20 July 2011

Red braised tofu (zhang gu ying you dou fu)

So. I'm still eating Szechuan and Hunanese food a lot. Maybe twice a week. As well as the recipes (generally from Fuschia Dunlop, but with some diversions into two or three other books I have) which I faithfully document on SDON I just do a general stir-fry with whatever is to hand. It's a great standby dish for week nights - take the vegetables you have in the fridge and chop. Fry some fermented bean paste with some chopped garlic and ginger for a minute, add the vegetables and cook briefly and you're done. Put a splash of soy sauce and sesame oil and eat with a pitta from the freezer (always have pitta to hand in the freezer - essential!) instead of rice and it only takes five minutes.

action shot of me chopping garlics

But it is nice to try 'proper' recipes. This one if from FD's Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook.
  • garlic, ginger, red chilli, soy sauce, stock, thickener
  • tofu (book suggests deep-fried puffs)
  • some veg (+ shittake mushrooms (optional))
  • spring onions (obviously)
  • red chilli

Fry the garlic and ginger in some oil and when fragrant add some stock. Add the tofu and cook for five minutes. Then add your soy sauce (a decent amount), chopped red chilli, veg and shittakes. Add the spring onions and thicken. Simple eh.

For a side side we had fried cucumber. The photo in the book (below) pairs them with purple perilla flowers but I just fried them in discs with a little dried chilli and a drop of vinegar at the end. Very nice. I included courgette too as it was lying around.

OK I admit I'm constantly jonesing for fermented bean paste, but to me this just wasn't as tasty as mapo tofu and the like. It was decent, and nothing a little chilli oil couldn't improve but not quite scaling the hights of some of the other classics. The cucumber thing is a keeper though.


  1. The thing is with tofu puffs is that they soak up all the flavours of the liquids, so I imagine with normal tofu it doesn't work as well. I also have a huge addiction to fermented bean paste. I've never seen tinned shiitakes!

  2. Yep, I think that might have been a (if not THE) contributing factor. Still nice but at the back of my mind is a voice calling for pixian bean paste. Definitely addictive! Had some fish dry-braised in it last night and it's just so good.

    Tinned shittakes are great to have in the cupboard, instantly adds so bulk and variety to veg or tofu.

  3. "I'm constantly jonesing for fermented bean paste" - damn straight. I love aubergines fried then braised with dried chilli, garlic, a little stock and FBP - silky, salty, chilli, gorgeous.

    Loving the Szechuan vibes!

  4. Thanks! Still pretty into it and loads more things to try....