Today is International Women's Day. To all female readers, all best wishes to you for health, family, career and whatever pursuits that are close to your hearts. On this day, there is the tradition of giving bright yellow Mimosa flowers to women as as a sign of respect and an expression of solidarity with women worldwide. Kochtopf and fiordisale invited bloggers to cook or bake something yellow to mark this special day.
I decided to post a recipe for fried tofu puffs as my entry. It is yellow, for one. It is one of the food I miss most from home, so it's no hardship making and eating it! And it also reminds me of my mother who would make this dish for the family as everyone loves it. This is quite a labour intensive dish as it requires each tofu puff to be slit open, flipped inside out and then stuffed with fish paste. The deep frying is also not the most fuss-free cooking. But the result is worth all that effort. Like many Chinese or Asian parents, my mum is not the demonstrative sort (verbally or physically). Instead of saying 'I love you' or giving us hugs every day, practical acts such as the work that goes into making or favourite dishes is a demonstration of her love for us.
Yong tau foo (酿豆腐) is a popular dish in Singapore and Malaysia. It literally translates as 'stuffed tofu' (firm tofu) although other ingredients such as okra/ladies fingers, chillies, peppers, eggplant/aubergine and tofu sheets are also used. They can be fried or cooked in a soup. In this case, I have used fried tofu puffs and for that extra crunch, I have turned them inside out so that the fluffy insides are exposed and become superbly crunchy when fried. This was a trick that my mother taught me.
The filling is made of fish paste. Some vendors use purely fish, some add minced pork and others add chopped up prawns. The Hakka version of yong tau food has the distinctive ingredient of bits of salted fish in the filling. The fish paste is easily available in supermarkets and at some fishmongers' in Singapore and Malaysia. You may be able to find them in a Chinese supermarket or Chinatown. I have no such luck so I had to make the fish paste from scratch... Just as well that it's not exactly diet food (being deep fried) since it's too much work to make often!
Ingredients (makes around 20):
Fried tofu puffs (available from Asian supermarkets)
300g skinless and boneless white fish, cut into small cubes (mackerel is traditional but you can also use haddock, pollock or other white fish)
1/2 tsp salt mixed with 4 tbsp water
A dash of white pepper
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp cornflour
1. Place the fish in a blender and puree into a paste, adding the salt water slowly. Empty out into a bowl and mix in the white pepper, sesame oil and cornflour.
2. Make a slit in one side of each tofu puff (with a knife or tear with fingers) and carefully turn them inside out. You can skip the inside-out step for the more common version. It will be less crispy but still delicious. Stuff each tofu puff with fish paste and press the openings to seal.
3. Heat a deep pan or wok of vegetable oil until hot. To test for the right temperature, a cube of bread should become golden and float to the top in a few seconds. Or you can stick some bamboo chopsticks or a wooden skewer into the oil. If bubble start to appear from the chopsticks/skewer, the oil is ready. Deep fry the tofu puffs until they are golden. If you use less oil like me, make sure they cover at least halfway up the tofu puffs. Turn them halfway through to cook thoroughly. Drain on kitchen paper and serve hot. I served mine with a Thai sweet chilli dip.