Beancurd sticks doesn’t sound very appetizing (most translations of dried Chinese goods sound a bit questionable), but they are delicious! Really. They are made from the skin that forms on top of soymilk as it’s being cooked, and these ‘beancurd sticks’ are sponges for flavor as well as texturally sound. They have a little bit of chew to them, but are also soft. They soak up whatever liquid they are plunked in.
About a month ago, when it started to finally get warmer and more humid, I started craving mostly room temperature and/or dishes that didn’t require much cooking or braising. Liang ban fu zhu, or marinated beancurd stick, is a product of such cravings. The best part about liang ban food is that you can make it ahead of time and eat it as a side with your meal, so plan ahead! Continue reading
It is really hot! I’ve been trying to think of desserts I can make without having to use the oven. That being said….
In Taiwan, we had some really good food. One of those places with really good food was recommended to us by our Hualien-born friend, Ingrid. Thanks again, Ingrid, for all the food recs (all were amazing!). Cai Ji Dou Hua, also known by Ingrid+fam as ‘Ah Piao ShuShu’s’ (the name of the owner), is a dessert shop that serves goodies like grass jelly, tofu pudding, cooked pressed barley, along with add-ins like boba, sweetened red or mung beans, brown sugar syrup, whole milk, or condensed milk shaved ice. As I mention in this earlier post, this place was so good we returned the very next day, and in total had about 8 bowls of delicious desserts in 3 days 🙂
We loved the dou hua a lot, and when I was at Nan Men Market, I made sure to buy dou hua powder so I could make it at home when we returned to the US. The powder made some pretty good dou hua, but I noticed a slight bitter aftertaste to the dou hua, and thought maybe I was imagining things? A Chinese blogger confirmed my thoughts when she did a comparison of 3 dou hua powder brands; she also found the brand I used slightly bitter.
So, without access to Nan Men Market, no sightings of dou hua powder at the stores in Philly, and the determination to make dou hua at home, what’s a girl to do? Luckily my YTower Tofu cookbook had the answer!
What is this tofu pudding you speak of? Imagine if tofu had the smooth and creamy texture of a light flan, but the taste of soymilk; that’s how I would describe dou hua. There is a sugar syrup that the dou hua sits in; either a sweet ginger syrup, or brown sugar syrup. Then, there are endless numbers of toppings/accompaniments that can go with it..
Literally translated as black sugar, this can be found at some Asian grocery stores. This brown sugar is sooo good and resembles dark red dirt more than sand (what I think Western brown sugar looks like).
Sketchy source of gypsum powder. Few little information on this…I took a chance! Will be buying it from MySpiceSage soon.
If you find yourself craving hui guo rou (Twice Cooked Pork) but only have firm tofu, I think this could probably called twice cooked tofu, because it is pan fried first by itself, then sauteed with the other ingredients. Mostly, though, the flavors are very similar, so I thought to call this twice cooked tofu..
1) Slice some firm tofu (I used 1/2 lb) into small squares (about 1×1 inches)
2) Blot dry and pan-fry until golden brown
3) Stir fry with leek (I used a few stalks of green garlic), about 2-3 tsp tian mian jiang (sweet flour paste), and 2-3 tsp la dou ban jiang (spicy bean paste). For some crunch and texture, I added some minced lo bo gan (salted radish).
4) Add salt and/or soy sauce if needed.
You can also follow the recipe link above, if you would prefer to measure things 🙂
-I used green garlic from my CSA and loved the bite and hearty texture it provided!
Tim and I have been eating lots of tofu lately. How much? Enough to buy the 6 lb packages of tofu! At about $5/pkg, it’s a pretty good deal, and there’s only one container to open.
Anyway, I have been substituting tofu for meat in several dishes and realized that it can be pretty darn good and fast, and requires less cutting board paranoia than when using meat.
We(I) had cooked Thai food for friends, and there leftover Thai basil but no more curry. Hmmmm…I saw my 3 lone blocks of tofu leftover, plus the basil. Three cup tofu? Could it be done? Read below to find out! If you are rolling your eyes at three cup tofu and are looking for three cup chicken, click here, if you please. Take notes that it’s almost exactly the same recipe..
The drier your tofu is to start with, the faster it will brown up.
Lv Dou Tang, mung bean soup, is a great healthy breakfast or light dessert. If you add rice (1/8 cup raw rice) and cook for a longer period of time, you’ll get lv dou xi fan, or mung bean porridge, my mom’s choice of accompaniment to cong you bing (scallion pancakes) or jiu cai he zi (chive boxes).
Hong dou tang (Red bean soup), its sister soup, is only served hot, and for hot days like today, it would probably just make you sweat more. Lv dou tang is best eaten cold, because it is great for helping you cool down. So, make some lv dou tang, chill it in the refrigerator or add some ice cubes, and drink up for a refreshing snack.
Quick fact: Lv or lü (綠), means green, as in the color, just like hong (紅) means red (for hong dou tang). A direct translation of lü dou tang as green bean soup would sound very unappealing to those who imagine string beans in soup. Sweet green bean soup? Yuck! Likewise, red bean soup that is sweet, also sounds pretty strange, if you think of red beans and rice when you hear the word red bean. 😀
Henceforth…mung bean and adzuki bean, their more dynamic and non-literal translations.
Take advantage of lv dou tang’s versatility, and make some now. The version I’ll show you is a very, very basic version. Feel free to add extra goodies like lotus seed (lian zi) or lily bud (bai he)- a few tablespoons of each should do it!
Pearled barley (left) and mung beans (right) make for a simple tasty soup
Lv / Lü Dou Tang
Mung Bean Soup
Makes 3-4 small servings Continue reading
I’ve had this picture of mapo tofu from Wu Chao Shou in Taiwan as my Google picture for forever…it’s time to replace that! And, it is also way overdue for a post about 麻婆豆腐, seeing as I make it rather often (does once every 2-3 weeks count?).
A few days before Chinese New Year, I brought red bean sticky rice cake for my friends at the restaurant to try. “What is it?” one of the servers asked. “Bean cake,” K told them. “Hmm, is this eaten with anything else- ice cream or something?” S asked. “It tastes….innnnnteresting…”
1) Sweet bean taste (and weaker bean taste, too, because this was a store-bought cake, not the one I made) and 2) Rice in dessert made for some disappointments in taste and texture department from these French cuisiners. Oops! Needless to say, they were not fans. I later told my mom on the phone about this funny cultural exchange, and we talked about the differences in Western and Eastern palates.
It’s funny how different cultures think about different ingredients. For beans, Western cuisine and Eastern cuisine have completely different takes on it!
When I think of beans with a Western brain, I think of salt: chili, hummus, rice and beans, split pea soup, and salad.
When I think of beans with an Eastern mindset, I think of both salt and sugar: tofu, soy sauce, soymilk pudding, red bean paste (豆沙), Vietnamese 三色冰 or Che Ba Mau, red bean soup, mung bean soup, etc.
But, please stay with me on this beany journey- learn to appreciate both the savory and sweet applications of our legume friends!
‘Mung bean’ is the more appealing translation of the Chinese word lv dou (綠豆). Lv dou actually translates to ‘green bean,’ just like adzuki bean is another word for red bean. I’m sure people would be gagging if they heard green bean soup as a dessert, as a picture of the lovely string bean would first pop up in their minds.
If the taro version is the ‘original’ 西米露, then allow me to call this its mung bean cousin.
I was tempted to add a pinch of salt, after thinking of how salt is so smartly applied in the famous Thai dessert of mango sticky rice, but feel free to include or exclude that if you wish. I don’t think Chinese people ever add salt to desserts, so I guess this is my take on this one.
Also, I’m not sure if 綠豆西米露 is the official correct name for this, but it’s the way I thought to differentiate it from its popular taro counterpart. Bon appétit!
|Pre-coconut milk…post coconut milk looks kind of funky! :d|
lv dou xi mi lu
Mung Bean Tapioca Soup Continue reading
Every year our church holds two potlucks, and the weather forecast showed this past Sunday to be a warm day. I was trying to think of something that would be good for a crowd, yet easy enough to make in my barely-moved-in kitchen supplies and equipment! My friend G had requested that I make the Taro Coconut Dessert, but I thought it would be too warm for that. She has some food allergies and also tries to be vegan when possible, so I tried to also keep her in mind for the dessert.
Enter memories of mung bean soup, or lu dou tang, from childhood. My mom would make this simple lightly sweetened dessert of mung beans cooked until they were ‘sandy’, served cold. Sometimes she would add grains or seeds like lotus seeds or pearled barley, but the heart and soul was the mung bean. I thought of grass jelly as a refreshing addition to the mix, then thought of chewy mochi balls for some texture. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this soup would actually be an ode to some of my most favorite Taiwanese shaved ice fillings, in a drinkable form. (Imagine trying to make shaved ice for 100+ people and keeping it cold…good luck!) To keep it simple, I’ll call this mung bean soup. The additions are recommended, but not required; even just mung beans on their own soup taste delicious.
“Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart,
the more you eat the more you fart,
the more you fart the better you feel,
So eat your beans with every meal”
Besides the catchy song, there are three reasons Tim and I eat beans:
1) We like how they taste
2) They have lots of fiber- think digestion and fullness level! 🙂
3) They are less expensive than meat per serving
I wouldn’t compare the texture of these black bean burgers to that of hamburgers, but they are quite tasty! They remind me of the solid and toasty form of black bean soup.
|There ARE buns beneath the black bean burger and avocado..|
Saturday and Sunday lunches in my family were usually pretty sui2bian4, or whatever, because of activities or church right before. In our family, this dish was almost always an accompaniment to xi1fan4, juk, 稀飯, rice porridge, or whatever you want to call it. I guess we liked the combination of hot xifan and cold doufu (豆腐) together! Nowadays, I don’t eat xifan as much, but I still love this marinated doufu almost any time. It’s easy to make because the shelf life of most of the ingredients is pretty long!
is probably one of my dad’s favorite impromptu dishes, because I always
remember seeing him open a package of tofu out of the fridge to make this.
Aside: What’s the best way to get tofu out of the box? Use a knife (the one you are currently using to prep your ingredients, preferably), and make 3 slices along the rectangular box that the tofu comes in. Peel off the plastic covering, and dump the tofu onto an expectantly clean hand or bowl. Use the tofu box to store your cut-up tofu. There is no other way!
Anyway, my dad loves garlic, so you can bet that there would always be LOTS of garlic in any dish he made that called for garlic.
Sometimes we would have green onions in the house, sometimes not. I prefer it with!
1 package soft tofu (firm and silken could also work in a pinch)
1-2 thousand year old eggs (pi2dan4 皮蛋),sliced in half then in quarters (optional if you can’t find it or if you don’t like it)
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp sesame oil
Preserved turnip (zha4cai4 榨菜) – 2-3 tsp, minced (optional)
Dried shrimp, finely chopped and sauteed in some oil- 2-3 tsp, minced (optional)
Dried Pork (rou4song1 肉鬆)- 2-3 tsp, added at the last minute (optional)
1-2 stalks green onions, diced or minced (optional)
1-2 sprigs cilantro, coarsely chopped (quite optional and not that authentic)
1) If you have time, carefully salt the soft tofu all around its sides, and let the excess water drain out. If you less time, use a clean kitchen towel or paper towel to gently squeeze the excess water. If you have even less time, just use the the tofu as is.
2) Add all the ingredients to the tofu. Salt generously- remember that tofu is pretty bland on its own, and that you are seasoning a huge chunk of it! Just a little soy sauce- not enough to make your tofu look brown, but just a little for more fermented goodness.
3) Mix everything together, and try not to pulverize the tofu so that it’s itty bitty chunks like cottage cheese..(someone in my family who will not be named used to do this, and it made me very sad..)
–As always, feel free to adjust further for YOUR preference of salty/sesame oil/garlickyness.
-American brands of tofu , like Nasoya, have odd specifications for tofu firmness. I remember getting what I thought was soft tofu, only to open the package and realize that the ‘soft’ tofu was a lot more like firm tofu than anything else.
-I like Nature’s Soy tofu because they are localish, claim non-GMO beans, and I know what to expect for tofu firmness.
-Note the several different add-ins. Thanks, Mom, for the dried shrimp and dried pork suggestion!
I don’t know if I want to make this dish…
spicy and pungent garlic nudges your tastebuds gently, and its trusty friend, the green
onion, lingers in the background. The 1000-year old egg has a fattiness
and creaminess to it that stars opposite the cleansing and light tofu.
-You know how people talk about ‘Chinese salads’ or ‘Asian salads’? That’s a myth. Most Chinese food is cooked; this is as close to you’ll get as a “salad,” as the garlic, green onion, and tofu are all ‘raw’!
-Don’t worry, 1000-year old doesn’t really mean that its been sitting for 1000 years. Its texture is similar to that of a medium-boiled egg, but it’s much more bold tasting than a ‘regular’ egg.