Ready : 2 hrs [Prep : 1 hr 30 mins † Cooking : 30 mins]
Serve : 4 with other dishes
Generic : Errr.. Pound/Mince, Mix, Stuff, Fry and Braise ?!? (Ahaha..)
Level : Tricky/Tedious
Idle : 30 mins Printable Recipe.
“An Absolute Hakka Masterpiece Of A Dish”
Guys, let me tell U, this gotta be the most tedious and time-consuming dish I have ever tried..*LoL*. Not because it was hard to prepare or anything like that but simply because it was The VianD first take on preparing this dish and it was really quite technical on the stuffing part..ahaha..well, at least for The VianD! Not to mention, the periodical intermission of stopping, washing the hands to take pictures for this posting !!! Aiyoyo !!! But in the end, The VianD gotta to said, it was all good and worthed because the dish turned out beautifully delicious. Anyway, a little introduction on this classic Hakka dish. Traditional Hakka Yong Tau Foo is a dish consists of tofu cubes stuffed and heaped with minced meat (usually lamb or pork or a mixture of prawn/fish) and infused with some good quality “Mui Heong (梅香, soft, slowly aged threadfin)” salted fish. These stuffed Condiments are then fried – served dry with sauce or as a soup dish, or sometimes braised with Taucu paste or Fermented Black Beans. Variations these days, include usage of various condiments, including Bean Curd Sheets and all kinds of Vegetables. Here is The VianD’s attempt of “Hakka Yong Tau Foo (客家酿豆腐)“. Be prepare for the longest post here and the most tedious cooking processes..*LoL* !!! Btw, The VianD has a rather unique way fo serving the dish, U’ll see.
- Spanish Mackerel (Kau Yu). Gutted and fillet – most fishmonger will do this for you if requested. Keep the Bone, Skin and Head for making Fish-Stock.
- Minced pork.
- Seasoning – Salt, Sugar and White pepper.
- Paste texture – Tapioca flour and Ice-water.
- Paste handling – Saltwater.
CONDIMENTS FOR STUFFING :
- Bean Curd sheets, Tofu (White or Fried), Red/Green Chilli, Okra/Lady Finger (pict. 1). Brinjal (Eggplant) and Tofu Pok – both of these not in the picture.
- Saltwater – for handling the Paste. Tapioca Flour water-mixture – for sealing the Beancurd Sheets. (pict. 2)
- Ginger, Onion and Red Chilli – all sliced. Garlic – finely chopped. Scallion – cut to about 2 inches long. Taucu paste (Fermented bean paste ).
- Sauce seasoning – Salt, Sugar, White pepper, Sesame oil, Oyster Sauce, Light soy, Shaoxing wine. All to taste. Cornstarch mixture as thickening agent. (** Note : Just dash of everything, if U prefer a stronger intensity of an ingredient flavor, simply add a little extra of that ingredient/spice (no rocket scientific measurement here). Always taste your Seasoning !!!)
1. Preparing the Fish Paste :
This is actually the most tedious part. The good thing is that you can do a large portion and keep it in the freezer for later. When the paste is done, this will be your filling for anything you wanna stuff, including forming them into Fishballs or Fishcakes. Get your fishmonger to do the gutting, fillet and chop the fish head off for you.
- Using a spoon (pict. 1), scrape the flesh off the fish skin (as well as bones), going along the grain – in the direction of the fish bones. Carefully feel for any bones and remove. Nicely scraped-out flesh (pict. 2).
- Using a granite mortar and pestle (the VainD is a sucker for tradition..LoL), pound the fish flesh (pict. 3), adding a little Salt water as you go along and the fish flesh will gradually become stickier and stickier (pict. 4). Or you can mince the flesh with the back of a chopper, or even in a food processor. Ultimately, what you want is a smooth gluey paste (pict. 4).
- In large mixing bowl, add in the minced pork. Season with Salt and White pepper (pict. 5) – all to taste. Stir, mix and combine well in one direction. Gradually add Tapioca flour and Ice-water to get the right consistency – a smooth sticky glossy paste.
- Now for the most important part ! Or what The VianD like to call “anger therapy”! Gather the fish paste into a ball and begin the throwing/slamming process. This will force the air out in the fish paste thus making it firmer and thus a springier fish paste. Repeatedly slam the fish paste – Oooo, I would say about 50 times or 15 minutes? Don’t laugh – this is the key to making “springy” or “bouncy” fish paste (pict. 6). *Note : What is shown here is actually a little too firm, so do add a little more ice-water, it should be a little more gluey. You can test out your paste by dropping a spoonful into boiling water. When it floats, it’s cooked! Have a taste. You can add more seasoning, chop or pound more as needed. Set aside and let it settle a little while or if U have the time, chill it for an hour or two (help for easy handling).
2. Preparing the Fish Stock :
Meanwhile, start preparing the Fish Stock. You can use this as your base soup to serve your “Yong Tau Foo” like what you would normally get from outside establishments. But in this case, The VianD use it to prepare the braising sauce – U’ll see how this dish is being served in a rather different way. Set the Stock aside.
- Saute some Ginger slices, smashed Garlic and a few stick of 2-inches long Scallion till aromatic. Add in the Fish head, skin and bone and saute till lightly brown (pict. 1). Add water, bring to boil on high heat and then turn the heat low and simmer for an hour or so. Sieve the Stock and you should get a bowl of aromatic flavourful Fish Stock (pict. 2).
3. Preparing the Fried Beancurd Sheets/Rolls :
Slightly dampen some Dry Beancurd sheets by wiping them with a wet towel.
- Beancurd Sheets – cut into 3-inch square size. Simply smear some of the paste on one piece of the sheet, apply Cornstarch water to all four sides and then cover it with another piece of Beancurd sheet. Press firmly (pict. 1).
- Beancurd Rolls – cut into 3×5-inch rectangle size. Spoon some of the paste on one end of the sheet, apply Cornstarch water to the sides and roll the up firmly (pict. 2&3). Press the end firmly to close up the Rolls.
4. Stuffing the rest of the Condiments and Fishballs :
The VianD will not demonstrate how to stuff each Condiment but just explain in text. If the fish paste is chilled, bring it to room temperature. Prepare a small bowl of salted water – use this to clean up the edges and smoothen out the fish paste of the stuffing. Use a small butter knife to do the stuffing. The amount of paste to use varies, generally Chili, Okra and Brinjal require more filling. It’s important not to overstuff as they may tear/break during frying.
- Chilli and Okra – Slit in the center. Use the end of a spoon to dig/remove out the seeds and stem. Stuff the paste into the cavity, making sure the fillings are full (but not too much) and firm.
- Tofu – Make a small slit in the middle and be careful not to break it up. Add stuffing gently. For easy stuffing, U can gently dig out a little of the Tofu flesh leaving a small indentation for the filling.
- Tofu Pok – Simply split the Tofu Pok into half and stuff it.
- Brinjal – Cut diagonally into 1-inch thick pieces. Slit the center to create a pocket and spoon in the stuffing.
- Fishball – Prepare a pot of Saltwater. To form fish balls, wet your palm and put a handful of the paste in your palm. Then make a circle with your index finger and thumb. With your other fingers squeeze the fish paste through the hole. When it’s the desired size, then squeeze your thumb and index finger together to close the hole and slice off the ball with a spoon. Drop the ball into the pot of Saltwater (pict. 1). To cook, simply drop it into a pot of boiling water (pict. 2), when they float, it’s cooked.
5. Shallow Frying The Stuffed Condiments :
The best way to do this is with a non-stick Pan. Heat up the Pan with about 1/2 inch of oil to medium heat. Pan fry in batches, with the meat side down – till golden brown. You may need to use a pair of chopstick to hold the pieces in place. Drain oil by placing in colander or paper towel.
6. Quick Braising – The Final Process :
In a pot or a wok, sauté the sliced Onion, Ginger strips and smashed Garlic until fragrant (pict. 2). Move everything aside, add a little more oil and add in the Taucu paste – saute till aromatic (pict. 3), followed by the Fish Stock (prepared earlier) and bring to boil. Add the Sauce seasoning – as listed in the Ingredients Section (pict. 5). Add the fried Yong Tau Foo, Scallion and Chilli (pict. 6). Let it simmer for a few minutes. Dish the braised Yong Tau Foo and serve.
VianD Twist & Tricks
- Patience is key to preparing this dish, especially the stuffing part.
- While doing the Quick Braising, DO NOT STIR OR DISTURB the Condiments too much, else the stuffing will fall off !!!
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