Bean Curd (Tofu) with Oyster Sauce

February 23, 2016

I can hear some of my friends saying “Bean curd! WTH? Ick! Yuck! Never!”

To which I respond: “Don’t knock it ’til you try it.”

Back when our kids were little – I’m talking  the 1980s – we hung out a LOT with Carla’s sister Linda and their crew. We’d switch back and forth for weekend dinner practically every week. Linda was – still is – a great cook. If she was cooking something the kids might hold their noses at, she would make a tofu dish that I adored. I’d sneak so many pieces while she cooked that I’d be full before dinner.

I found the old recipe while going back through an old notebook of recipes written on scraps of paper a few weeks ago. Whoa! I should totally make that. But I didn’t. The recipe calls for simmering in chicken stock and I wanted something a bit crispier so I tried this recipe I found searching for similar recipes. It omitted the chicken stock, and added mushrooms – so bonus!

Firm tofu, ginger, garlic, mushrooms and oyster sauce are the stars here.

Bean Curd (Tofu) with Oyster Sauce - Ingredients
Bean Curd (Tofu) with Oyster Sauce – Ingredients

Before starting on this dish, I rinsed some medium grain rice and started the rice cooker.

Sometimes my prep is a bit gratuitous – done more for pictures than for cooking, but with stir fry you want everything ready to go in separate bowls.

I placed the tofu on a few paper towels on a plate and added another plate on top with some weight to squeeze out excess water. While that was happening I sliced the mushrooms and a bit of ginger, crushed the garlic and made a sauce of soy sauce, oyster sauce, and a bit of sugar. Then I cubed the tofu.

Bean Curd (Tofu) with Oyster Sauce mis en place
Bean Curd (Tofu) with Oyster Sauce mis en place

I sizzled the crushed garlic and ginger slices in some hot oil then added the mushrooms for a few minutes. Next the tofu went in with the oyster sauce. Finally the green onion slices then a combination of water and corn starch to thicken things up. I used a wok here, but a non stick skillet would be just perfect. In fact America’s Test Kitchen eschews a wok for a non stick skillet. But I got that news after I bought a wok a few years ago.

Bean Curd (Tofu) with Oyster Sauce in the wok
Bean Curd (Tofu) with Oyster Sauce in the wok

Now I know combining Japanese, Chinese and Korean dishes is probably stupid – kind of like cooking paella and spaghetti just because they both come from Europe. Nevertheless, I got a bottle of our favorite brand of Kim Chi for a side. I also used some Korean Go-Chu-Jang sauce on the rice because I love it so. It’s worth making rice just so you can eat it.

Dinner is served: Bean Curd (Tofu) with Oyster Sauce with rice and Kim Chi
Dinner is served: Bean Curd (Tofu) with Oyster Sauce with rice and Kim Chi

I was a little concerned as it was cooking; instead of staying together and crisping it wanted to break apart and look more like scrambled eggs. I took that as a hint to treat it gently with the spatula.

This is definitely a do over – a great reminder of the wonderful dish Linda prepared thirty years ago. I may try another recipe that gets the tofu a bit crispier. I also think I’ll use extra firm tofu next time. This isn’t strictly vegetarian since there is oyster extract and some fish paste in the oyster sauce (hence its name). But if you are looking for a low meat dinner try this.

Rating: ★★★★ A definite do-over and an entry into the weeknight rotation.

You can find my copy of the recipe here.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.