Soy Braised Dishes and Braising Tau Kwa

Monday, January 18, 2021

With CNY round the corner, I thought I should start blogging a bit more actively again. Actually I am doing this more for my own sake as blogging, like journaling, help me to keep track of my cooking journey. 

I will be releasing a few post on braising recipes. For the CNY table, if you are a Sinma person, you are likely to be braising a dish or two. 

When you think about it, Soy Sauce Chicken, Braised Duck ("lor ark"), Dong Po Pork, Braised Pork Trotter, Braised Pork Knuckles (Yin Tai), Toyu Bak etc uses the same ideas or techniques of soy sauce braising. 

The thing I like about these recipes is that they always come with a company of side dishes. Along with the braised meat, you can use the same sauce to braise Tau Kwa ("hard" tofu), hard-boiled eggs, mushrooms, peanuts and so on. They fill up the dining table nicely for a family dinner evening. Add some chilli sauce or sambal belachan and fresh cucumber or lettuce to complete the dinner. And rice of course. You won't need much else. 

Master your braising dishes and you will have a plethora of recipes to work with.  

For starters, you do need to use good soy sauce. I have tried various types here. Unless you are willing to pay more for a good local one like Kwong Woh Hing's (it is really good), my favourites sauces are those from Malaysia. They are good and more importantly, cheap. This way your heart won't hurt so much when you pour your soy sauce in generously for the braises. Good soy sauce brewing simply needs land and sun. Like golf, you simply must be willing to pay more if you go local. I have wrote a post describing the soy sauces I normally use. I have also mentioned how they were favoured in some blind tasting events and trumped the local brands. 

The good news is that even if you can't travel up country, you can buy their sauces online here or here.  

I have blogged aplenty about these braising recipes.  

I return to my family favourite Toyu Bak Please read up on this and also some tips here on "slow and low" braising. I will add here some notes on braising good Tau Kwa.  

By Tau Kwa I mean the firmer tofu which is suited for braising or stir-frying. If you want it firm and fresh, the supermarket variety just won't do. From the images and videos here, you na se that the tau Kwa I'm using here has a smooth texture which is a sign of freshness. You have to buy them from wet markets for those that were made in the same morning. As the seller will advise, just soak it in water in a bowl (or plastic which ain't green!) and leave it in the fridge if you are cooking it later in the day. Even if you are cooking it the next day, it should still be fresher than those which are found on supermarket shelfs. 

You braise your pork belly first of course. Scoop from the surface some of the oil onto a heated pan. Place the whole Tau Kwa gently on the pan. After about 5 minutes, scoop some sauces from the ToYu Bak into the pan. You are searing and steaming it at the same time. Drizzle some dark soy sauce and light soy sauce. Place the lid and gently braise it for about 15 minutes (check video below). After that, leave it in the sauce and heat it up again before you slice and serve.  

Trust me, if you have done it well, the sliced tau kwa will vanish in no time.  

I will be blogging other braising recipes soon. Stay tuned. 

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