Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Asian Tofu Skin Vegetable Stir-Fry- Chai Choy

When I was young, I remember how my grandma used to make this dish on the first day of Chinese New Year. According to tradition, the first day of Chinese New Year is the day that Buddha devotees abstain from eating meat. Despite the numbers of family members who love this dish, grandma insisted on only making this dish on Chinese New Year. I guess scarcity does make it special.

When I first got married, I did not even attempt to make this dish at home. I doubt that my husband and in-laws will like it given the dish is made with Chinese preserved bean curd. I can understand why Americans won't like it as I have to confess, I only like the flavor of Chinese preserved bean curd in this dish alone and nothing else. To my surprise, my father-in-law loves it.

I remembered calling my godma in Malaysia, asking her on how to cook this dish right as she makes a very good version of the chai choy. Of course, there is no measurement on anything. All old school cooks in Malaysia, my grandma and godma included, like to use what they referred to as the "agak-agak" technique, loosely translated as approximation. If you are a vegetarian, do give this a try. Trust me, you won't miss meat at all.

Chai Choy - Tofu Skin Vegetable Stir Fry
1/2 head of cabbage, either white or napa, cut into thick pieces
8 pieces of dried tofu skin, soaked in cold water till soft then drained
1/2 cup lily bud, soaked in cold water and tied into a knot
2 small bundle mung bean noodle, soaked in cold water till soft
10 dried shitake mushrooms, soaked in cold water till soft
1/2 cup earwood fungus, soaked in cold water till soft
1 clove garlic, chopped fine (optional)
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil

2 cubes of fermented red bean curd with 2 Tablespoon of the juice
2 Tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sugar
1 cup water
black pepper to taste


Step 1: Soaked all the ingredients in cold water till soft. Drain well.

Step 2: Heat a wok with about 3 cups of canola oil in it over high heat.

Step 3: Once oil is hot enough, about 350F, begin to fry the re-hydrated tofu skin, piece by piece, till golden brown.

Step 4: Drained on a tray lined with paper towels. Set aside. You will notice that I have some tofu skin tied in a knot too. No, I didn't make it myself. I bought some from the Asian store to try. The dried knotted tofu tasted really good.

Step 5: Mashed the red bean curd and mix it with 2 tablespoon of liquid from the jar. You can find the preserved red bean curd at your local Asian grocery store.

Step 6: Heat a few tablespoon of oil in a wok over high heat. Add in the mashed bean curd and garlic. Stir till aromatic. You may want to open all windows in your house right before doing this.

Step 7: Add in the mushrooms, lily bud, earwood fungus and cabbage into the wok. Stir constantly to avoid the bean curd from burning. Cook till cabbage has slightly softened.

Step 8: Add in seasoning and tofu skin. Turn heat down to medium low. Cover wok and let simmer till tofu skin has softened, about 5 minutes. Add in mung bean noodles and let simmer till mung bean noodles has softened. Add black pepper, taste and adjust seasoning. Add more soy sauce, if necessary.

Serve warm.


  1. This is a completely new recipe for me. I will bookmark it to try as soon as I can locate the ingredients.

    PS: Thanks for visiting my blog. I intend to keep in touch.


  2. That looks great!!! Im a vegetarian and Im gonna definitely try it out..Will let you know how it turns out. Rani Chopra

  3. @Mina, Thanks for visiting my blog too. Yes, we will definitely be in touch. Now that I know an expert Indian food home cook. I have so many recipes which I would love to learn from you. Like making tosai at home with coconut chutney. Yummy!

    @Rani: I hope you will try it out. I am not a vegan but I do love vegetables. Stay tune for more recipes.