Hakka Yong Tau Foo
This is a recipe from my paternal grandparents, a humble yet delicious Hakka Yong Tau Foo deep fried in soya bean oil and then cooked in a rich broth of soya beans and kiam chye. I have never bothered to learn the recipe and thankfully my mum being the dutiful daughter-in-law took on the mantle of preparing the laborious dish for future Lunar New Year dinners.
Mum improved on the recipe and made it her own and it tasted even better than how grandpa did. I resolved to one day make it myself and to make it as easy as possible. That day is today and for the benefit of all, here’s my take on the family recipe.
Of course my rendition means I do it the way I like and so I basically only used bitter gourd and left out the tau kwa and tau pok altogether. Wanna know how? Read on.
Fish Paste (you can get this from the wet market at the stall that sells yong tau foo pieces and fish balls. Ironic, I know. For this recipe, I got $3 worth of fish paste.)
Minced Pork (lean pork but tell the butcher to run it into a minced. $3 worth again of lean minced pork.)
1/4 cup of Dried Shrimps (the more you add, the tastier it will be, so you may wanna add more.)
4 pieces of Dried Oysters (this is entirely optional if you don’t like the taste but it was part of my grandparents original recipe. My wife don’t really like, so I left them out.)
1 Bitter Gourd (cut into 1cm thickness. It might be better to cut diagonally so that the fish/meat paste doesn’t fall out during cooking)
2 pieces of Tau Kwa (optional. Cut into diagonals.)
2 pieces of Tau Pok (optional. Cut into diagonals.)
1/2 packet of Dried Soya Beans (you can buy these at NTUC and you would need to soak them overnight at least.)
2 bulbs of Kiam Chye (these are salted vegetables for the unacquainted.)
2 pieces of Preserved Salted Plums (easily purchased from the supermarket.)
1 packet of Fish Balls
Light Soya Sauce
Sesame Seed Oil
Soya Bean Oil
1. Soak the soya beans and dried shrimps overnight in a pot of water. I soaked them together because I was lazy.
2. The next day, I picked the shrimps out of the pot and threw them into bowl along with the fish paste and minced pork. Most people I know would chop the shrimps but I dropped them whole. Tastier that way. In it I mixed a little light soya sauce, a small drizzle of sesame seed oil and give it a good mix. Use your hands, the flavour is stronger. I’m kidding.
3. Boil the soya beans at high heat with the kiam chye and drop the two salted plums into the broth. You want to extract all the goodness out of these ingredients because you are gonna discard them after you have wasted them in the pot.
4. Cut the bitter gourd into 1cm thick slices. I did them wrongly as in cut them straight. But you should cut them in a slight diagonal. This will help you keep the fillings from falling out.
5. Fill the fish/minced/shrimps paste into the bitter gourd slices and coat it with a light corn flour liquid so that it would hold the fillings in the bitter gourd slices. You can make a simple corn flour mixture by mixing a tablespoon of corn flour with some water.
6. Fill a small pot with lots of soya bean oil (olive oil would be a little costly). Heat it up with big fire. Then deep fry the bitter gourd pieces until the meat fillings turn brown. If you didn’t, then maybe it won’t taste so nice.
7. Once you have fried all your bitter gourd items you can drop them into your soup pot. Remember to remove at least half of the soya beans and all of the Kiam Chye. This is to make space for the bitter gourd pieces. Boil at high heat and once it is bubbling, you may serve. You may also add fish balls if you like.
Soak soya beans and dried shrimps together
Fish paste, minced pork and dried shrimps
Cut bitter gourd into 1cm slides
Fill the bitter gourd pieces with the fish/meat/dried shrimps mixture
After deep frying the bitter gourd pieces, cook them in the soya bean and kiam chye broth