Recreating a Chinese tofu skin dish
- RealMenJulienne Apr 8, 2013 10:02 AM
Once, long ago, I had this dish at a local Chinese place. It was clearly more of a throw-kitchen-staples-together kind of dish than a real recipe, but was delicious nonetheless. Basically it was tofu skin (the kind that comes dried in long ribbons, not sheets), meatballs (gong wan), wood ear and bamboo shoots bound together in a brown sauce flavored with sliced ginger. There may have been gluten or seitan in there too... I don't remember. The overall flavor was very savory, not spicy, with the tofu skin soaking up the flavor of the sauce very nicely. I'm guessing it was stir-fried and then braised.
How you you go about putting this dish together?
Your description really kind of writes the recipe. Rehydrate the tofu skin (fu jook) and wood ears in warm water for about 30 minutes, then drain them and cut/tear into bite-sized pieces. Drain and slice the bamboo shoots, slice some ginger into 'coins', peel and crush a few toes of garlic (you don't mention it, but I'd be surprised if there wasn't some in the original dish). If it were me, I'd also slice an onion, and maybe some Chinese sausage (lop cheung). Prepare the braising liquid (based on your description, it might be bean-based, or soy or oyster or....), probably about half a cup is enough.
Get your wok screaming hot, and swirl a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil (peanut is best, but soybean works well, too) to coat the bottom and fairly high up the sides. Throw in the ginger and garlic, and toss/stir them, keeping them moving. After about 30 seconds, add the lop cheung and meatballs, toss for about 15 seconds, then add the onion. Keep everything moving, and after a minute or so, add the bamboo shoots, then the fu jook. Keep stirring/tossing, and when everything is thoroughly mixed up, add the braising liquid and cover. Allow to braise for a minute or so, then uncover and pour in a cornstarch and water slurry to thicken it a bit. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat, transfer to a serving dish, and chow down.
I wouldn't. I don't think frying it would do anything other than dry it out again (assuming you're thinking of frying it AFTER rehydrating it). To me, fu jook has two main qualities: a really interesting and satisfying chewiness, and a lot of nooks and crannies amongst the folds to hold wonderful sauces. It does not, however, have a lot of flavor of it's own.
If you're thinking of frying it DRY, I think that would make it even harder for the fu jook to rehydrate. Instead of being soft and chewy, I suspect it'd be hard and crunchy.