Two Sides Yellow

Fried Bean Curd with Garlic and Scallions

Preparation info

    Appears in

    Mrs. Chiang’s Szechwan Cookbook

    By Ellen Schrecker

    Published 1976

    • About

    Flavor: Unique

    It was no disaster if Mrs. Chiang’s mother made more bean curd than she could cook for anyone meal. The extra bean curd was put aside for several days (there was, of course, no refrigeration) until it had dried out enough to be turned into the classic Szechwanese dish, Two Sides Yellow. Basically, Two Sides Yellow consists of thin slices of bean curd that are first fried in deep fat until they turn a light golden yellow on both sides and then fried a second time in a little oil with some garlic, scallions, and soy sauce. Because this is such a simple, straightforward recipe, it lends itself to innumerable variations. Mrs. Chiang has made it in at least a dozen different ways. Sometimes she adds hot pepper paste, sometimes such vegetables as green peppers or string beans, and sometimes even a few shreds of meat.

    Method

    Preparation

    8 scallions Clean the scallions, then smash the head of each with the side of your cleaver. Cut the scallions, both white part and the green, into 2-inch lengths.
    5 cloves garlic Smash the garlic cloves with the flat side of your cleaver, then peel. Chop the garlic into pieces about the size of fresh peas.
    5 squares bean curd (the older and tougher your bean curd is, the better it is for this dish, but only for this dish) Rinse off the bean curd, then cut each square crosswise into slices about ¼ of an inch thick, 3 inches long, and 1 inch wide.

    Cooking

    6 tablespoons peanut oil, approximately (more if you are using a flat frying pan) You can use either a wok or a regular flat frying pan for this step. (Mrs. Chiang prefers a frying pan.) Whichever you choose, heat it over a high flame for 15 seconds before adding the oil. Then heat the oil over the same high flame until you can see a slight haze over it.
    (bean curd)

    When the oil is ready, put in your first batch of bean curd slices (you don’t want them more than one layer deep in the hot oil) and fry them for 5 to 7 minutes, turning them over only about once or twice, very gently, to make sure that both sides are golden and lightly speckled. (Mrs. Chiang likes to use a regular flat spatula for handling these delicate slices of bean curd.) Cook all the bean curd slices in this fashion, then set them aside on a serving platter.

    Pour out the oil you used for frying the bean curd, reserve it for future deep-fat frying, and clean out your pan with a paper towel if you are going to reuse it. If you have a wok, use it now.

    ½ cup peanut oil Heat your wok or frying pan over a high flame for 15 seconds, then pour in the fresh oil.
    (garlic) When the oil is ready, add the chopped garlic. Stir-fry it for 30 seconds, using your cooking shovel or spoon to scoop it off the sides of the pan and stir it around in the bottom, to keep it from burning. Don’t panic if the garlic turns brown right away.

    2 teaspoons hot pepper paste (optional)

    (scallions)

    Add the optional hot pepper paste and stir-fry it with the garlic for about 15 seconds, then add the scallions and stir-fry for another 15 seconds.
    (bean curd) Return the fried bean curd to the pan and stir-fry it with the garlic and other ingredients for 10 seconds.

    1 scant teaspoon salt

    1-½ teaspoons granulated sugar

    3 tablespoons soy sauce

    Add the salt, sugar, and soy sauce to the pan and stir-fry everything for a final 2 or 3 minutes. Serve immediately.