Stuffed Beancurd Squares

Beancurd suffers from an undeserved reputation for excessive blandness and dullness. It is indeed bland (and so is rice), but this is a virtue when properly approached. The trick is to take advantage of beancurd’s generous receptivity to other foods, spices and seasonings. In this recipe, which my cooking colleague Gordon Wing helped to create, we stuffed the beancurd with a mixture of ginger, mushrooms, onions, and other flavours and textures, then pan-fried and covered the beancurd squares with a savoury sauce. Serve with rice.

Ingredients

  • 450 g (1 lb) firm beancurd
  • 3–4 tablespoons oil, preferably groundnut

Filling

  • 15 g (½ oz) Chinese dried mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped spring onions
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon yellow bean sauce
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
  • ½ teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, roasted and ground

Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry
  • ½ teaspoon cornflour mixed with 3 tablespoons water

Method

Soak the dried mushrooms in a bowl of warm water for 20 minutes. Drain and squeeze out any excess liquid. Cut off and discard the stalks; coarsely chop the mushroom caps.

Cut the beancurd into 4 pieces to make squares. With a teaspoon, scoop out 1 tablespoon of beancurd from the top, without breaking through to the bottom. You will now have a square of beancurd with a dip in the centre of the top. This is where the filling will go.

Heat a wok or large frying-pan over moderate heat and add 1 tablespoon of the oil. Put in the filling ingredients and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Leave the mixture to cool, then finely chop in a blender. Gently spoon the filling into the hollowed-out beancurd squares.

Heat a frying-pan or wok over high heat and add 2 tablespoons of the oil. When hot, add the stuffed beancurd squares, unfilled side down. Lower the heat and fry, turning them over from time to time until they are brown all over. You may have to do this in batches, adding more oil if necessary. Remove the stuffed beancurd, drain on kitchen paper, and arrange on a serving platter.

Meanwhile, wipe out the wok and bring the sauce ingredients to simmering point, stirring. Pour this mixture over the beancurd and serve at once.

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