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What Is Yong Tau Foo?

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  • Written By: Eugene P.
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2016
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Yong tau foo is a dish from China that is eaten throughout the country and Southeast Asia. The name translates as "stuffed bean curd", although it is more generally used to describe any vegetable that has been stuffed and cooked. The stuffing for yong tau foo can be fish paste, pork and fish paste, or seafood such as shrimp that has been pureed and mixed with ground pork. The stuffed vegetables can be cooked in a variety of ways, including being boiled in a flavored broth, steamed or even pan fried. Finished yong tau foo can be served like a soup with the cooking broth, individually on a plate with the broth to the side, or with dipping sauces such as hoisin sauce or a spicy sambal.

The stuffing for the bean curd or vegetables is one of the key ingredients and helps to give yong tau foo its name. In the earliest recipes, this was a combination of pork and other seafood that was formed into a paste. Later derivations of the dish simplified this process by using commercially available fish paste or fish paste powder to make the filling. Cooks that do not use premade paste commonly use mackerel or a combination of mackerel and pork in the stuffing. Soy sauce, sesame oil, salt and pepper are generally the only flavorings added to the stuffing.

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Most recipes include chili peppers, okra and bitter gourds as the main stuffed vegetables, although other types — such as eggplants, mushrooms, zucchini or tomatoes — can be used, as well. The vegetables are either stuffed with the filling and then cooked, or chopped into small medallions after being stuffed and then cooked to create more bite-sized pieces. Depending on the amount of filling that is used and the size of the cavity in the vegetables, the density of the filling can play a part in exactly how the vegetables are prepared to ensure that everything is thoroughly cooked.

In almost all yong tau foo recipes, tofu is included as a stuffed item in the dish. These can be squares of tofu that have a slit in the side, or they can be fried tofu skins that are rolled with the filling inside. Nearly all varieties, including fermented and puffed tofu, can be used. In areas of Malaysia, the yong tau foo that is most often served is made primarily of stuffed tofu and served with sambal and the cooking broth on the side.

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