Crispy and Juicy – Pan Seared Stuffed Tofu (酿豆腐)

One of the more well known dishes from the Hakka people, stuffed tofu is a unique food that comprises of hollowing out 2-bite sized blocks of tofu and filling it with savory food. The interesting characteristic of this dish is that it uses a fragile ingredient to hold in the filling. Preparing it requires carefully scooping out pieces of the tofu without removing so much that a hole forms on the bottom. In the classic dish, the tofu is open on the end where the filling is inserted. This recipe takes it one step further by putting 2 halves together, completely enveloping the filling on the inside, which better seals the juices and flavors from the meat. The filling is pork and shrimp based, but feel free to get creative. On the outside, it looks like an ordinary cube of fried tofu, but take one bite, and you’ll discover a tasty surprise!

Ingredients (for 6 pieces):

  • 1 block firm tofu
  • Green onion
  • Ginger
  • 80g ground pork
  • 3-4 raw shrimp
  • A pinch of white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp corn starch

Directions

  1. Divide the block of tofu into 6 cubes, and halve each cube.
  2. With a knife, carefully score a square in each half, leaving around 3-4mm of wall thickness. Then, slowly scoop out the center portion and try to make the recess as square as possible. It’s very easy to scoop out too much and leave the bottom of the recess too thin, or broken through completely, so take out the tofu a little at a time.
  3. For the filling, mince the shrimp, green onion, and ginger, and add them to the ground pork along with the seasoning. Stir well in one direction only until the filling is evenly mixed and the meat forms sticky strands. You can change up the ingredients a little, but make sure to add substances that allow the filling to bond to the tofu. In this case, the shrimp paste and the corn starch help with the bonding.
  4. Fill both halves of each cube of tofu and gently press the 2 halves together. It’s recommended to overfill a little bit, because when the halves are closed, there’s filling to flow into the corners of the tofu and create a better adhesion interface between the stuffing and the tofu.
  5. Now, on medium heat, place the tofu in with one of the non-cut surfaces facing down first. Do not try to stand the tofu up on a cut surface, because the raw filling doesn’t have the strength to keep the 2 halves together. Sear for around 3 minutes, or until a light golden color forms, then flip upside down to cook the other non-cut surface. Sear for around 2 minutes, or until golden, and sear each of the 4 remaining faces for an additional 2 minutes each.
  6. Transfer to a plate and top off with your favorite sauce and some fresh scallions. Now you have a dish that’s sure to surprise and impress your friends and family.

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