My college buddy went to Hong Kong for vacation, and she posted a lot of food pictures on Facebook.  I was drooling just watching them.  She posted a picture of a street vendor selling stuffed tofu, stuffed eggplant, stuffed peppers and fish balls.  Those were all my favorite street snacks that I grew up with.  I remember every time I bought a couple of stuffed tofu from a street vendor after school, they were taken right out of a big deep fry wok.  I burned my tongue every time.  Hehehehe.  It really brought back a lot of good childhood memory.  My mom made stuffed tofu, stuffed eggplant, and stuffed peppers at home sometimes.  She showed me how, it wasn’t hard.  Besides, the home-made version is a lot healthier since it is not deep fried.

Ground fish into paste first
Put fish paste on the eggplant, tofu or pepper
Put the side with the paste facing down first
Stuffed three treasures (stuffed tofu, stuffed eggplant, stuffed pepper)

Ingredients: 

  • White fish filet, ½ pound (any boneless white fish filet would do, You can use 1/2 pound of ready-made fish paste.  You can get it from Chinese grocery store. )
  • Dried shrimp, a few pieces (about 1 Tbsp)
  • Scallion, 2 stalks,
  • Fish sauce, a dash
  • White pepper, a dash
  • Water, 1 Tbsp
  • Chinese Eggplant, 1 (if you are using the huge American eggplant, you probably need ¼ of it)
  • Tofu, 1 packet (medium or firm, don’t get silken)
  • Green pepper, 1

 Steps:

  1. Pre-soak the dried shrimps 30 mins in hot water. Then chop it finely.
  2. Cut scallion into dices.
  3. Cut white fish filet into big pieces.  Put the pieces into a food processor.  Add a tablespoon of water, a dash of fish sauce and a dash of white pepper.  Ground every thing finely until it turns into a smooth paste.  You can add a little bit more water to make it smoother. Remove the paste from the food processor.  Mix it well with the chopped dried shrimp and scallion.  Put the mixture aside.
  4. Cut eggplant into slices of about 1 cm thick.
  5. Cut pepper into pieces about 2 inches wide.
  6. Cut tofu into slices of about 2 cm thick.  Pat dry them with a paper towel.
  7. Use a butter knife to grab a little bit of paste onto the tofu, eggplant or pepper.  
  8. Use a large non-stick frying pan.  Spray non-stick cooking oil onto the pan.  Use medium high heat.  Put the tofu, eggplant or pepper with the paste facing downward on the pan.  Let it cook for 6 or 7 mins.  Then flip it over to let it cook for another 6 or 7 mins.  Serve hot. You can add a few drops of diluted soy sauce if desired.

I’m really wondering if my life will get any less busy.  My day job plus my part-time school are killing me.  Plus I’m trying hard to squeeze in an hour per day to do p90x so that I can look excellent in 90 days, and not a little fatty. LOL. But time is my enemy.  I couldn’t find time to do anything.   A few weeks ago, someone introduced me to a super lazy dish which was steamed tofu and fish floss on it.  I was like “wow, who would think of a lazy dish like this?”  But now I definitely need some lazy dish like this.  I was pretty much having 5 or 6 hours back to back meetings these days.  I got a pack of tofu and fish floss at home.  So I was willing to give it a try. I modify the dish even more to suit my laziness.  Instead of steaming the tofu, I just microwave it.  Tofu is already cooked and they are edible out of the package.  So what’s the point of steaming it if I just want to heat it up?  That was the super lazy Fatty speaking. LOL.  So, I heated it up in a microwave for a minute.  Discard any water.  Then I added a few tablespoons of fish floss on top.  It was surprisingly refreshing.  I loved it.  Plus it is healthy, no oil, no toxin.  I ate that as a side dish with a bowl of rice.  Fish floss is one of those funky things.  It is dried and is already cooked.  It has a fish taste but not the fish texture.  I’ve seen mom made that from scratch when I was kid.  She used the leftover fish filet, and stir fried it in a wok while smashing it until it got really dried and turned flaky.  I would not know how to repeat what she did.  I usually put fish floss on a bowl of rice and it would be yummy.  I tried putting fish floss on a piece of bread and make it like a sandwich. It was yummy too.  It was funky but it was definitely cool stuff.  I usually keep a can of fish floss in my pantry just in case I have 0 time to cook, which happened quite often to me these days.

Fish Floss. Very flaky. This one has some seaweed in it.
A pack of tofu. Use soft or medium firmness
Tofu with Fish Floss. Healthy, lazy, funky!

Ingredients (Serves 2 as side dish):

  • Tofu, 1 pack (soft or medium firmness)
  • Fish floss – about 5 or 6 Tbsp (or you can add more)

Steps:

  1. Cut tofu into thick slices, like 1.5 inches or so.  Lay it flat on a plate.
  2. You can steam the tofu or microwave it for a minute like I did if you are lazy.  Or you can have it cold too. It’s up to you.  Discard any water.
  3. Use a paper towel to pat dry the surface of the tofu.
  4. Add the fish floss on top.

I probably should eat more tofu. It is packed with tons of protein.  Even though the taste is very bland, there is something wonderful about it that I love.  I used to have a lot of tofu dishes growing up.  One of the tofu dishes that I love is stuffed tofu.  Whenever I came across a street vendor that sold deep fried food, I would order a couple of the deep fried stuffed tofu.  It was crispy outside and soft and moist inside.  It was steaming hot and I almost burn my tongue every time eating that.  I could also find the same dish from dim sum restaurants.  The pan fried it instead.  Now that I’m on diet, I made the healthy steamed version instead.  Actually the tofu was usually stuffed with ground fish meat.  But I couldn’t find any ready made ground fish meat in regular American grocery stores.  And I wasn’t sure I wanted to try grounding it myself.  So, I decided to use shrimp instead.  I don’t have a food processor.  I was just chopping the shrimp into smaller pieces and then chop a lot more times to make it into a paste.  I remember seeing mom did that when I was kid. I know that is do-able.  I added some chopped onion with the ground shrimp meat.  It turned out very delicious.  I was proud of myself.  It’s an easy dish to make. I was happy that I’m eating healthier.

Mix chopped onion, ground shrimp and seasoning in a bowl
Cut tofu into thick slices
Spread shrimp mixture over tofu
Put the tofu into the steamer
Steamed Stuffed Tofu
Steamed Stuffed Tofu

Ingredients (Serves 2):

  • Tofu, 1 pack
  • Shrimp, ½ pound (You don’t need large shrimp, just get some smaller ones cos it is going to be ground anyway)
  • Onion, finely chopped, about 3 tablespoon
  • White pepper, a dash
  • Chicken powder, ¼ tsp
  • Salt, a dash
  • Soy sauce, 1 tsp
  • Sugar, ¼ tsp
  • Sesame oil, a few drops
  • Chopped scallion, 1 stalk (optional for garnish)

Steps:

  1. Finely chopped onion.  Put it in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Shelled and cleaned shrimp.  If you have a food processor, blend the shrimp into a paste.  Or you can just cut the shrimp into small pieces first, then keep chopping it until it turned into a paste.  It doesn’t take long, a few minutes will do.  Add shrimp to the mixing bowl.
  3. Add a dash of salt, white pepper and chicken powder into the mixing bowl.  Mix the shrimp, onion and everything together.  Put it aside.
  4. Prepare the steamer.  Put enough water in the steamer.
  5. While waiting for the steamer to get ready, cut tofu into thick slices about 1 inch thick.  Lay it flat on a plate that will fit into a steamer.  Or you can put it two pieces of aluminum foil like I did.
  6. Spread the shrimp mixture onto the tofu to make a thin layer.
  7. What the water boils, put the stuffed tofu into the steamer.  Steam with the lid on for about 8 mins.
  8. In a small bowl, mix the sauce: add soy sauce, sugar and a few drops of sesame oil.
  9. When the stuffed tofu is done, discard excess water from the dish.  Then drizzle the sauce over it.  Add a few diced scallion for garnish if desired.  Serve hot.

I made Sukiyaki last night. But I really didn’t have all the good ingredients.  I modified a lot of it.  I got some thin beef slices from the Chinese store.  The beef is no where as good as the ribeye slices from the Japanese store. But hey, there is a big difference in price.  I didn’t have the Japanese miracle noodles, I used the regular Chinese cellophane noodles.  I didn’t have the Japanese enoki or fresh shiitake mushrooms.  I used regular white mushrooms instead.  I didn’t get the Japanese made tofu, I had the Chinese brand tofu instead.  Hahahha… TOFU IS TOFU.  They all taste the same.  I also added some inexpensive fish cakes/balls that I got from the Chinese store.  Anyway, I substituted a lot of ingredients but I used the same seasoning and method to cook it.  I used what I had.  It was still very yummy.  Price-wise, I cut the dish from a $25 ingredient meal to half of it.  Not bad at all for a yummy knock-off.

For the original recipe, see Beef Sukiyaki with Miracle Noodles

Beef Sukiyaki - a cheaper modified version

What a week! Busy, busy.  People were sending me email late at night and telling me that this and that was urgent.  I am also struggling with finishing the school assignment.  It was really crazy.  I got about 35 minutes for lunch today.  I usually would make ramen noodles when I was in a rush.  Today I made Pan Fried Tofu with some veggie instead.  I was trying cut back on the starch.  Tofu with veggie is probably the most simple and bland food ever.  Tofu itself doesn’t have much taste.  But a bland dish like this is good for complementing a meat or a spicy dish.  I am eating this to be healthier and cut down the amount of meat and starch.  Ya, I’m trying to lose weight.  Since the dish is so simple, and the ingredients are pretty cheap, I don’t usually order it at a restaurant because I would feel that I got ripped off or something.  LOL.  But one time I did order this dish when I had dinner with my vegetarian friend.  I ordered some meat dishes for myself and couple veggie dishes for her.  I forgot the exact name of the dish on the menu.  It could be just called something like Steamed Tofu and Chinese Vegetable.  When the dish came, it had a few pieces of tofu, and couple of veggie, and some soy sauce poured over the dish.  That was it.  And they charged like $15 for a simple, inexpensive dish like this just because we ate at a fancy Chinese restaurant!  Really, what a rip off!  I could have made the same dish at home for less than $2.  My vegetarian friend felt bad since it was my treat.  It was alright, I did enjoy the dish. The tofu was silken. The veggie was yummy, and soy sauce was nice with a slight sweetness.  Plus the company, priceless!  I kind of made the same dish today except I pan fried it instead of steamed it.

Cut tofu and pat dry each piece
Cut tofu and pat dry each piece
Pan fry tofu for 5 mins each side
Pan fry tofu for 5 mins each side
Pan Fried Tofu with Bok Choy
Pan Fried Tofu with Bok Choy

Ingredients (Serves 2):

  • Tofu, 1 pack medium or soft firm. Don’t get the silken, it will be too soft to pan fry.  (I only made half of the tofu just for myself at lunch)
  • Chinese vegetable, a small bunch (You can use any leafy veggie like Choy Sum.  I used baby Bok Choy)
  • Garlic Powder, a dash
  • Salt, a dash
  • Soy sauce, 1 tsp
  • Oyster sauce, 1 tsp
  • Sugar, ¼ tsp
  • Cornstarch, 5 Tbsp

 

Steps:

  1. Wash the veggie for couple of times.  Drain and put it aside.
  2. Prepare the sauce:  Put soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar in a bowl. Mix it well. Put it aside.
  3. Cut tofu into thick pieces less than an inch thick.  Use a paper towel to pat dry the tofu.
  4. Put the cornstarch on a plate.  Coat tofu with the cornstarch.
  5. In a non-stick frying pan, spray cooking oil on it.  Use medium heat. Add tofu to the pan. Make sure they don’t touch each other.  Let it cook on one side for 5 to 7 minutes or until it is golden in color.  Flip it over to the other side, and cook it for another 5-7 mins.  Remove it from the pan.  Put it on a serving plate.
  6. Add a little bit oil in the pan.  Put the baby Bok Choy (or other leafy veggie) and stir fry it.  Add a dash of salt and garlic powder. Mix it well.  Cook it for 2 or 3 minutes or until it is cooked.  Remove the veggie from the pan.  Put it on the side of the tofu on the serving plate.
  7. Add some sauce to the tofu.  Serve hot.

Someone I know at work was posting a bunch of pictures of veggies on facebook.  He has started a detox diet.  I was like ok, that sounded good. But I don’t really like uncooked veggie or salad much.  I’m not a rabbit. LOL.  But I could make something with no meat for a change.  I could skip meat for breakfast and lunch, and that would be my own detox diet for now 🙂  I had a piece of whole wheat bread for breakfast with a little bit peanut butter and a tea.  For lunch, I made Fried Tofu Cellophane Noodle Soup with Chinese bok choy.  I used to get this from a Shanghai style restaurant in the morning, and that was one of my favorite breakfasts growing up.  It was simple and comforting.  It’s amazing how the combination of the ingredients turns out to be yummy.  Fried tofu doesn’t have much taste.  Cellophane noodle (or clear noodle) does not have any taste either.  Same thing for the bok choy, almost tasteless.  All these things just absorb whatever the taste of broth or soup.  It’s a very subtle dish.  I added a few dried shrimps to add some taste.  It was yummy.  If you skip the dried shrimp, that’s totally vegetarian.  Besides, the cellophane noodles have lower calories than egg noodles.  I’m going to try this no-meat-breakfast-and-lunch for a week, and see if I look leaner.  LOL.  Oh I forgot to mention that this is super easy to make. It only takes about 15 mins or so, can’t beat that!

 

Cellophane noodle
Cellophane noodle
Fried tofu
Fried tofu
Dried shrimp
Dried shrimp
Add everything except the veggie to the pot
Add everything except the veggie to the pot
Fried Tofu Noodle Soup with Dried Shrimp
Fried Tofu Noodle Soup with Dried Shrimp

Ingredients (Serve 1):

  • Cellophane noodle, 1 small pack
  • Fried tofu, 2 pieces
  • Dried shrimp, a small handful (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Chinese bok choy, 2 or 3 leaves
  • Scallion, 1 stalk
  • Water, 3 cups (you can use chicken stock and skip the chicken powder)
  • Chicken powder, ½ tsp
  • Fish sauce, 1 tsp

 Steps:

  1. Cut Chinese bok choy into edible sizes.  Put it aside.
  2. Cut scallion into small dices.  Put it aside.
  3. Add water to the pot. Add cellophane noodle, dried shrimp, and fried tofu to the pot. Use high heat.  Let it cook for 10 minutes or until the noodle soften and is tender.  The more you cook the cellophane noodle, the more it absorb the water.
  4. Add chicken powder, fish sauce and boy choy to the pot.  Let it cook for couple of minutes.   Taste it.  Add more water or salt if needed.
  5. Turn off the heat.  Add scallion.  Serve hot.

It was a delayed action that it took me this long to make this traditional Chinese vegetarian dish.  It is traditional vegetarian dish for Chinese New Year Day 1.  I really wanted to make this dish back then, but I got so tied up at work and stuff.  Mom used to make this on Chinese New Year Day 1. According to her family tradition, we should be vegetarian on that day to show some kindness of not killing any living thing for at least one day a year.  So she would make a huge amount of this dish and we used to have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Ya, you can imagine how boring that day would be.  Even though I respected my mom’s tradition, it was really hard for a meat lover to have 0 meat for the entire day.  So after I complained a few times, she only forced us to be vegetarian for breakfast and lunch. 

 

Dried Gold Needle - high fiber edible flowers
Dried Gold Needle - high fiber edible flowers
Chinese Hair Vegetable
Chinese Hair Vegetable
Fried Tofu
Fried Tofu
Tofu Skin Rolls
Tofu Skin Rolls
Putting all the vegetables in a pot
Putting all the vegetables in a pot
Chinese Vegetarian Dish with Hair Vegetable
Chinese Vegetarian Dish with Hair Vegetable

Oh BTW, you may not have seen or heard a lot of these ingredients here. That’s ok, that means there are more new stuff for you to try out. Awesome 🙂

Ingredients:

Note I don’t really measure these. Just get a handful of each ingredient.

  • Dried Gold Needles, a handful – these are edible, high fiber flowers.  They have a subtle sweet taste. 
  • Hair Vegetable (Fat Choi in Cantonese) or Black Hair Moss, a small handful – these are wild moss grow in the Mogolian dessert.  So, it take a lot of manpower to harvest these, ie, expensive stuff.
  • Tofu skin roll, about 3 long rolls – It’s very thin tofu product rolled into a long roll. 
  • Wood ear mushroom, a small handful – OOPS, I forgot to add them. They are black fungus. I’m sure you’ve tried them before. They are used in hot and sour soup.
  • Fried tofu, 1 pack
  • Cellophane noodles, a handful
  • Dried shaiitake mushrooms, 8-10
  • Chinese Bok Choy, 3 or 4 leaves
  • Water, 4 cups
  • Oyster sauce, 2 Tbsp
  • Soy sauce, 1 tsp
  • Fish sauce, 1 tsp
  • Chinese cooking wine, 1 Tbsp
  • Sugar, 1 Tbsp
  • Salt, a dash

Steps:

  1. Soak dried shaiitake mushroom in hot water for 20 mins or so.  Cut them in halves if they are too big. Put them aside.
  2. Soak the hair vegetable in water for a few minutes.  It will expand and get soft.  Drain well and put it aside.
  3. Soak the dried gold needle flowers in water for a few minutes.  Drain well and put them aside.
  4. Soak cellophane noodles in water for 10 minutes or so. Drain well and put them aside.
  5. Soak wood ear in warm water for 10 minutes or so.  Drain well.  Just coarsely cut them and put them aside.
  6. Cut fried tofu into halves. Put them aside.
  7. Break tofu skin rolls with your hand into long pieces of about 3 inches each.  Put them aside.
  8. Cut Chinese Bok Choy into pieces.
  9. Use a big pot, put dried shiitake mushrooms, dried gold needle flowers, tofu skin rolls, fried tofu, wood ear mushrooms, water, oyster sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, chinese cooking wine into the pot.  Ya, basically you can put everything except the cellophane noodles and bok choy and salt.
  10. User medium heat.  Let it cook for 30 minutes or so. The dried shiitake mushrooms need a longer time to cook in order to be soft and tender.
  11. There should be some water in the pot, not completely dry.  Add more water if needed.  Then add the cellophane noodles, let them cook for another 15 minutes or so. 
  12. Taste it and see if you need to add salt, or more oyster sauce. 
  13. Finally, add Bok Choy and let it cook for 3 more minutes. The sauce should be almost dried up.  See picture of the dish.

NOTE: If you are a real vegetarian, skip the oyster sauce, fish sauce and use soy sauce, salt, sugar and vegetable broth instead.

February 14, 2010

I LOVE Ma Po Tofu. Well, I should say I love any tofu. Tofu doesn’t have much taste by itself, so it absorbs whatever seasoning/sauce you add to the dish, which makes it yummy.

Mom used to feed us Tofu Fa and soy milk for breakfast when we were kids. Tofu Fa is basically silken tofu in a sweet syrup or brown sugar. It can be served hot or cold. I love having Tofu Fa for breakfast. I also remember mom brought me to the market (not grocery store) to buy tofu. I hated going to the market cos it smelled bad and the floor was always wet.  Anyway, those were the days.

I can’t get good Ma Po Tofu in Chinese restaurants in the US. One time I ordered it at my usual Chinese take-out place, and it had no meat in it. What a rip-off! I never order any Ma Po Tofu in any restaurants after that except my last reunion with my high school friends. But that Ma Po Tofu was too spicy for me.

Here is my version, not that spicy.

Ingredients:

  • Tofu, 1 package.  You can get it from most grocery stores.  I like medium firm. You can get the firm or silken version as you like.  Silken tofu may be harder to work with since it breaks easily when you stir fry it.
  • Ground beef or pork, 1/3 pound.  You can make it 1/2 pound if you like more meat, or cut it back.
  • Oyster sauce, 1 Tbsp.  Lee Kum Kee is a good brand. I don’t use other ones.
  • Cornstarch, 1 Tbsp.
  • Chinese cooking wine (or white wine) 1/2 Tbsp.
  • Black bean sauce, 1 Tbsp.  I use the Lee Kum Kee Garlic and Black Bean sauce.
  • Garlic, 1 clove, chopped.  Skip this if you use the Lee Kum Kee Garlic and Black Bean sauce.
  • Sugar, 1/2 Tbsp
  • Soy Sauce 1/2 Tbsp
  • Hot chili sauce or Chinese hot bean sauce, 1/2 teaspoon (optional, you can cut back the amount if you don’t like it spicy).
  • Water, 3 Tbsp
  • Scallion, 1 stem, chopped (optional, only for garnish)

Steps:

  1. Cut tofu into big cubes.  Put it aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine water, corn starch, oyster sauce, black bean sauce, and sugar. Mix well, put it aside.
  3. In a pan, add 1 Tbsp of cooking oil.  Use high heat.  Add beef. Stir it and make sure it doesn’t have big clumps.   Cook it for 5 mins or so.   Then add cooking wine and soy sauce. Stir well, cook for another min.
  4. Add tofu to the pan. Mix a little bit.  Be gentle, not to break the tofu too much.
  5. Add the sauce.  Mix well.  Lower the heat to medium.  Add the hot chili sauce.  Cook for another 2 minutes or so until the sauce thickens.
  6. Add scallion as garnish.

Remember to eat it while it’s hot!!