it, blanch in some water, drain it and slip it into the wok once teh rest of teh ingredients were cooked.

This is what we ate on Sunday....

Dinner a deux!  Getting quite homely these days!

It couldn't have been too bad as my hubbs gobbled up his dinner fairly quickly.  He has a habit of taking a break halfway through his dinner and I think I can tell if dinner is to his liking as he doesn't stop for a 20-30 minute breather in between!  Bless!  No wonder he is the svelte shape he is!

Tofu with Pork and Courgette

150g sliced pork (I used pork spare rib chop - boneless but any meat will be fine)
1 medium sized courgette cubed
a few scallops sliced in half ( I would've like prawns but I didn't have any)
2 cubes of tofu, drained and cut however you like
1 shallot, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
dash of white pepper
dash of chinese wine (for marinating - optional)
dash of sesame oil
splash of soy sauce
1/2 tsp cornflour
blob of oyster sauce
1/2 cup water
cornflour & water mix

I mixed the pork with the pepper, sesame oil, chinese wine, soy and 1/2 tsp cornflour in a small bowl and let it sit whilst I prepared the rest of the ingredients.
I blanched the tofu in boiling water for about 1-2 mins before removing them from the wok and leaving them to one side.
I heated up the dried wok and added 1 tbs oil and let it get hot before I added the sliced pork.  I let it sizzle on one side for a bit before turning it over.  Then I added the shallots, and the courgette cubes and minced garlic and let them fry for 2 minutes.
I then added the water so the courgette could cook.  When it's simmering away I add the flavourings, a shake of squid sauce - about 2-3 tsps (my hubbs is half vietnamese and this is his essential cupboard item!), a blob of oyster sauce.  A shake of soy - about 1tsp.  I then add the scallops - I don't like tehm to overcook so add them towards the end. 
I taste the sauce and adjust where necessary before thickening with the cornflour & water mix.

5-Spice Tofu Fingers

1 cube of tofu cut into fingers and drained on kitchen towel
1 tsp 5-spice powder
2-3 tbs cornflour

I was inspired to make this dish after reading Elin's blog on tofu.
I kept this one simple and mixed the cornflour and 5-spice powder on a plate - I can't remember whether I seasoned with salt and pepper!
All I did was coat each tofu finger in the corn flour and let it shallow fry gently in some oil in a frying pan.  Cornflour doesn't brown that easily (which I didn't realise) and I just let it fry and fry and fry!  It certainly was crispy but I would just fry until the cornflour coating has gone crispy and turn it over to fry the other sides.  I think if you cook the tofu this way (perhaps with out the 5-spice) you could use it as a meat substitute for other dishes like sweet and sour or served with a creamed corn sauce, or even a lemon sauce.

The choy sum was simply blanched and dressed with oyster sauce.

All in all, my tofu trial was easier than I expected without any kitchen mishaps!


  1. Hi PL...I love tofu and yours looks delicious. I can eat 2 bowls of rice with just the tofu dish. Looking at yours, I know what I am going to do with the tofu when I next buy them....tofu fingers dip with hot spicy garlic chillies or with wasabi !!! yay...thanks for giving me an idea what to do with the tofu :)

  2. Wow! You like hot spicy food Elin? I think they'd be good with Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce - that's spicy enough for me! heeHeeHee!