Saturday, August 4, 2012

Braised Kau Fu (Wheat Gluten) with Assorted Vegetables

Wheat gluten (Kau Fu) is used widely in Chinese cuisine as a vegetarian option to meat. I got the base  recipe for soy-braised Kau Fu, a traditional Shanghainese dish, from a former coworker of mine (thanks Zhiling!) and have adapted it by omitting the chicken stock and adding rice wine,bamboo shoots and edamame beans. There are several variations to this dish and my additions are, I believe, still within the realm of the tried & true. I know that gluten-free is all the rage these days, but it's also a health issue for some folks, so this is not a recipe for those who either don't want to or just can't take it. Otherwise, it's a delish dish that works well as a cold appetizer. If you've never tried Kau Fu, it's on the spongy side. Texture may be kinda weird but, trust me,  it'll grow on you. 

Kau Fu is available in your local Asian/Chinese market, either frozen or dried-roasted. I use the dried because it has less oil and is, therefore, healthier.

8 oz. dried roasted wheat gluten
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 oz. (about 10 small whole) shiitake mushrooms
8 oz. whole bamboo shoots (preferably the vacuum-packed variety), cut into 1" cubes
1 scallion, cut into 1" sections
1 cup dried lily flowers
1 cup shredded dried black wood ear fungus

4 cups water
3/4 cup soy sauce
4 tbsp. granulated or rock sugar

1 tbsp. sesame oil
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1 cup frozen edamame beans

1. Fill a large kettle with water and bring to a boil.

2. Place the dried wheat gluten into a large bowl. Pour hot water to cover & let sit 20-30 minutes to soften. Once softened, drain well, squeeze the gluten dry (ok to wring them out with your hands), then cut each cube of wheat gluten in half if they look too big. Set aside.

3. Place dried lily flowers, wood ear fungus and shiitake mushrooms into a medium bowl. Cover with hot water and let sit 20-30 minutes to soften. Once softened, remove the stems from the shiitakes and cut each cap in half. 

4. Add 1/4 cup of oil to a wok or large saute pan and heat over medium high heat. Add the drained wheat gluten and stir-fry for a couple minutes. Add the scallions, shiitakes, and bamboo. 

5. Add the wood ear mushrooms, lily flowers, water, soy sauce and sugar. Cover and cook 30 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. 

6. Add edamame beans and season with sesame oil and white pepper. 

7. Let cool to room temperature. You can serve this dish at room temp, but I like to refrigerate it overnight, take it out about 10 minutes before serving,  let it 'de-chill' for about 5-10 minutes, and it's ready to go.

Dried roasted wheat gluten.

Dried shredded woodear mushrooms. You can use shredded or whole in this recipe.

Dried lily flowers.

Dried shiitakes.

Soak the dried wheat gluten in hot water 5-10 minutes to soften. Drain and squeeze dry.

Soak the shiitakes, wood ear mushrooms and dried lily flowers in hot water 5-10 minutes or until softened.

Slice each shiitake mushroom cap in half, cube the bamboo shoots and cut the scallion into 1" sections.

Saute the drained wheat gluten in 1/4 cup of hot oil.

Add the scallion, bamboo, and shiitake mushrooms.

Add the wood ear mushrooms and lily flowers.

Add the water, soy sauce, and sugar.

Cover and cook 30 minutes over medium heat.

Stir in edamame beans and cook 1-2 minutes to heat through. Season with sesame oil and white pepper.


  1. Looks really good!

  2. I'm been looking a recipe like this. Cant wait to try it myself tonight. But when do you add the soy sauce?

    1. Oops! My bad...
      You should add the soy sauce the same time that you add the water (step #5). I realized that I omitted that in the recipe, so it's now been updated. If you do try the recipe, hope you enjoy it!

  3. Where do you add the sugar?