Braised tofu with vegetable 瓦煲豆腐 is an authentic home-cooked dish popular among the Chinese household. It is normally braised in a clay pot which adds an earthy aroma to the dish. If you do not have a clay pot, prepare it in a large pan or the wok.
Tofu is an excellent source of protein which makes it a balanced meal even without meat. It acts as a sponge and takes on any flavor adding to it, The preparation of this recipe is easy, which can be done within thirty minutes.
This recipe contains oyster sauce. Substitute the oyster sauce with mushroom extract (marketed as the vegetarian oyster sauce) if you intend to prepare a vegetarian dish.
Let’s take a look at how to prepare braised tofu with vegetables and mushrooms in detail.
How to prepare braised tofu with vegetables
1. Choose the tofu that is soft to slightly firm.
I used the Japanese egg tofu in this recipe. You may choose other types of tofu that you like. If you use tofu that looks soft, cut it into slices carefully, then coated them with cornstarch and pan-fried in a pan. The cornstarch will form a crust to protect the tofu from breaking.
It is not necessary to coat with cornstarch if the tofu is firm enough to withstand light stirring and mixing.
Very soft tofu is not suitable for this recipe since it will break while cooking.
2. Choose the vegetables and mushrooms that you like
You can choose any types of mushroom that you like. However, Chinese dried mushrooms are nearly present in all other similar recipes.
You can use the fresh shiitake mushrooms instead of the dried shiitake mushrooms, but the dry one is more aromatic. Besides that, enoki, king oyster, button and straw mushrooms are the ideal choices. Substitute with other mushrooms available locally will not affect the outcome of this dish.
Soak the dried shitake mushrooms until they are adequately hydrated. It may take an hour or much longer, depends on the size and thickness of the mushrooms.
Cloud fungus 云耳 is another ingredients regularly included in this recipe. It looks similar to wood fungus 木耳 but is smaller and thinner. Before you use it, soak it until it is hydrated and expanded fully, then cook it like other vegetables.
Pluck away both ends of the snow peas, and pull out the tough string that runs along its side. Add the snow peas only after braising to keep it crunchy.
The combination of the vegetables is endless. You can also add baby corns, celery, bamboo shoots, cabbage and other vegetables that are in season. The various flavor from the mushrooms and vegetables will concentrate into the braising liquid, make it astonishingly delicious and enjoyable.
3. The seasonings for the braising liquid
The flavor of the braised liquid mainly derives from the shiitake mushrooms and various vegetables. The main seasoning is oyster sauce. If you want to make a vegetarian dish, use the vegetarian version of the oyster sauce which is made with mushroom extract. It has a more or less similar flavor to the oyster sauce.
Use the water to hydrate the mushrooms to braise the vegetables. This water has extracted lots of flavor from the mushrooms. It is a waste if you throw it away.
The amount of oyster and soy sauce can vary to suit your taste buds. However, always include both ingredients in the recipe when you make changes. Other seasonings are salt, sugar, ground white pepper, and sesame oil.
The cooking process
Follow the steps below once you have washed and cut all the vegetables and soak the mushrooms.
- Cut the tofu into slices or pieces of at least 1 cm thick. Smaller pieces tend to break easily.
- Pan-fried the tofu in a saucepan until it turns golden brown. Remove and set aside.
- Heat some oil in the pan to saute the garlic and sliced ginger. Once they turn aromatic, add all the shitake mushrooms and vegetables and stir fry briefly. The sequence of adding the vegetables is not critical. The only exception is not to braise the snow peas to preserve its crunchiness.
- Transfer the vegetables to a clay pot.
- Add the mushroom water and the seasonings to braise the vegetables for five minutes. I find that the vegetables will become too soft, turn mushy and dull after braising beyond ten minutes.
- You can cover the pan/clay pot, or leave it open if there is too much liquid after braising for five minutes.
- Add some cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce so that it will cling on to the vegetables. The cornstarch slurry should consist of one part of cornstarch and two parts of water. Add the slurry and mix with the vegetables in batches and discard the remaining once you get the right consistency. The sauce will be too thick and gooey if you add too much cornstarch slurry.
The mushroom and tofu will act as a sponge, soak up plenty of braising liquid which is full of flavor.
- 150g egg tofu
- 3 slices ginger
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 4 dry shitake mushrooms, soaked until hydrated
- 2 baby corn, cut into 2-3 sections
- 1/4 stick carrot, cut into thin slices
- 4 button mushrooms, cut into thin slices
- 100g broccoli, cut into florets
- 6 snow peas, remove the tough strings
- Cut the tofu into slices or pieces of at least 1 cm thick.
- Pan-fried the tofu until both sides turn golden brown. Remove and set aside,
- Saute the garlic and sliced ginger.
- Once they turn aromatic, add all the shiitake mushrooms and vegetables (except the snow peas) and stir fry briefly.
- Transfer the vegetables to a clay pot.
- Add the mushroom water and the seasonings to braise the vegetables for five minutes.
- Mix the cornstarch with some water to form a slurry. Add to the vegetables to thicken the liquid. Serve.
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Serving Size:2 servings
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 496 Total Fat: 14g Saturated Fat: 4g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 9g Cholesterol: 279mg Sodium: 1055mg Carbohydrates: 63g Fiber: 19g Sugar: 25g Protein: 35g