Yong Tau Foo is one of the popular Hakka Chinese dish made by stuffing meat and/or fish paste in tofu and vegetables such as bitter gourd, okra, peppers, eggplants, mushrooms, etc. It can be served in soup or dry with a sweet bean sauce.
SINGAPORE HAKKA YONG TAU FOO
Yong tau foo is a Hakka Chinese food, which literally means “stuffed tofu” Fish and/or meat paste is stuffed in tofu and bean curd skin, and hence the name. They are then deep-fried and served with soup. In Medan where I grew up, this is how they serve yong tau foo and they add fish balls, and bitter gourd stuff with fish paste. Even though it is said stuffed tofu, but tofu isn’t the only thing used to stuff with meat/fish filling.
In Singapore, the varieties of vegetables stuffed with meat or fish paste are even more. There are bitter gourd, okra (ladys’ fingers), large chili peppers, and eggplants. They can be served with soup or dry with the soup on the side and with some sweet sauce. The version I’m showing here is more of a Singapore Hakka yong tau foo both dry version and soup version.
FILLING FOR HAKKA YONG TAU FOO
Some people use a fish paste only to make yong tau foo, but actually, a mixture of ground pork and fish paste can be used. My kids like the combination of pork and fish. The meat fish paste filling is very simple to make. You only need ground pork, fish paste (store-bought), cornstarch, salted fish (or substitute with fish sauce), and seasonings.
VEGETABLES TO USE
I used bitter gourd, Chinese eggplant, okra, shiitake mushrooms, large red chilies, and tofu. I couldn’t find any fried bean curd skin at the time I made this. Usually those two are commonly used to make yong tau foo as well.
STEAM OR PAN-FRIED YONG TAU FOO. YOU CHOOSE!
Most of the time, the yong tau foo items are deep-fried, but it’s not like anything is set in stone. You can steam or pan-fry them. In the video I pan fried all of the stuffed veggies and tofu
HOW TO MAKE HAKKA YONG TAU FOO
STEP ONE: PREPARE THE SOUP
SOUP: Use homemade or store-bought chicken broth and then add anchovies (ikan bilis) and soybeans and simmer for about 30 minutes. Strain the soup and discard the solid. Season with salt,pepper, and sugar to your taste
STEP TWO: PREPARE THE FILLING
I use store-bought fish paste and ground pork. Mash the salted fish if using. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to mix everything. Cover and chill in the refrigerator while you are preparing other things. You can prepare this the day before too
STEP THREE: PREPARE THE VEGGIES
Soak the shiitake mushrooms in warm water until plump. Cut the bitter gourd into 1-inch rings and discard the seeds in the middle. Slice the okra into half vertically and clear the seeds. Hollow out some of the tofu pieces (you can add the tofu into the filling to avoid waste). Cut the eggplant into about 1/2-inch slices
STEP FOUR: FILL THEM UP
Use a spoon or table knife to scoop some filling to fill up the vegetables. Make sure you kinda overfill them a bit as they will shrink when cooked and get dislodged from the veggies. For eggplant, smear the filling on one piece of eggplant and then sandwiched with the other piece
STEP FIVE: COOKING
Steaming: Arrange the yong tau foo items on a steaming plate and then steam over high heat for 15 minutes or until the veggies are soft (not mushy) and meat is cooked through
Pan-frying: Pan fry all the items over medium to high heat until they are cooked through in batches. Some vegetables take a bit longer than the other to cook
STEP SIX: PREPARE THE SOUP
SWEET SAUCE: Stir fry the minced garlic for about 30 seconds
Add water, followed by ground bean sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar. Stir until the sugar melted.
Thickened with cornstarch solution
HOW TO SERVE HAKKA YONG TAU FOO (2 WAYS)
SOUP VERSION: Arrange pieces of yong tau foo items in a bowl. Generously ladle the hot soup over them. Garnish with green onion
DRY WITH SWEET SAUCE: Arrange pieces of yong tau foo items in a bowl. You can serve the sauce on the side or drizzle them on top of the yong tau foo. Your call! You can also make the sauce not as thick if you like it a bit runnier.
I love both soup version (which is the version I grew up eating) and the dry version with sweet sauce (which is one of my favorite Singapore’s food)
HOW TO MAKE AHEAD AND STORE YONG TAU FOO
Yong tau foo can be made ahead and then freeze in the freezer. Simply place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, not touching each other and freeze for about 1 hour and then transfer to freezer bag or container and they won’t stick to each other anymore. When ready to cook, you don’t need to thaw if you plan to steam them. If you want to pan fry, I suggest to thaw them in the fridge before pan frying.
I’m pretty good at balancing this yong tau foo don’t you think? LOL!
DID YOU MAKE THIS HOMEMADE HAKKA YONG TAU FOO RECIPE?
I love it when you guys snap a photo and tag to show me what you’ve made 🙂 Simply tag me @WhatToCookToday #WhatToCookToday on Instagram and I’ll be sure to stop by and take a peek for real!
Hakka Yong Tau Foo (Soup and Dry Versions)
- 400 gr ground pork
- 400 gr fish paste use store-bought fish paste
- 20 gr salted fish or substitute with 1 Tbsp fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp corn starch
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
Vegetables (you can use whatever you want):
- 5 -6 tofu puffs
- 1 large block of firm tofu if not using tofu puffs
- 2 medium Chinese eggplant
- 2 large bitter gourd
- 12 okra (lady's finger)
- 10 large shiitake mushrooms soaked until soft if using dried
- 6 large red chilies
- Cooking oil for pan-frying
- 1 stalk green onion finely chopped
Preparing the soup (if serving with soup):
- Place the chicken stock in a medium pot. Bring to a boil. Add the anchovies and soy beans. Bring back to a boil and then lower the heat to let it gently simmer for the next 30 minutes. Turn off the heat. Strain and discard solid. Season with salt and sugar to your taste
Prepare the sweet sauce:
- Preheat a small sauce pan. Add cooking oil. Stir fry the minced garlic for about 30 seconds, add water, followed by ground bean sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar. Stir until the sugar is melted. Have a taste. The sauce is sweet and savory. Give the cornstarch solution a stir and then pour in and continue to stir until the sauce is thickened
Preparing the filling:
- I use store-bought fish paste and ground pork. Mash the salted fish if using. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to mix everything. Cover and chill in the refrigerator while you are preparing other things
Preparing the veggies:
- Soak the dried shiitake mushroom in warm water until soft. Remove the stems. Cut the firm tofu in 12 pieces. Use a small spoon to scoop out the middle of each piece (be careful not to tear it apart). Save the tofu that you scoop out. You can mince it up and mix it into the meat/fish paste. Set aside
- Cut both ends of bitter gourd off and then slice into 1 -inch ring. Use your thumb to push out the seeds in the middle of each ring and discard the seeds. Slice the okra and chilis in half lengthwise and scoop the seeds out. Slice the eggplants into 1/2 inch pieces at an angle
Stuffing the filling:
- Use a spoon or table knife to scoop the filling. Kinda overstuff the meat a little bit to the side and at the top, because the meat paste will shrink when you cook it and it looks nice because it fills up the hole nicely and firmly
Pan fry the veggies:
- Preheat a skillet with about 1 Tbsp of oil. Pan fry the veggies batches by batches until they are golden brown and cooked through. Each veggies will cook at different time. I suggest to brown them and then cover with a lid to "steam" cook them (as shown in the video). They cook faster this way
Serving soup version:
- When ready to serve, arrange pieces of yong tau foo items in a bowl. Generously ladle the hot soup over them. Garnish with green onion
Serving dry with sweet sauce:
- Arrange pieces of yong tau foo items in a bowl. You can serve the sauce on the side or drizzle them on top of the yong tau foo. Your call!