Braised Stuffed Bean Curd

Big Number-one Uncle, the chef, would occasionally make this special dish for our Monday-night dinners. Our family secret: the amount of prawns he used depended on how much he had won at the racecourse the weekend before. His betting choices were what made this an ‘occasional’ treat. But it was one worth waiting for.

He would first pan-fry the stuffed bean curd, then add a splash of rice wine, with stock and soy sauce to complete the recipe. The bean curd would absorb the sauce, and this turned a rather prosaic food into a mouth-watering, satisfying treat. The filling inside the bean curd was simple but truly tasty. Moreover, the occasion was always a joyful one, whether Uncle had won on the ponies or not.

The dish can be made ahead of time, for it reheats quite well. Serve it with plain rice and other vegetables for a complete meal.

Ingredients

  • 450 g (1 lb) firm bean curd
  • Cornflour, for dusting
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions, to garnish

For the Stuffing

  • 115 g (4 oz) fresh or frozen raw prawns, peeled
  • 115 g(4 oz) minced pork
  • ½ egg white
  • ½ teaspoon cornflour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped spring onions

For the Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 120 ml (4 fl oz) Chinese Chicken Stock or store-bought fresh stock
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Method

Cut each bean curd square into quarters. With a paring knife and spoon, hollow out the squares, leaving a 5 mm (¼ in) wall all the way around. Save the extra bean curd you have scooped out, mash it with a fork and set it aside for the stuffing. When you have prepared the bean curd squares, drain them on kitchen paper for 10 minutes.

Now prepare the stuffing. First, coarsely chop the prawns. In a large bowl, mix the chopped prawns with the remaining stuffing ingredients. Dust the inside of the hollowed out bean curd lightly with cornflour and gently fill each one with a spoonful of the stuffing. The cornflour will keep the filling from falling out. There should be some stuffing left over.

Heat a wok or large frying pan over a high heat until it is hot. Swirl in the groundnut oil and, when it is very hot and slightly smoking, turn the heat to low and add the stuffed bean curd, filling side down. Gently pan-fry, turning the bean curd when lightly browned and browning on the other side. Stir-fry the remaining stuffing mix over a high heat for 1 minute. Pour off any excess oil and pour in all the sauce ingredients, except the cornflour mixture. Now return the stuffed bean curd squares to the wok or pan, layering them in gently. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 3 minutes. Mix in the cornflour and cook for another minute. Garnish with the spring onions and serve at once.

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