|Stewed Chinese leaves with tofu|
Yesterday, at the German Christmas market in Verona, the smell of sauerkraut was everywhere. I swear my mouth was watering :)), and I really wished I could squeeze through the queuing crowd to grab a portion — o, o, if only they serve without pork sausage.
My love towards sauerkraut is all because of its similar taste to pickled Chinese leaves, which makes many northern Chinese ‘emotionally’ attached to. As I said in a previous post, when I found out that I could actually use sauerkraut as pickled Chinese leaves to cook those typical northeast Chinese winter dishes, I was over the moon, especially, you can get sauerkraut in the supermarkets anytime in the year, not like northern pickled Chinese leaves — you have to wait until winter comes. :)
I used to eat sauerkraut with my dear friend Zhenya in Manchester, she is also a big fan, and she can tell even the slightest differences between sauerkraut made in different countries. She introduced it to me as kind of pickled salad thing, I remember she used to take a big portion of it from its jar for each of us, sometimes it was too sour, we had to almost wink our eyes, but it was really nice — and it was a really nice time.
Last time, I had my first sauerkraut in hot dish — because my husband ordered a “Local specialty”, sauerkraut was served along with sausage and meat, I was able to eat part of it which did not have contact with the meat. — Really nice, and taste really similar to pickled Chinese leaves.
Now, I could not wait to have it with a traditional northeast Chinese recipe — stewed pickled Chinese leaves with frozen tofu.
Frozen tofu, sounds weird? Long long time ago, I worked as part-time in a Cantonese food takeaway in Manchester for a little while. One day the chef took out a piece of tofu from the bottom of the fridge, it was half frozen, he looked at it, shook his head, then put the frozen tofu in the bin — I was too late to save the tofu, but still told him that it was actually still good to eat, just need a different recipe, he looked at me with eyes widely open, as if I was from Mars. — Ha.. It is really one of the “highlights” in Northeast China. But it is nothing really special, just normal fresh tofu being frozen, of course, it needs to be defrosted before cooking.
My dad told me that the temperature in my hometown has already dropped to -20 degrees Celsius. So, normally northern people could just leave tofu outside the window to freeze it. Here in England, I normally buy the fresh tofu, and leave in the freezer overnight. (It has to be fresh tofu, other kinds of tofu wouldn’t work. See post update.)
|Chinese frozen tofu|
The advantage of the frozen tofu is that, after frozen, the cells are loosen, it is very good to absorb the taste in, particularly for stewing or soup based dishes.
The recipe: Pickled Chinese leaves with frozen tofu
This recipe is a super easy one, you don’t really need much seasonings, it mainly relies on the taste of sauerkraut. So many seasoning below are optional. Oh, but if you think the original sauerkraut is too sour for you, you can rinse it once or twice briefly in the cold water, but not too much, otherwise, it will lose the taste — lesson learned.
Here it goes.
Sauerkraut (I used 1/2 jar), defrosted frozen tofu (1/2 fresh tofu piece)
Ginger, spring onion, garlic, crushed chillis (optional), oil, cooking wine, salt, light soy sauce (optional), ground sichuan peppercorn (optional), MSG/vegetable/mushroom/chicken essence (optional)
1) Take out the sauerkraut, and very briefly rinse it in cold water.
2) Chop the frozen tofu into small cubes.
3) Chop a small portion of ginger, 1/2 of the spring onion, and 2-3 gloves garlic.
1) In a heated wok, pour in around 3-4 tablespoons of oil.
2) When the oil is hot enough, add in chopped ginger, spring onion and garlic, and a little pinch of crushed chilli, stir-fry them well.
3) Add in 1/2 teaspoon of ground sichuan peppercorn, and a few drops of cooking wine.
4) Then add in sauerkraut and tofu cubes, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 small teaspoon of salt, stir fry them well.
5) Add in water, just enough to cover the sauerkraut and tofu. Cover the lid, and lower down the fire, let it cook for further 10 minutes or a bit more.
6) Before taking the dish out to the plate, add 2/3 teaspoon of MSG/vegetable/mushroom/chicken essence (optional) —
O, it is difficult to explain the taste, for me, it is just so good. Try it, hope you like it too!
I like to have it with plain boiled rice or steamed bread. :)