Chinese people, in my obviously unbiased opinion, are the masters of the humble soybean. They were making soymilk eons before soymilk became popular among Americans. They even use soymilk to make desserts like 豆花!
|Tofu pudding with brown sugar syrup and taro mochi- from my Taiwan trip in 2011|
They are also famous for making stinky tofu, whether it be the steamed/boiled type, or the fried kind, shown here (also from the Taiwan 2011 trip)
|Served with pickled cabbage and carrots to balance out the oil|
Chinese people were not the wealthiest of people groups in history, and I think it is because of that that they were able to among many other things, 1) be creative in making delicious dishes with meat as a flavoring agent rather than the star, and 2) use soybeans for all sorts of goodies.
So, today’s recipe features…well, yes, tofu!
It’s all in Chinese, and my Chinese reading skills are limited to mostly menu reading, so I use google translate’s voice function and pinyin function to read and listen to the author’s directions. I only have the patience and time to translate some of the directions, so I go mostly by instinct for the cooking methods, and pictures if they are there.
1 Tbsp dried preserved black beans
1 package firm tofu
1/4 tsp salt or 2 pinches
2-3 Tbsp oil
3/4 cup of black fungus (木耳), chopped
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1″ to 1 1/2″ dice
4 stalks celery, sliced on the diagonal into rhombi
2 stalks green onions, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1-2 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce (optional)
1-2 tsp sugar
1. Soak your black beans while you slice up your tofu and other ingredients. Use about 2 Tbsp water, or just enough water so that black beans are completely covered by water.
2. Drain the tofu of its water, then wrap it in a clean kitchen or paper towel and apply gentle pressure to get residual water out.
3. Slice the tofu into 1/2 inch thick pieces, then into 1 1/2-2 inch squares. If you tofu is old or holey like mine was for the second batch of this recipe 🙁 , slice thicker pieces!
4. Beat the egg with some salt. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a nonstick pan or wok, and in the meantime, put the tofu pieces in the egg. Gently coat the tofu on both sides and place 5-6 pieces on the hot wok at a time.
5. Cook the tofu about 30 seconds to a minute on each side, or until the egg sets up and gets slightly golden. Flip and cook the other side, then remove the tofu to a plate. Repeat these steps for all the tofu.
6. While the wok is on medium heat, add the soaked black beans to the wok along with their soaking water. Use a spatula to break up the pieces of black beans. Alternatively, you could chop the black beans with a knife on a cutting board. Stir the black beans occasionally and cook until all the water has evaporated.
7. Add another tablespoon of oil to the wok, then let the oil warm up. When the oil is hot, add the black fungus. Stir-fry until the fungus is cooked through, 3-4 minutes. Try one if you are unsure if it’s done.
8. Add the bell pepper, celery, and green onion, stirring around until the bell pepper is slightly softened and no longer raw tasting, about 3-4 more minutes.
9. Add the tofu to the wok, omitting any accumulated juices. Heat through and gently mix tofu with vegetables, being careful not to break too many tofu pieces. Season with soy sauces and sugar!
10. Adjust with more of either soy sauce or sugar, using your tastebuds to guide you.
11. Eat with plenty of steamed rice and sauteed cabbage with garlic on the side 🙂
a. For dried preserved black beans, I use this brand- Yang Jiang Preserved Beans（陽江美豉）
There is no substitution for the black beans. Sorry!
b. If you prefer, you can substitute the celery with 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1″ to 1 1/2″ dice. I like the crunchiness that celery retains post-cooking.
c. If you are starting out with dried fungus, soak 1/4 to 1/3 cup in water. For an okay but not great substitution (black fungus has a unique texture), use sliced oyster or king oyster mushrooms.