I love eating tofu – be it silken or firm; deep-fried, braised or steamed; smelly or non-smelly! But finding tofu overseas (in non-Asian countries) can be really difficult. For the first few months when I’m here, I only saw tofu packed in paper boxes that don’t need to be refrigerated, which looks really weird. As it was also very expensive, I didn’t dare to buy and try it out. Then when we visited another supermarket that’s further away from our house, we managed to find fresh tofu imported from Singapore! What a joy! But it also came with a hefty price tag – at almost SGD 3.60 per packet (which is almost 4 times the price in Singapore)! So whenever we saw a promotion on the tofu, we would definitely sweep a few and stock up.
One of the tofu dishes I sorely miss is my mom’s braised tau kwa. It’s a very simple, easy and comforting dish that goes well with either rice or porridge. Even though it’s called “braised”, it does not need the preparation of any braising sauce or long hours of braising, which makes this dish perfect for a weeknight meal. Instead, a simple sauce with just water, light and dark soy sauce is used which is then thickened with a little corn starch. Minced pork is added to make this a one-dish meal but you may omit it you are a vegetarian. The thickened gravy is perfect to drizzle onto rice or adding more flavour into a bowl of plain porridge.
For those who have not cooked with tofu before, tau kwa is extra firm tofu with the most amount of water pressed out as compared to other types of tofu. In Chinese, it’s known as dou gan (豆干). It has a firm texture, somewhat like meat, and has a rubbery feel on the outside. It can be deep-fried or stir-fried as it holds its shape well. By weight, tau kwa has a greater bean to water ratio than silken tofu, which translates to more protein per gram (i.e. more nutritious!)
My mom told me that packaged tau kwa, as compared to fresh ones sold in wet markets, can taste really rubbery and a tad too firm, so to counter this, I rubbed in a little salt which helps make the tau kwa softer. If you have the chance to get your hands on some tau kwa, why not try making this quick, easy, delicious and nutritious dish at home?
|1) Combine minced pork, light soy sauce, sesame oil, Shaoxing wine and white pepper together in a small bowl and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes.||2) Pat-dry tau kwa with paper towels. Slice it into half then into 1/2-inch thick pieces.|
|3) Sprinkle salt all over the tau kwa and rub it in gently. Set aside for 10 minutes.||4) Heat oil in a frying pan add in the taw kwa pieces in a singly layer.|
|5) Pan-fry the tau kwa until golden-brown on both sides. Remove the tau kwa and set aside.||6) Add in garlic and minced pork and cook until pork is no longer pink.|
|7) Add the tau kwa back into the frying pan.||8) Add in water…|
|9) … Followed by light soy sauce and dark soy sauce. Bring to a boil simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, flipping the tau kwa occasionally so that the colour is even on all sides.||10) Add corn starch mixture into the frying pan to thicken the sauce.|
- 150 grams minced pork
- ½ tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine
- Dash of ground white pepper
- 1 piece tau kwa / firm tofu (about 200 grams)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
- 125 ml water (1/2 cup)
- ½ tablespoon light soy sauce
- ½ tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon corn starch
- 1 tablespoon water
- Chopped spring onion and/or coriander, for garnish
- Pork Mixture: Combine all the ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Tau Kwa: Pat-dry tau kwa with paper towels. Slice it into half then into ½-inch thick pieces. Sprinkle salt all over the tau kwa and rub it in gently. Set aside for 10 minutes.
- Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat and add in the oil. Swirl the frying pan then add in the taw kwa pieces in a singly layer. Turn the heat down to medium and pan-fry the tau kwa until golden-brown. Flip onto the other side and pan-fry until golden-brown as well. This will take about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the tau kwa into a bowl and set aside.
- Without cleaning the pan, add in the garlic and pan-fry until golden on all sides. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add in the Pork Mixture. Cook until the pork is no longer pink, breaking up the minced pork into small pieces. Add the tau kwa back into the frying pan, then stir in water, light soy sauce and dark soy sauce. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, flipping the tau kwa occasionally so that the colour is even on all sides.
- Dissolve corn starch and water in a small bowl and add into the frying pan to thicken the sauce. Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with chopped spring onion and/or coriander and serve with porridge or rice.