Oyster Sauce Bean Curd

As I grew up, I became increasingly aware of my mother’s enormous energy. Every evening she would come home from work and prepare a fresh and delicious meal for us. She, of course, kept to very simple dishes, such as this bean curd with oyster sauce. It is easy to make and typical of Chinese-American home cooking. Sometimes my mother would add carrots or tomatoes, but most of the time she made it in this simple way. The dish is an appetizing and very satisfying home-style treat.

Incidentally, I remember how she used to complain about the quality of bean curd available in America, and how much better, silkier and, above all, fresher the bean curd was in China. That was probably true in the 1950s and 1960s, but the quality of bean curd has vastly improved over the years. I think that even my mother now finds bean curd at the supermarket quite acceptable.


  • 450 g (1 lb) firm fresh bean curd
  • 480 ml (16 fl oz) groundnut oil
  • 3 spring onions (white and green parts), finely shredded
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons Chinese Chicken Stock, store-bought fresh stock or water


Cut the bean curd into 2.5 cm (1 in) cubes. Drain them on kitchen paper for 10 minutes. Heat a wok or large frying pan over a high heat until it is hot. Pour in the oil and, when it is very hot and slightly smoking, deep-fry the bean curd cubes. When they are crispy and brown, remove them and drain them on kitchen paper. Drain off all but tablespoons oil.

Reheat the wok or large frying pan with the reserved oil over a high heat until it is hot. When it is very hot and slightly smoking, toss in the spring onions and garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Then add the soy sauces, rice wine, sugar, oyster sauce, pepper and stock. Toss in the bean curd and cook for 4 minutes. Turn the heat back to high and continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Serve at once with rice.