Spinach with Fermented Beancurd

This recipe may fall under the “I’ll try anything once, twice if I like it” category – it calls for an odd ingredient called fermented beancurd (furu), which comes in spicy and bland varieties. Before you read on and say, “Ewww,” just remember how bleu cheese is made. Fuchsia Dunlop writes that it is

…an essential relish with a pungent, cheesy flavor and a creamy texture. It is made by covering firm bean curd in dry rice straw and leaving it to mold for a couple of weeks. The molded curd is cut into cubes, mixed with strong liquor, salt, star anise, and chili flakes, and packed into pickling jars for at least a month to mature.

Gloria Bley Miller simply calls it “Chinese white cheese.” (The chili version is reddish.) If you have an Asian market nearby, you will be able to find it – if not, you’re probably out of luck unless you want to try your hand at making it and happen to have dry rice straw on hand. Besides cooking with it, we also use it as a condiment for steamed buns (mantou) – the kids just call it “salty tofu” – and Dunlop claims it’s tasty spread on toast. Store the fermented tofu in the refrigerator, making sure that it is completely covered with its liquid – if there is not enough liquid, add enough oil or sesame oil to cover.

ingredients:

  • 1 lb spinach or water spinach
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1-2 cubes of fermented beancurd
  • 2 T water
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 T oil

method:

  1. Soak the spinach in cool water, then remove, allowing the grit to remain in the bowl or sink. Repeat this until no grit remains. If you are using water spinach, remove the stems and reserve for another dish. Drain the leaves, allowing some water to cling to them.
  2. In a small bowl, mash the beancurd into a thin paste with the water, sugar, and salt.
  3. Heat a wok over medium-high heat, then add the oil, just until it shimmers. Explode the garlic just until fragrant.
  4. Add the spinach and stirfry only until wilted.
  5. Add the beancurd paste and stirfry quickly until it is well mixed in and coats all the vegetable.
  6. Adjust the seasoning and serve.
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One Response

  1. Ummm, will have to try this. I’ve seen both yellow and red varieties at my asian market and wondered how to use fermented bean curd. Thank you.

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