I rarely make Chinese food at home. It’s usually because it makes more sense to pop down your local favourite halal (mind you) Chinese restaurant and order a shameless spread that should feed six when there is only the two of you. And usually the food is excellent and you’re brimming with satisfaction (with a tinge of regret) at the end of the meal.
That is one reason.
The second reason is that while relatively easy, I find that there are many parts to Chinese cooking. The chopping, the slicing, the prepping before the final voila of putting everything together. Although the cooking part is fast – the mise en place takes forever and I end up using so many little bowls that the kitchen becomes a giant mess. And since we have the I cook, he cleans policy, I feel a twinge of guilt at the end of the storm.
The final reason is, it is hot. I love oven meals even though people complain that the oven is hot because well, I can LEAVE the kitchen while I shove something in the oven. I can’t do that with Chinese food. The quick stir-fries require high heat and you have to stand in front of the stove. You can’t just quite walk out.
By the time you are ready to serve, you are usually hot and sweaty. And frazzled. With a gigantic mess that you left behind.
It’s a shame though because as I said earlier, Chinese food is delicious.
Sizzling beancurd is my dad’s favourite Chinese restaurant dish, it is something he always orders and it is something we have to keep an eye on at the restaurant because otherwise he would spoon every single tofu onto his plate without us noticing. It is such a star dish, the sizzling beancurd because it comes to the table with smoke billowing and the dark sauce bubbling away furiously. The egg tofu is smooth and the sauce a rich umami flavour that you can spoon and eat with rice as is.
Today’s recipe is from Nasi Lemak Lover: but as always, I modified to fit with the ingredients I have at home.
So traditionally, this dish is served on a hot plate – but meh, don’t worry until you have a hot plate for this dish. Because you would be missing out on something truly wonderful. The two of us ate and ate and then collapsed fast asleep. It was a lot of food but there were no leftovers. We polished every last tofu, every bit of chicken and every last dropof the sauce and our stomachs ached after that from overeating.
There is A LOT of components to this dish. A LOT. And not being organized and meticulous will only make life difficult for you when the dish is put together and jeopardizing the success of this dish. I’ve broken down each part of this dish to its mini ecosystem to help you as you cook. Serves 4
Prepare the following in order
200g chicken thigh
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
A dash of maggi seasoning
Salt and pepper
2 packets of egg tofu
Cornstarch for coating
Oil for deep frying
1 tbs oil
1 small onion – sliced thinly
1 inch garlic – sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic – sliced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup chicken stock
1 tbs cornstarch mixed with water, made into a slurry
About 8 shitake mushrooms – fresh so you don’t have to rehydrate it. Sliced
1 egg, beaten
2 red chillis sliced
Spring onions – just the green part
- I like to use whole chicken thighs and then mince the chicken using my food processor. Mince it as finely as you would like.
- Tip the minced chicken and add the soy sauce, Maggi seasoning, sesame oil and salt and pepper. Mine was almost like a paste, so I worked it in with a spoon. Set it aside while you work on the rest.
- Take the egg tofu and cut it in half along the line on the packet. If there is no line, well, just cut it in half while the tofu is still in its packaging. Squeeze the tofu gently out of the tube, making sure it is whole. Slice the egg tofu into rounds.
- Dredge the tofu with corn starch.
- Heat up a pan filled with enough oil for deep frying. When the oil is hot enough (wait until it is hot enough) gently place the tofu discs one by one. Do not overcrowd. Be gentle or the tofu will break. Fry until golden and set aside.
Okay gang, this is where I all comes together so I hoped you heeded what I said and have everything in place. I wanted to serve it on frying pan that is presentable enough to be served in public so think about the vessel you want to serve it in and have it ready.
- In a frying pan on medium heat, heat up 1 tbs of oil and add the sliced onions, garlic and ginger. Saute until it’s tinged with brown on the side.
- Tip in your minced chicken, breaking it up as you cook it. Once browned add in the mushrooms. Leave to cook for two minutes or until the mushrooms are cooked. Season with a little salt, pepper and sugar.
- Add your chicken stock. Leave to cook for 3 minutes. This is the best time to check your seasoning.
- Once perfect, add 1 tbs of your cornstarch slurry. Stir well and leave to simmer for 3 minutes. If the thickness of your sauce is to your liking move to step 5. Remember, you can’t unthicken your sauce so go easy on the slurry.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the egg. Slide in the tofu, sprinkle the spring onions and chilli on top and serve immediately.