One of my favourite dishes at (good) Chinese restaurants is what every place seems to call their “special fried tofu” (or something along those lines anyway). Despite making it sound like a house specialty, it tends to be the same across different restaurants – large squares of a savoury, silky, custard-like egg tofu which has been deep fried to achieve a lovely crispy exterior. It is usually served with a light soy-based sauce and spring onions.
A while ago, I saw that a fellow food blogger, Nom Nom Panda, had decided to make her own egg tofu and recreate the dish at home. It didn’t sound too difficult, so I made a mental note that I would give it a try as well. (On a side note, it’s a cool blog – you should check it out.)
And then I forgot about it for a year.
So here’s my LONG overdue attempt at making my own. Nom Nom Panda got her recipe from Amy Beh at Kuali.com which is pretty much the one below – the only change I’ve made is to use a bit less salt as I found my tofu to be a bit too salty. (Also, like Nom Nom Panda, I used foil to line my dish.) It’s a really good recipe and I was really pleased when the texture came out lovely and silky. I used a dish which was a bit too big though and so, as you can see from the photos, my squares came out pretty flat.
As Nom Nom Panda notes in her post, you must use unsweetened soy milk which only has soya beans and water in the ingredients list. (You can find bottles of this at Asian stores.) Don’t use the soy milk that you find at any regular supermarket – So Good and Vitasoy apparently have not much soy and lots of other stuff in their milk.
When you are deep frying the tofu, it may seem like nothing is happening other than lots of air bubbles forming on the surface – don’t worry about it. Just be patient and it will eventually turn a lovely golden-brown colour on the outside. It’s worth taking the time so that it forms a good crust.
I don’t really have a recipe for the soy-based sauce that I made, as I was pretty much making it up as I went along. I kept tasting and adding more water or sugar, depending on how salty it was. My only word of warning is to not be too heavy handed with the soy sauce at the start. If cooking like this scares you, then perhaps try this recipe here at the Baking Diary.
If you don’t want to deep fry your tofu, it would still be delicious steamed or pan fried.
Homemade egg tofu
500ml fresh unsweetened soya bean milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp cornflour
Line a 20cm square tray or dish with foil or cling film.
Beat eggs lightly and add soya bean milk, salt and cornflour. Mix well with a fork and strain the mixture into the prepared tray.
Cover the tray with cling wrap and steam over a low heat for 20 minutes or until cooked (it should be firm to the touch, like jelly). Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Then refrigerate for at least an hour so that it is firm and easier to handle.
Carefully remove from the dish/tray. Peel off the foil/cling film and then cut into squares.
Deep fried egg tofu with soy-based sauce
vegetable oil, for deep frying
1 spring onion, finely sliced
2-3 Tbsps of fried shallots
Chinese rice wine
Heat up enough vegetable oil to deep fry the tofu. Carefully lower the tofu squares into the hot oil. Leave until you can see a nice crust forming on the outside. Carefully flip them over to evenly brown on both sides. Remove and drain on paper towels to remove excess oil.
While the tofu is frying, make the sauce. In a small saucepan, start with heating 1-2 tablespoons of the soy sauce, then add a tablespoon of water, a quarter teaspoon of sugar and a splash of Chinese rice wine. Stir to dissolve the sugar and then taste. Add more water and/or sugar if too salty. If not salty enough, add a bit more soy sauce. Once the flavours are balanced to your taste, take off the heat.
Arrange the tofu on a plate and sprinkle over the spring onions and fried shallots. Pour the sauce over and serve immediately.