Sunday, October 21, 2007

Steamed tofu balls - choosing the right variety of tofu and beancurd


In the Asian grocery stores, we find varieties of extra-soft, soft, silken, medium, firm and extra-firm tofu; whilst in the local store, it's more straightforward - it's usually just firm or extra-firm. When there are so many choices of tofu, choosing the wrong variety may lead to some imperfections in your dish.

For example, when you want to stir-fry or braise, going for the firmer "grade" is recommended, so that the tofu will not "break up" and crumble during the harsh action of cooking. On the other hand, if you intend to add tofu in soups or steam them, the soft or silken variety will usually pass down a smoother texture that blends well with the overall "structure-less" soup or steamed dish. But this is not a rule. You can always deep-fry a silken soft tofu to perfection, as long as you learn the tips and have the right equipment. :D

Personally, I prefer the soft texture of silken tofu. I use them when stir frying mapo tofu, and preparing Korean tofu stew. Though I know the soft or silken tofu variety does not really carry much nutritional value (as its water content is higher) compared to the firmer tofu (which has more calcium, protein, and iron per block or volume than the softer stuff), I still like them.

Steamed Tofu Balls
Ingredients
-orange or red peppers, julienned
-some enoki, buna shimeiji mushrooms
- soft/silken bean curd(1 small std size block or 1/2 big block) (Note: I recommend changing and using medium or firm tofu as I find that silken tofu gives too much moisture after mashing, "lose ALL its structure and integrity" and makes it hard to shape)
-1/2lb minced chicken
-1 egg white

Seasoning A
-salt
-1/2 tsp ginger juice
-some corn flour

Seasoning B
-salt
-1/2 tsp ginger juice
-1tbsp chinese cooking wine
-1tbsp corn flour

Directions:
1. Mash/puree bean curd tofu
2. Combine chicken and tofu in a bowl. Add egg white and Seasoning A. Mix well
3. Shape bean curd mixture into balls, and place on plate. Top with peppers and mushrooms , steam over high heat till cooked.
4. In saucepan, add Seasoning B and bring to boil. Pour over tofu balls. Serve immediately.



These steamed tofu balls are different from the Pipa Tofu I've tried to make much earlier, though the "mashing/pureeing and shaping" are similar. The Pipa Tofu that were deep-fried a little, then braised, were heavier on taste; compared to these steamed ones which are lighter in taste yet still delicious. The latter were also a lot easier to make since no deep-frying steps were involved. The steamed tofu balls are indeed another delight for me!

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