1. Food
Bean Curd Bounty
Use these different types of bean curd to vary your repertoire of tofu dishes
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Bean Curd Recipes
Part I: Terrific Tofu
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• Dom's Cultured Food of Asia
• A Westerners Introduction to Stinky Tofu

by Rhonda Parkinson

  • Tofu Puffs
    These are golden squares of bean curd that have been deep-fried.  You'll find them in cellophane bags in the refrigeration section of Asian markets, sold under a variety of names, such as Bean Kow or Bean Curd Puffs or Tofu Puffs.  Deep-frying makes them very chewy.

    The beauty of deep-fried bean curd is that it becomes super absorbent.  That's why tofu puffs are popular in stews (it's best to briefly blanch them before using to remove excess oil).  However, I confess I have an addiction to eating them right out of the bag.  Other people indulge in slices of cheese or a carton of ice cream during their midnight raids at the refrigerator - I devour tofu puffs.  At least it's healthier! Storage: Keeps refrigerated for several days

  • Preserved Bean Curd
    Forget everything you've heard about tofu tasting bland: preserved bean curd has a pungent aroma similar to strong cheese.  Not surprisingly, its nickname is "Chinese cheese."  Also known as fermented or wet bean curd, preserved bean curd consists of cubes of bean curd that have been fermented in rice wine.  It is sold in glass jars in Asian markets. My favorite variety is red preserved bean curd, made with fermented red rice.  Preserved bean curd comes with a variety of seasonings, from chilies to sesame oil. 

    Preserved bean curd is frequently served with rice and is a popular addition to congee, but you can also add it to stir-fries and braised dishes.  I took a tip from Dom's Cultured Food of Asia site and tried some spread on toast with sesame seeds sprinkled over.  I found it a bit overpowering for breakfast, but you might want to try it. Storage: Keep refrigerated for several months

  • Dried Bean Curd Sheets and Sticks
    Also called bean curd skins or Chinese yuba, these are made from the skin that forms on soymilk when it is heated.  Dried bean curd comes in many shapes - the sheets and sticks are two of the more common ones. The sticks resemble yellow icicles, while bean curd sheets are flat squares.  Normally dried bean curd is reconstituted prior to using, unless it is being simmered or the dish is meant to be quite crispy. My favorite dish is vegetarian bean curd rolls, where the sheets are simmered in seasoned water in the wok, and then wrapped with seaweed. Storage: Keep in a cool place indefinitely.

  • Pressed Seasoned Bean Curd 
    If the idea of draining a block of regular tofu to make it more absorbent - and thus flavorful - doesn't appeal to you, try this convenient alternative.  The bean curd has been pressed and simmered in water with five-spice powder and other ingredients.  Just slice and stir-fry or add to soups - it's firm enough to hold its shape in any type of dish. Storage: Keeps refrigerated for about 1 week.

This Week's Recipes...
Bean Curd Rolls with Seaweed  - nori, the seaweed used in sushi, is wrapped in marinated bean curd sheets
Fried Mock Oyster  - made with bean curd sheets and mashed firm tofu
Vegetarian Ham - an appetizer roll made with bean curd sheets
Spicy Tofu Stir-fry - made with pressed tofu
Vegetarian Country Stew - tofu puffs soak up savory sauce in this hearty dish
Vegetarian Eight Treasures - a spicy dish made with pressed tofu, vegetables and hot bean sauce

**New to the Chinese Cuisine Site? You'll find a complete guide to help you find your way around here.  

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Tofu Puffs Photo copyright 2002 by Rhonda Parkinson

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