Hope you all survived the blizzard of 2015! I was lucky enough to work from home for the first time in a long time which meant a homemade, non-leftover hot lunch! I wanted to try to make a traditional Taiwanese dish called san bei ji but with tofu instead of chicken. San bei translates to “three cup” (ji means chicken), which describes the three main ingredients in the sauce: equal amounts of sesame oil, soy sauce, and cooking wine.
I followed this recipe, but since I didn’t have a clay pot, I just used a medium shallow pan, which also meant this was a one pot dish. If you don’t have rock sugar, you can probably substitute raw sugar, or in a pinch, plain white sugar.
If you can believe it, this is my first time pan-frying tofu without a coating, and I really liked how it turned out! The inside is still soft and custardy while the outside is just a little firmer. Best of all, it keeps this texture while braising in the san bei sauce and gains a whole boatload of flavor at the same time.
San Bei (Taiwanese Three Cup) Tofu (adapted from Kitty’s Home Cooking)
12 oz. package extra firm silken tofu
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 slices of fresh ginger
5 garlic cloves, smashed
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine
1 tablespoon rock sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon corn starch
A large handful of Thai basil leaves
Drain the tofu and pat dry with paper towels. Carefully slice into thick slices.
Heat a medium pan on medium high and add the vegetable oil. Pan fry the tofu slices for several minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and let drain.
Remove any excess oil in the pan and then add the sesame oil. Stir fry the ginger and garlic over low heat until fragrant. Add the soy sauce, cooking wine, rock sugar, water, and the tofu slices. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat, simmering for about 7 minutes.
Mix the cornstarch with a tablespoon of water and add to the pan. Bring the sauce to a boil again and stir until thickened. Add the Thai basil leaves and cook for another minute until wilted. Serve with white rice.
When I make this dish again, I’ll probably reduce the amount of water or increase the amount of tofu because it made a lot more sauce than I really needed. But since the sauce was so yummy, I decided not to waste it and experimented by adding it to some ramen noodles and a soft-cooked egg. The result was so much better than I could have hoped for, and I will most definitely be experimenting with san bei ramen again!
Next: Burmese Coconut Noodles with Tofu
Previously: Peanut Butter Noodles
Last Year: Grilled Cheese Egg in a Hole
Two Years Ago: Bagel Bombs, Homemade Bagels
Five Years Ago: Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Maple Cinnamon Sage Brown Butter
Six Years Ago: Xiao Long Bao, Dutch Babies