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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pan Fried Tofu with Minced Meat 油煎肉碎豆腐

A tub of soft tofu is a common sight in our very own refrigerator here at home. Made from soybeans, tofu makes a highly nutritious protein, on top of it being an inexpensive one. Its versatility is unbelievable, lending itself well to pan or deep fried, braised, steamed, stuffed, stir fried and even boiled and made part of a bowl of soup. With what seems like an endless list to the possible ways to getting it prepared, it is not at all surprising that tofu makes a good dish completing a meal anytime, often creating miracles.

This very version of having it pan fried then topped with minced meat and finishing with a touch of specially mixed soy sauce is one adapted from a rather similar dish I had years back in a dining place by the name of Pak Su Restaurant back in my hometown. A specialty of theirs, "Deep Fried Tofu with Minced Meat" 油炸肉碎豆腐 is made with their tofu homemade. They are deep fried instead of the one pan fried here. Crispy on the outsidevelvety smooth soft on the inside, it was easy to fall in love with that simple yet appealing dish. Topped with chopped dried shrimps fried to a light crisp combined with the fragrant minced meat, they on a whole create a very appetizing dish indeed, easily whetting anyone's appetite.

While you may wonder if pan frying would have made a difference rendering it less crispy that what intended, I must say that as far as it goes, I have yet to get disappointed with the results I would usually get with pan frying. Doing it the right way, a tofu with a crispy, nicely browned crust is almost always a guaranteed achievement. There may be a couple of points worth noting, however.

  • Patience - allow enough time for each side of the tofu to brown and crust up evenly before flipping them over to another side. Any less and all the effort may be well wasted in the end, either torn or broken while they are still adhered to the pan undone or there just is insufficient time for the crusting to even begin. 
  • Temperature - I always have them done on high heat throughout and I do think that it is vital to have a well heated pan with hot oil to begin with. Avoid overcrowding the pan. Always leave a little space in between tofu pieces. Pan fry them in batches instead if needed.
  • Tofu condition - Medium or firm tofu are no doubt easier to manage but soft tofu is always all the same doable, with just a little extra care needed when dealing with them. Start with a good quality of tofu especially making sure that they are good in shape. Blot dry by gently pressing them in between layers of paper towels right before putting them into the pan. 
And a little of a last warning ahead of time - be ready to embrace yourself to some level of splattering once the tofu hits the frying pan.

Pan Fried Tofu with Minced Meat 油煎肉碎豆腐
Serves 2-3
3 pcs soft tofu (2"x2"x1")
1/4 lb ground pork
1/4 cup dried shrimps, soaked to soften then coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk spring onion, chopped
2½ to 3 tbsps cooking oil plus a little extra (~2tbsps depending on size of pan) for pan frying tofu

Meat marinade

a dash or two white pepper powder
1 tsp light soy sauce

1/4 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp corn starch


2½ tbsps light soy sauce
3/4 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sugar 
3 tbsps water
a dash or two white pepper powder  

1. Begin with marinating the ground pork in advance. Keep refrigerated until cooking time.

2. Arrange the tofu on top of a double layered paper towel. Take another double layer of towels and gently press down on top to absorb most of the water out of the tofu.  
3. Set the frying pan over high heat and heat up just enough oil to coat the pan. Once hot, gently add in the tofu pieces. Try to make sure that the tofu does not adhere to one another. Leave the tofu to fry for a minute of two. They are ready to be flipped over when the bottoms have browned and crusted well. Similarly, leave the tofu to fry on the other side until nicely browned. Fry until all sides are nicely crusted. Remove and let rest on a plate lined with a paper towel.
4. Mix the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl. Transfer it to a sauce pan and put on low heat to lightly heat up dissolving the sugar within. Leave heated until serving time.
5. Heat up a skillet with the cooking oil and add in the minced garlic. Stir-fry until fragrant and bring in the chopped dried shrimps next. Again be ready for a little more splattering here. Keep stirring until you can smell the distinct aromatic smell of the dried shrimps.
6. When they start browning, add in the minced meat. Stir-fry until the meat changes color and flip over doing the same. Break them into smaller pieces and mix well with the rest. Once thoroughly cooked, dish up and set aside.
7. Transfer the tofu pieces onto a serving plate. Spoon in the minced meat spreading them on top of the tofu and finish by lightly drizzling the sauce over and around the tofu, just enough not to over-flood the tofu.
8. Garnish with spring onion and serve hot with a bowl of plain rice.


  1. My wife wants to eat tofu for her dinner and I think this is the perfect food for her. I will now copy this and create it for her. Thanks for sharing!

    Easy Stir Fry

  2. I tried it last night and it was a hit! Thanks for the sharing!

    1. I'm glad you liked it! Thanks for the feedback! :)

  3. Hi, are you using soft tofu or tau kwa for this dish? Thanks

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