You want to know what’s the most time consuming this in this tofu dish? It’s frying the tofu actually, so if you can buy already fried tofu cubes from your nearby grocery, or better yet, if you live in Indonesia, and your street food seller is selling fried tofu, go grab some to make this tofu in spicy soy bean sauce in under 15 minutes!
If, like me, you prefer to prepare your own fried tofu cubes, you can still go about it the easy way by making a big batch of “fried” tofu with your oven. Alternatively, the old fashion way of deep frying tofu cubes will always work, though a bit much of work in my opinion. Or, if oven is out of the question, and you are not up to deep frying, you can always pan fry your tofu. In this recipe, I am going to show you how to pan fry your tofu cubes, but you can use whichever method you want, just make sure you have some fried tofu cubes to prepare this dish.
Two other key ingredients in this dish is tauco (salted soy bean) and kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce). Most Asian grocery should carry these items, but you can also buy them from Amazon, but be warned that the online price is almost always more expensive. For tauco, I like the one from Yeo’s, but you can use other brand too. For kecap manis, my favorite is the one from Bango, but the one from ABC is also pretty good. Once you have everything ready, let’s go to the recipe.
If you are in the mood for some spicy dish, may I suggest giving this ayam goreng saus tauco – fried chicken in spicy soy bean sauce a try? There is two parts to this dish, fried chicken pieces, and the spicy soy bean sauce. Once you master this recipe, feel free to switch the chicken with fish, tofu, or tempeh, and I guarantee it will work with any of my suggested substitute.
For the juiciest possible result, stick with chicken thigh. That said, if all you have at home is chicken breast, it definitely will work so don’t worry too much about it. For a speedy cooking time, cut chicken thigh (or breast) into strips, and marinate with bruised (or roughly minced) garlic, lime juice, and salt. Once it has rested for 15 minutes, start preparing oil for deep frying. You can then whisk all purpose flour, tapioca starch (corn starch is okay too), and salt. Dump the chicken into the flour mixture and coat really really well, there shouldn’t be any liquid at all at this stage. Fry chicken until golden brown and set aside.
Tauco and Terasi/Belacan
Some of the key ingredients for this delicious sauce is tauco (salted soy beans) and terasi/belacan (shrimp paste). The links I provide are for products that should be available in your Asian market, such as Marina or 99 Ranch. Of course, you can always buy from Amazon, but the price is more expensive online. Another ingredient that you may consider getting online is Indonesian bay leaves (Indonesian: daun salam). You cannot substitute regular bay leaves with Indonesian bay leaves, and if you cannot get them, my suggestion is to omit from the recipe.
Spicy Soy Bean Sauce
Once you have all the ingredients for the sauce together, first, make the spice paste by grinding with a food processor/blender. I find that if I add a teaspoon of oil into my food processor along with the ingredients, the blended paste is much smoother. To prepare for the spicy soy bean sauce, simply fry the spice paste, lemongrass, and Indonesian bay leaves until fragrant. Add tauco, sugar, mix well, then add water and bring to a boil. Once the sauce is reduced and look slightly dry, add fried chicken to the pan and toss to coat well. It is best to serve this dish hot with some steamed white rice.
Ayam suwir (shredded chicken) is one of Indonesian favorite comfort food. The idea is to poach one whole chicken, or in the US, just a pair of chicken breasts since the chicken in US is humongous compared to the one back home. Then, the chicken meat is shredded and cook further in a myriad way. Today, I am going to share this easy ayam suwir tauco pedas – spicy soy bean shredded chicken recipe with you.
Let’s Get Cooking
Once you have your poached chicken, the rest is a simple stir frying job.
First, sauté the aromatics (shallot, garlic, daun salam, and galangal) over medium high heat.
Next, add chilies, tauco, shredded chicken, all the seasonings and water/stock. Simply cook until liquid is almost dry and you have yourself an ayam suwir dish.
If you want an even easier approach, get a rotisserie chicken, and use that instead of poached chicken. The rotisserie trick makes this simple dish even simpler, and to be honest, the taste is even better.
When you want something quick (30 minutes), easy, delicious, and healthy to boot, you may want to give this soy bean paste fish a try. This soy bean paste sauce is one of my favorite sauce, and if you are like me, you will want to pair it with everything, from fried tofu cubes, to something heavier such as bite size fried chicken.
Choosing your fish and how to pan fry fish fillet
Red snapper, rock fish, swai, cod, grouper, halibut, and tilapia are some of my favorite white fish fillet for pan frying. As long as the fish fillet of your choice has firm flesh, it should be good. If white fish is not your favorite, you can even use salmon or trout fillet. Whichever fish fillet you choose, be sure to pat them dry with paper towel, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and dust with all-purpose flour (or cornstarch for gluten-free option).
Salted soy beans (tauco)
The key ingredient for making soy bean paste fish is salted soy beans. We call this tauco in Indonesia. You can find salted soy beans in most Asian market, and sometimes they are also called fermented soy beans. I typically go either with Yeos salted soy beans, or Dragonfly fermented soy beans. You can use other brands, but try to select the ones with whole soy beans, not the ones with ground soy beans.
Curry leaves (or kaffir lime leaves)
Another key ingredient is curry leaves. Stores that only sell East Asian (Chinese, Korean, Japanese) and Southeast Asian fares (Indonesian, Singaporea, Malaysian, Thai, Vietnamese, e.t.c.) are usually not a good place for fresh curry leaves. It is better to try Indian or Middle Eastern markets for some fresh curry leaves. I usually buy them in bulk, as in I buy half a gallon worth of zip lock bag of curry leaves, then freeze them. Curry leaves can last for months and months when frozen like this. If fresh curry leaves is not something that is easy to come by, you can substitute with kaffir lime leaves.
Many of Chinese soups that my Mom regularly have in her rotation are very simple, and this bean curd and shiitake pork ribs soup is one such example.
Despite its simplicity, this soup is delicious and is also healthy thanks to the inclusion of bean curd, shiitake mushrooms, and jujube/Chinese red dates. Best of all, this is another soup that you can just dump and simmer away, which is ridiculously easy to prepare on busy days.
What you need to prepare Chinese bean curd and shiitake pork ribs soup
The only meat you need is some pork ribs, and you can choose to use boneless pork ribs, or the one with bones attached. Both types will work, but the one with porks will usually give a richer soup, while using boneless pork ribs will give you a lighter version, so choose accordingly.
As for the Chinese herbs, you will need the following ingredients:
All three ingredients should be easily available in any Chinese grocery stores. You can always get them from Amazon following my links, though the prices are usually cheaper in a brick and mortar shop.
Start soaking the dried ingredients ahead of cooking time
Since we are using many dried ingredients, I usually start the prep work the night before I plan to cook the soup.
I place each of the dried ingredients in separate bowls and pour enough cold water to submerge them by one inch and leave them to soak overnight. They should all be rehydrated and ready to use the next day.
Also, remember to save the shiitake soaking water, you can strain the soaking water to remove impurities and use it as part of the 2 liters of water that you need for the soup for a boost in umami. It’s free anyway.
Those are all my pointers to help you with preparing this soup. I hope you will like it as much as I do. 🙂
Chinese, especially Cantonese cuisine, has so many delicious sweet/dessert soup. These soups are usually easy to prepare and super healthy. Some of these are vegan-friendly too, which is exactly the case for this bean curd, ginkgo nuts, and barley sweet soup (腐竹白果薏米糖水).
This soup has a special place in my life because my Mom prepared it for me on my wedding day. I’ll explain everything in detail so you will be able to replicate this dessert soup in your own home.
Chinese ingredients you will need to prepare this sweet soup
For this specific sweet soup, you will need dried bean curd sheet, gingko nuts, pearl barley/job’s tear barley, pandan leaves, rock sugar, and eggs.
Dried bean curd sheet (腐竹)
Dried bean curd is sold in two versions, stick version and sheet version. Please buy the sheet version.
You can still use the stick version, but since they are so much thicker compared to the sheets, you must soak bean curd sticks in cold water until soft before using, and the cooking time will most likely be longer to get to desired softness.
Prepping bean curd sheets: Wipe them gently with a clean kitchen cloth or give them a quick rinse under running water to remove any dirt, then break into smaller pieces before cooking.
Ginkgo nuts (白果)
I spotted two types of fresh ginkgo nuts being sold in my Asian market, a vacuum-packed version and fresh nuts still in their shells.
I use the vacuum-packed version, but you can use those still with shells. Just know that you will need to crack the shells and remove the brown skins from individual nut if you go with this version.
Prep: see the next section for a detailed explanation on how to prepare ginkgo nuts prior to cooking.
Pearl barley/job’s tear barley (薏米)
This is not the same as regular barley. Your Chinese market should have this. Or if you have a Japanese market near you, this is known as hato mugi in Japanese.
Prep: soak the barley for one hour in cold tap water prior to cooking.
You may spot them either fresh in the produce section, or frozen in the freezer section.
Prep: knot the leaves so they are easy to remove once cooked.
All traditional Chinese sweet soup is sweetened with rock sugar. You can use regular sugar, brown sugar, or even honey/maple syrup if you wish.
Preparing ginkgo nuts
Ginkgo nuts are technically not nuts, but rather, seeds of the ginkgo tree. They have tough white shells and need to be cracked to reveal the yellow meat inside. To me, they look like a tiny rugby ball or American football, which is quite cute. 🙂
The yellow meat contains a small seed-like core, which is super bitter if not removed. To remove the core, please do the followings:
Cut each ginkgo seed in halves lengthwise.
If you spot a core, simply remove it. The reason I said “if” is because not 100% of the yellow seeds will have cores in them. 🙂
Blanch the coreless ginkgo seeds for 1 minute in hot boiling water.
Once you do all the above steps, your ginkgo nuts are ready to be used.
How to cook the sweet soup
Once all the prep work is done, we are ready to cook the soup. Here is how to do it:
Boil the barley. Place water and pearl barley in a soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook for one hour to soften the barley.
Boil the ginkgo nuts. Next, we add ginkgo nuts into the pot and continue simmering the soup for another 30 minutes.
Boil the bean curd. I typically use very thin bean curd sheets to prepare this soup, so this cook in no time at all. Add the bean curd along with pandan leaves, and continue cooking for another 15 minutes.
Add sugar. Next, add the sugar, stir until all the sugar has melted. I love dessert soup that is less sweet, so the stated amount is what I like best. If you prefer sweeter soup, feel free to add more sugar.
Add egg. Stir the soup continuously while we stream in the lightly beaten egg to create an egg drop soup effect. 🙂
And our bean curd, ginkgo nuts, and barley sweet soup are all done! Oh, and do remove the pandan leaves from the soup before serving. This sweet soup can be served hot, room temperature, or even cold. Personally, I love the hot soup version. 🙂
Other Chinese sweet soup you may want to try
If you are a fan of Chinese sweet soup, I have other recipes that you may want to try:
Chinese black bean stir-fry is one of the most classic stir-fry dishes. At its basic, all black bean stir-fry dish will call for fermented black beans, garlic, and red chilies, the rest is up to individual preference.
My recipe for chicken and black bean stir-fry will be a good reference for people who have never prepare a black bean stir-fry dish before.
Once you give this recipe a try, you can customize it to work with what you have in your kitchen. This will work with beef, pork, or fish instead of chicken. You can also use other vegetables suitable for stir-frying instead of bell pepper and celery. You can even make it completely vegetarian by using tofu or even 100% vegetables.
Ingredients for Chinese chicken and black bean stir-fry
First, to marinade the chicken, we will need chicken breast, light soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, sesame oil, and cornstarch. You can also use chicken meat for an even juicier dish.
For the aromatics, we will need garlic, ginger, onion, and red chilies.
For the seasonings, we will need fermented black beans, dark soy sauce, and chicken stock.
For the vegetables, we will need red bell peppers and celery.
And finally, we will need some thinly sliced scallions for garnish. You can also use chopped fresh cilantro if you wish.
Chinese fermented black beans (豆豉)
Chinese fermented black beans, often simply refer to as black beans, are made from cooked black soybeans fermented in salted water. This process makes the beans soft, dry, and salty.
You can think of fermented black beans as a super intense version of soy sauce, which means, any dish that incoporate these beans will get a huge umami boost.
You don’t need to use a lot these beans in any recipe. A typical four-serving recipe like this one need only about one tablespoon of the fermented beans.
You can buy fermented black beans at your local Asian/Chinese grocery store. They typically come in a plastic packaging for a few dollars.
Instead of 1 tablespoon of fermented black beans, please use 2 tablespoons of black bean sauce. The rest of the recipe stays the same.
Step-by-step guide to cooking the dish
1. Marinade the chicken
Combine chicken with cornstarch, light soy sauce, sesame oil, and Shaoxing in a mixing bowl. Set aside for 15 minutes.
2. Cooking the dish
Heat oil in a wok on medium-high heat, sauté onion and red chilies, cook until onion starts to wilt.
Add chicken, spread evenly into a layer and let it cook undisturbed for 1 minute. Then stir and cook for another minute.
Add garlic, ginger, fermented black soy bean, and dark soy sauce. Mix well. Cook for 30 seconds.
Add red bell peppers, celery, and chicken stock. Mix well. Cover the wok and let it cook for 2 minutes.
Turn off heat. Garnish with thinly sliced scallions and serve immediately with some steamed white rice.
If you want to cook a vegetarian black bean stir-fry dish, please do the following substitutions: use 1 lb (450 gram) block of firm/extra-firm tofu instead of chicken, and use vegetarian stock instead of chicken stock. Keep everything else the same.
For a better tofu dish, I always fry the tofu first until they develop a crispy skin. You can skip it if you don’t want the hassle. You can also buy pre-fried tofu cubes from most Asian/Chinese grocery stores if you don’t want to fry the tofu but prefer using fried tofu in your dish.
Orak arik is an Indonesian stir fry dish with eggs and vegetables. There are so many varieties of orak arik since this is a very versatile dish, but I will teach you how to prepare this dish with green beans and carrots.
Green beans and carrots are my favorite combination when cooking orak arik. You can use other vegetables as long as the total weight is 500 grams (slightly more than 1 pound).
If you want a more filling dish, you can use half vegetables and half protein. I highly recommend using fried tofu cubes or fish cakes/fish balls for the protein. An example of this is my orak arik tahu jamur recipe using mushrooms and fried tofu cubes.
Ingredients for Indonesian green bean, carrot, and egg stir fry
salt, pepper, and sugar
All of the above ingredients are must-haves, but there are some workable substitutes if you cannot find everything.
The best substitute for green beans is snake beans/Chinese long beans/yardlong beans.
Instead of shallots, you can also use yellow, white, or red onion.
I am using jalapenos since they are almost always available in the grocery stores. You can use Fresno chilies, serrano chilies, or even Thai bird-eye chilies if you love the extra heat. When you want to make this dish as kid-friendly as possible, you can even use bell pepper (red, orange, yellow, or green).
The main seasonings in this dish are soy sauce and fish sauce, so it is not recommended to skip these. The only good alternatives I can recommend are tamari for soy sauce and oyster sauce for fish sauce.
Step-by-step to cook Indonesian green bean, carrot, and egg stir fry
Lightly beat eggs with salt and pepper in a mixing bowl.
Heat oil in a large skillet (or a wok) on medium-high heat. Sauté garlic and shallot until fragrant for about 3 minutes.
Add carrots and green beans, stir to mix, and cook for about 1 minute.
Push the vegetables to one side, pour the beaten eggs to the empty side of the skillet/wok and stir to make scrambled eggs.
Mix the scrambled eggs with the rest of the vegetables. Season with soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and pepper. Add chilies and scallions, and mix well.
Turn off the heat and serve the stir fry immediately with steamed white rice.
Have you ever walked around the produce section of an Asian market and spotted some snake bean (Chinese long bean) and were unsure how to cook it?
Well, wonder no more because today I am sharing my easy recipe for preparing a quick stir-fry with snake bean and eggs.
This recipe is perfect when you need an inexpensive dish, but still tasty, filling, and pretty healthy.
You will only need about 20 minutes from prepping to finish cooking the dish, making this the perfect quick meal when you don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen.
What is Snake Bean (Chinese Long Bean)?
Snake bean has many names. It is also known as Chinese long bean, asparagus bean, yardlong bean, and pea bean. Indonesians know this bean as kacang panjang.
As the name implies, snake bean is quite long, ranging between 1 and 2.5 feet. The bean is usually cut into shorter sections to make it easier to cook and eat.
We harvest the beans when they are still young. The green color pods are crisp and tender, even when raw. A Sundanese vegetable salad (Karedok) incorporates fresh uncooked snake beans as one of its main ingredients.
Ingredients for snake bean and egg stir-fry
snake bean (Chinese long bean)
white pepper (or black pepper)
Fish sauce substitute
If you live in the US, fish sauce has become very easy to find in most grocery stores. I have even spotted fish sauce in Safeway, Target, Walmart, and Costco.
Any well-stocked Asian market should have at least one brand of fish sauce available. My favorite brands are Red Boat and Three Crabs, but even the cheaper Squid brand or Lucky brand is quite good if you don’t want to splurge on the pricier brands.
If you really must substitute, I recommend using the same amount of oyster sauce. The dish will still be delicious, and most people won’t even be able to tell the difference.
How to cook snake bean and egg stir-fry
Wash and drain snake beans. Chop off and discard the stalk ends, then cut the beans into 1/2 inch sections.
Heat a wok over medium-high heat. Once the wok feels hot, add oil and swirl to coat the pan.
Add minced garlic and sauté for 30 seconds, or until the color turns golden brown.
Add chopped snake beans and cook for 1 minute, stirring often.
Push the beans to one side, and pour beaten eggs into the empty spot to make scrambled eggs.
Stir the snake beans and scrambled eggs to mix, add water, and season with fish sauce, sugar, salt, and pepper. Mix well, and cook until the water has evaporated.
Turn off the heat, transfer the dish to a serving plate, and serve immediately with steamed rice.
Other easy stir-fry recipes to try
If you love quick and easy stir-fry dishes, you may want to try these recipes too:
More snake bean (Chinese long bean) recipes
I have more snake bean (Chinese long bean) recipes if you want to try even more dishes using this bean:
Bitter melon is one of the vegetables I start to like as I grow older. I was not a fan when I was still a kid, and my Mom had a tough time convincing us to eat any of her bitter melon dishes.
Any child tends to dislike bitter food, but our palette changes over time. This dislike of bitter melon at a young age is similar to coffee. I didn’t love coffee when I was a kid, but I can’t survive without it when I become an adult.
If you didn’t like bitter melons when you were a kid, you may be surprised that you now love this vegetable as an adult. I will also teach you how to reduce the bitterness from the melon so it will be easier for the palette.
Ingredients for bitter melon and egg stir-fry in black bean sauce
dried red chilies
fermented black beans
My Asian market almost always stocks fresh bitter melons. A packet usually contains two to three bitter melons. There are a variety of bitter melons, and you want to select the one you see in the photo.
The texture of bitter melon is similar to chayote or even a cucumber. The meat is crunchy, and for stir-fried dishes, we want the bitter melon to retain its crunchiness even after cooking.
Fermented black beans
The backbone of Chinese black bean sauce is fermented black beans. You can buy ready-made black bean sauce in a jar, but I think it is more economical to buy a packet of fermented black beans and make the sauce ourselves.
TIPS: If you are using bottled black bean sauce, replace fermented black beans, oyster sauce, and soy sauce with 1 tablespoon of black bean sauce.
How to prepare bitter melon to reduce its bitterness
Start by cutting a bitter melon in half lengthwise.
Use a spoon to scoop out the fibrous center and the seeds.
Cut into thin slices or as directed by your particular recipe.
Rub bitter melon with plenty of salt and rest for 15 minutes.
Rinse bitter melon under running water to remove all the salt.
The salt will reduce the bitterness from the bitter melon, but be sure to rinse them under running water to remove all the salt from the vegetable.
How to cook bitter melon and egg stir-fry in black bean sauce
I. Prep work
Follow my guide above to prepare the bitter melon.
Rinse fermented black beans with cold water to remove the salt. Drain well and set aside.
Lightly beat eggs with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Set aside.
Heat a wok with medium-high heat. Once the wok is hot, add 2 tablespoons of oil and swirl to coat the wok.
Add minced garlic, dried red chilies, and fermented black beans. Fry for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
Add bitter melon and season with soy sauce and oyster sauce. Cook for 2 minutes. TIPS: If using jarred black bean sauce, add bitter melon and a tablespoon of black bean sauce.
Pour eggs over the bitter melon. Once the eggs start to set, stir with a spatula until completely set.
Turn off the heat and transfer the dish to a serving plate. Serve immediately with steamed white rice.
Other bitter melon recipes to try
If you love this dish, you may want to try these bitter melon recipes: