Last july, we took a one-day cooking class when we were in Chaingmai, Thailand. Our chef or tour guide looked like Mr Chow from the movie”The hangover” , more younger, but the same speed of talking and with lot of gestures. We first went to a local morning market, where “Mr Chow” showed us many Thai spices and vegetables, he answered my qustions about these Thai food. Then we drove in a minibus to a big house, which is located outside the city. It has a big garden with many herbs and fruit trees in it. We spend half the day there, cooked 5 dishes: a salad, main course and dessert. I asked for more than 10 Thai chillis added to my papaya salad, and after eating it, I felt as hot as the weather there. Thank God, the diarrhea that I had for more than one week was stopped after this hot papaya salad.
A delicious dish with a long history: tofu with 3 sauces, also known as “San Bei Doufu” in Chinese. It translates as: three cups tofu, which means that 3 cups of sauce are added to the tofu dish (rice wine, sesame oil and soy sauce) The chicken-based variety is more well-known, but it works with different ingredients (also with shrimp). I will show you the vegetarian variety, mostly because many people just don’t know how good tofu can be! If you’d only fry tofu, then indeed there is no taste, but with the proper preparation and the right sauce, this dish could become your favourite! The preparation I use originally comes from the province of Jiangxi, in the South of China, but nowadays it is a poplar dish in Taiwanese restaurants too. The story behind this dish goes back more than 800 years. The hero Wen Tianxiang had been captured by Mongolian soldiers under Ghenkis Khan. One guard who had pity on him wanted to serve him a last supper before his execution, but all he had to offer was: chicken, wine, sesame oil and soy. He proceeded to stew everything in a large stone pot over a wood fire. By accident, the meal that was served to him was the best one that Wen ever tasted!
Traditionally this dish (usually with chicken) is prepared in a stone pot over a fire, until the meat has completely soaked up the taste from the sauces. This takes a long time, but with my recipe, the tofu will suck up the flavours very rapidly. After preparing the meat and sauces you will be done in 10 minutes.
During the Beijing Olympics of 2008 this dish was served to the participants
Fresh tofu, in a block of 1 portion (400 grams), buy this in the Asian shop. Don’t use silk tofu but the harder kind
Take a couple (4-5) of dried shii take mushrooms and soak them overnight in warm water, or boil them on low fire for about 15 minutes, until soft. In both cases don’t throw away the water! This is very tasty and you will need it later
Cut the tofu in cubes of about 4 cm
Chop the fresh ginger in fine pieces, and crush the garlic by pushing the blade of a large knife onto it. We’ll need rough pieces
Cut the scallion in pieces of about 3 cm long
Deep fry the tofu cubes. For this you can use a large amount of oil in a small pan (make sure that the tofu is covered halfway in oil) The oil that remains you can use for later frying, so you don’t’ need to throw this away. Heat the oil and deep fry the tofu until golden brown, stir regularly. Then take out of the pan and let them dry on a kitchen towel. The pieces of tofu will get a crunchy crust, SEE HERE what they should look like
Mix the corn starch with 3 tablespoons of cold water in a bowl and stir until smooth
Heat 3 tablespoons of sesame oil in a wok. Then add the ginger, garlic and scallion and stir fry for 1 minute (for a more spicy dish, you can add the chopped chilies now)
Then add the sliced shii take mushrooms and stir fry until a strong aroma develops
Then add the tofu cubes and mix everything together
Then add the liquid from the mushrooms (make sure that there isn’t any sand at the bottom of the bowl), or else just use water, and let it simmer for a while
Add soy sauce and half a tablespoon of sugar. Stir regularly
Keep it boiling until about half of the liquid has evaporated, then add corn starch and keep stirring
Finally, add the rice wine and 3 out of 4 pieces of basil. Turn off the fire
Serve the tofu in a nice bowl or on a plate with the leftover fresh basil on top, and serve with a bowl of rice
Tip: if you must use meat, then use chicken breast
Tip: deep fried tofu is also nice in a soup or hotpot, or even just as a healthy snack (add some salt then)