Saturday, June 29, 2013

Cantonese Style Stuffed Tofu

A delectable Dim Sum staple. But, it seems that there are two versions, one stuffed with fish and/or shrimp paste and the other with a ground pork filling. Is one more authentic than the other? I have no clue and perhaps that's a moot point. Anyhoo, here's my version (adapted from Lucille Liang's Dim Sum Made Easy), using firm tofu. Soft tofu can also be used, but it easily breaks apart when you pan fry it - been there, done that (Gil actually liked the soft tofu rendition, so I'll include a postscript on how that is best prepared).

2 14-oz. blocks of firm tofu, sliced in half and cut into 16 triangles (see photo below)
1/2 lb. ground pork
1 tbsp. light soy sauce
1 tbsp. rice wine
1 scallion, chopped

2 cups low sodium chicken broth (or 2 cups water + 1 tbsp. Tungchun chicken base)

1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. oyster sauce
4 tbsp. water
2 tsp. sugar

2 tbsp. cornstarch + 2 tbsp. water (cornstarch slurry)
2 scallions, thinly sliced on the bias (garnish)

1. Cut the tofu into triangles, per the photo below. Place another chopping board on top with some cans or other heavy objects to press out the excess water (20-30 minutes).

2. Mix 1 tbsp. of light soy sauce, 1 tbsp. rice wine, and 1 chopped scallion with the ground pork, cover and marinate for 30 minutes.

3. For the sauce, combine 1 tbsp. soy sauce, 1 tbsp. oyster sauce, 4 tbsp. water and 2 tsp. sugar. Set aside.

4. Remove the cans/chopping board over the tofu and drain any liquids that have been pressed out. Blot the tofu pieces dry with paper towels. 

5. Cut a pocket into each tofu triangle and fill with 1-2 tsp. of the meat filling using a teaspoon (be careful not the break the tofu).

6. Heat about 1/2 cup of vegetable oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Place the tofu triangles, meat side down, and cook 1-2 minutes or until browned; turn tofu triangles over and brown the other sides. Remove to a platter. 

7. Pour out oil from the pan, add the chicken stock and simmer for several minutes. Place tofu back into the pan and simmer for several minutes. Remove tofu to a serving platter.

8. Add the sauce ingredients to the remaining stock in the pan and bring to a boil. Stir in the cornstarch slurry and continue cooking until the sauce has thickened. Remove the sauce from the heat and pour over the stuffed tofu and garnish with sliced scallions. 

Don't bother stuffing soft tofu and then trying to fry it - it will be an inimitable disaster, which I found out the hard way. Best bet is to cut the tofu into squares, triangles, or other uncomplicated geometric configuration, shape the meat filling into 1/2" meatballs, saute the meatballs first in a bit of oil, then add the tofu, chicken stock, sauce ingredients, thicken with cornstarch slurry and garnish with sliced scallions. Kind of like a Mapo tofu dish without the spicy element. 

Slice each tofu block in half, lengthwise, then cut each of the 4 pieces into 4 triangles (making 16 triangles total).

 Mix pork with light soy sauce, rice wine, and scallion. Cover and marinate 30 minutes.

Place a chopping board over the tofu triangles and weigh down with heavy objects like cans,  pans, etc. Leave for 20-30 minutes to press any excess water out of the tofu.

Blot tofu dry with paper towels.

Rice wine, chicken base, oyster sauce, and soy sauce.

Cut a small slit into the long side of each tofu triangle and carefully stuff with 1-2 tsp. of the meat filling.

Heat 1/2 cup of oil in a saute pan over medium heat and add the tofu triangles, meat side down. Cook for 1-2 minutes until browned

Remove browned tofu to a plate. 

Pour out oil from the pan and add 2 cups of chicken stock. Bring to a boil.

Add the tofu back to the pan & simmer for several minutes; remove tofu to a serving plate. Add sauce ingredients to the remaining stock in the pan, bring to a boil, then add cornstarch slurry and cook until thickened.

Pour sauce over the tofu and garnish with scallions.

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