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Friday, October 12, 2012

Tofu with Ridged Gourd 胜瓜豆腐

One of the many dishes that I especially like in most Chinese restaurants, this casual yet elegant tofu dish easily stands out among the other tofu options in their menus. Soft and smooth tofu met with the naturally sweet and good absorbing natures of the ridged gourd - when drenched in the savory, starchy beaten egg gravy, they make a simple but scrumptious dish on its own.

ridged gourd with plenty other names - luffa, angled loofah, Chinese okra or silk gourd
A ridged gourd appears to be elongated in shape, protected by a layer of toughly ridged green skin with tapered ends. The first step to handling this will be to have the skin removed using a peeler or a knife, exposing the white flesh within. These gourds get more fibrous as they mature, so it is always best to choose a relatively younger gourd to ensure the flesh at its peak tenderness.

Tofu with Ridged Gourd 胜瓜豆腐
Serves 2-3
4 pcs soft tofu (2"x2"x1")
1 angled loofah (weighing about 1lb), skin removed
5 pcs crab sticks
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg
1/2 cup water
~3 tbsp cooking oil

1½ cup stock or water
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp corn starch dissolved in 1/4 cup water for thickening

1. Cut each piece of tofu into half. Arrange the tofu on top of a double layered paper towel. Take another double layer of towels and press gently on top of the tofu to get most of the water out. 
2. Heat up about 2 tbsps of cooking oil in a frying pan. Once hot, gently add in the tofu pieces. Try to not let the tofu pieces adhere to one another. They should be done in batches. 
3. Leave the tofu to fry on one side for about a minute or two. When nicely browned, flip them over and fry the other side. 
4. Likewise leave the tofu to fry on the other side until they start browning and crusting nicely. Remove and let rest on a plate lined with a paper towel.

5. Have the ridged gourd sliced into thick sticks, comparable to the size of the cut tofu. Tear the crab sticks into large pieces and set aside.

6. Apart from the corn starch mixture for thickening, have the gravy prepared by mixing the rest of the ingredients together in a bowl.
7. In a wok, heat up about 1/2 tbsp of cooking oil. Add in half of the minced garlic and stir fry until fragrant.
8. Put in the ridged gourd and fry until water starts seeping out of it. Pour in 1/2 cup of water into it, cover and let simmer, turning and mixing them occasionally. Once soft, dish out and set in a bowl.
9. Heat 1/2 tbsp of cooking oil in the wok. Sauté the remaining minced garlic until fragrant. Pour in the bowl of gravy and let boil. 
10. Add in the crab sticks pieces and the ridged gourd and thicken with the corn starch solution to the right consistency. Crack in an egg, stir to break and mix well with the rest.
11. Finish by adding in the fried tofu and let cook for about a minute of two. 
12. Arrange and serve hot.

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