October 17, 2010

A New Friend and Her Homey Dish: Steamed Chicken With Fermented Tofu 腐乳蒸雞

Something happened during the same week in which I published a blog entry about my birthday. It may seem insignificant to others. But to me, it carried significant weight. I checked my mails one morning before leaving for work … just to find myself getting surprised by the birthday message from Siukwan, a fellow food blogger from Hong Kong.

Surprised!? Yes, as that was totally unexpected! I was over the moon when I saw the sweet note that Siukwan had dropped me. In fact, her words made me smile for pretty much the whole morning. I appreciate all other comments nonetheless. Please don’t get me wrong; every message I’ve gotten thus far is equally meaningful.

Steamed Chicken With Preserved Tofu 腐乳蒸雞

By nature, since I don’t have much time to waste, I’m a minimalist both in the kitchen and at the dining table. I’d treat myself to some lavish home-made dishes or desserts only during weekends. When I began taking baking and cooking seriously back in 2007, I was a silent food blog reader who never really bothered to leave comments. (Haha! I was ruthless, huh?)

Mulling over those days, I realized the first blogs that I read regularly have influenced me a lot. As I didn’t own any cookbook, I relied on these bloggers heavily. Siukwan’s blog was one of them, and has been with me since mid-2008. I’ve forgotten how I stumbled upon her blog back then, though.

What pulls me back to Siukwan’s Kitchen? Friendly recipes, mouthwatering dishes that make great use of the most basic of all ingredients and seasonings, awesome styling and photography, as well as her sense of humor and witty writing. (If you can read traditional Chinese characters and understand Cantonese, I’m sure you’ll find her writing fun to read.) The simple, clean and uncluttered design of her blog is another factor, too. Her virtual kitchen gives me that warm homey feel I look forward to.

I’m a slow blogger. Retrospecting the archives, however, made me realize that I’d actually blogged about five of all the recipes I’d adapted from Siukwan’s Kitchen. They’ve been recreated over and over again in my kitchens – in northern Minnesota and Malaysia:

Cantonese steamed egg custard 鮮奶燉蛋

Fried Chicken With Lemon Sauce, Cantonese-Style 西檸煎軟雞

    Chinese-style baked spare ribs 金沙排骨

      Cantonese brown sugar "claypot" rice pudding with adzuki (red) beans 黃糖紅豆“砵仔”糕

          Steamed Chinese Black Bean Spare Ribs with Steamed Rice 豉汁排骨蒸飯

            I have yet to blog about some other recipes from Siukwan’s Kitchen, all of which I’ve tried replicating a few times. For now, retrieving from my piles of backlogs, allow me to present to you another recipe from her kitchen: steamed chicken with fermented tofu (腐乳蒸雞).

            This has become a favorite dish of mine. While Siukwan uses chicken wings, I’ve used chicken thighs, drumsticks, and even chicken breasts to prepare this dish. The whole idea of this dish works fine with just about any part of the chicken that I can lay my hands on whenever I go shopping at the neighborhood’s wet market or supermarkets. (Nonetheless, I’m aware that some people just aren’t fans of the chicken breast. This is especially true in our region, where the chicken thigh and drumstick are prized. In America, I saw quite the opposite.)

            Steamed Chicken With Preserved Tofu 腐乳蒸雞

            With just those few basic ingredients and seasonings in a Chinese kitchen, what you need to do next is marinating the fowl with the other ingredients for a while before steaming it. What a healthy way to fix a healthy dish! Compared to other chicken dishes, this particular one feels relatively “lighter.” (A meaty dish can never be described as light, huh?)

            The unique, complex and yet humble flavors of the salty fermented tofu (腐乳) accentuate the sweetness of the meat. This dish goes very well with steamed rice. My brother even slurped up the gravy in one sitting!

            Image courtesy of Wang's Oriental Food Store. I love fermented tofu. It’s an acquired taste. There are varieties to this traditional Chinese delicacy that you can choose from. I use plain “white” fermented tofu (白腐乳) for this dish. You can try experimenting with other varieties, too; however, I don’t recommend that.

            Like I said, cooking is a live science. So, eyeball and adjust things to your liking as you play along with the recipe. And before I forget, don’t skip the scallion for the slight pungency and savory touch that it brings!

            (Scroll further down for the recipe, if you’re interested in trying out this dish.)

            P.S. 小軍,現在妳知道原來這幾年來一直都有一個小粉絲默默的支持妳的靚餸。衰在我不曾想過在妳的部落格留言給妳。唉!我這個冷血動物。。。妳那天留下的祝福語打動了我。其實我舊年就已經知道妳的相公是和我在同一日慶祝“大壽”架!哈哈!無論如何,佩琳在此感激妳不斷的與志同道合的朋友們分享妳的烹飪和烘焙快樂。我亦要多謝妳默默的讀我的部落格。我又不知道要如何縮短我的馬拉松式長篇。哈哈哈!總之各有各的忙,大家要努力加油喇!若果有時間,我會來妳的廚房探妳和吃頓家常便飯架!

            Steamed Chicken With Preserved Tofu 腐乳蒸雞

            Steamed Chicken With Fermented Tofu 腐乳蒸雞
            Adapted from Siukwan’s 

            6 chicken drumettes

            1 piece preserved tofu (腐乳) – mashed
            * I use the plain “white” variety (白腐乳). *
            ¼ Tbsp brine that comes with the fermented tofu (腐乳汁)
            ¾ tsp minced garlic
            1¼ tsp cornstarch
            ½ tsp sesame oil (麻油)
            ½ tsp regular cooking oil (i.e. one that’s neutrally flavored, e.g. vegetable oil)
            1 tsp granulated sugar
            ¾ tsp salt

            Enough scallion(s) – finely chopped
            1. Wash to clean the chicken drumettes really well, and then pat dry. Now, “score” to make two or three slits over each drumette.
            2. In a big bowl, combine (A) and the drumettes together; cover and set aside to marinate for 1 hour.
              * I’ve tried marinating mine in the fridge overnight. I store the drumettes and marinade in an airtight container, or place them in a bowl or the steaming dish that I’ll be using, and cover the whole deal with cling wrap. The longer the chicken gets marinated, the tastier and more flavorful it will be. *
            3. Over high heat, bring the water in the steamer or wok to a rolling boil. Transfer the chicken and marinade to a steaming dish. Steam it over high heat, indirectly above the boiling water (say about 2 inches above), for 15~20 minutes or till the meat is cooked through. I check the meat’s doneness by poking a chopstick into the fleshiest part of any one of the drumettes – the meat is cooked when the juice from within runs clear.
            4. Remove the dish from the steamer. Yields quite an amount of gravy actually. So, you may want to pour the gravy into another vessel to serve separately. Next, sprinkle some finely chopped scallion(s) on top of the chicken. Serve immediately.


            Quinn said...

            Looks yum Pei-Lin...It is very true about the prized chicken part. Here down under, chicken breasts are so expensive, the exact opposite of Malaysia where chicken drumsticks and thighs are highly prized...

            Honey Bee Sweets said...

            Pei-Lin, I made a similar dish just last week using fermented bean curd. But mine was much wet and has gravy. Will give your version a try. Btw, Siukwan has quite an amazing blog, thanks for introducing it to us. :)

            homeladychef said...

            志同道合!爱死你了!I try to make this real soon. I try to make that 金沙骨 when i got my kitchen done, trying to instal a new wall oven. ;)

            Siukwan said...




            .....and thank you for the kindly words of Honey Bee Sweets!

            Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

            Wow Peilin, all the dishes look so yummy... Local cantonese fare that looks as good as they taste! I love fermented bean curd but am a little unsure about what to cook with it. Thanks for sharing!

            wendyywy @ Table for 2..... or more said...

            Talking about me leh, the breast hater!!! Haha!

            I don't really like fu yue, but only in stir fries, and balanced with sugar! But my brother likes few cubes of it with rice. But definately not me.
            Thanks for introducing SiuKwan to us, her blog's recipes is very interesting... but u know la, me half idiot with traditional Chinese. So, can't read everything.

            Jo said...

            PL, everything looks so, so good. I started to say I love the lemon chicken, and then went on to I love the spare ribs, then I love the rice, then I love the chicken ... and that's when I gave up - "I love everything".

            Swee San said...

            puud zhai gouuuu!! ok should try soon. when cooking and baking mojo is back :P

            Little Inbox said...

            I guess this will work for pork too. Will try it out soon. Thanks to Siukwan.

            Zoe said...

            truly very homely. I'm not very good in cooking with fermented tofu and I just use them with plain congee... Thanks for sharing this recipe.

            babe_kl said...

            so easy! will keep this recipe in mind and thanks for introducing me to another blogger!

            Hearty Bakes said...

            My dear PeiLin, everytime i looked at your bakes, the food you prepared, i wonder what i was doing at your age lol! If i have a younger bro, i will sure rope you over hehe...
            I wanna try your steamed chicken with fermented tofu, too good to be missed.

            Elin said...

            this dish looks delicious and you know what ? you are a great baker and cook . Thanks for sharing this recipe :)

            Su-yin said...

            You're right, I think it's just in Malaysia (and possibly also Singapore?) where thighs and drumsticks are the 'prized' meat. It's very different in UK/America/Aus where the healthier breast meat is always more expensive. Works well for me though, as I honestly think thigh meat is much more delicious! ;)

            pigpigscorner said...

            So many yummy recipes! I'm hopping over to her blog now to cvheck out more recipes!

            tigerfish said...

            You are featuring too many good eats in one post! I want them all :)

            HungryC said...

            I love the recipes you tried from Siukwan's blog. The problem is I can't read Chinese fr Siukwan's blog, so you'll have to try more recipes and post them up. Cant wait to try the steamed chicken recipe....the weekend seems so far off.

            Bakertan said...

            hey pei-lin,

            now I know the source of your mouth watering dishes. like you mentioned, I am one of those people who goes for chicken thigh and not chicken breast. breast meat is too dry and not tender enough.

            you are pretty good at making cantonese dishes wor. might consider making that your area of specialization for cooking (for chinese food).

            Jeanette said...

            I've never tried chicken with fermented tofu. I've only had fermented tofu with green beans and congee, so this sounds interesting.

            noobcook said...

            I really love food like this - my type of comfort food, must try it soon! Your friend's blog is full of wonderful recipes and stunning photography :)

            Angie's Recipes said...

            I wish I had some fermented tofu in the pantry now...this looks very appetizing!

            Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

            Hey, guys! Sorry for the uber late reply! Been busy and now that I'm down with fever ...

            @Quinn: That's exactly what I saw in the States. So, I rarely bought chicken breast back then.

            @Bee Bee: Actually, Siukwan's version yields a lot of gravy too. But, I scooped it out for photography purpose. Haha! Oh, it's nice to share good stuff with others. Everyone's blog is good in some ways, i.e. its unique selling points. Yours is really good, too!

            @Pei Pei: Wah, you're also renovating your kitchen? I'll visit your blog to see your dishes then. 志同道合! 我也愛死你了!

            @Siukwan: 其實住家飯都是用愛心及好料配製而成的。妳整的餸款款都好靚啊!同意妳的講法,網誌本身是用來紀錄及分享我們的歷程經驗。若不是我們彼此都寫網誌,我們也不會認識到大家及諸位廚神。哈哈哈!唔好掉眼淚。。。妳知道嗎。。。我讀完了妳給我的情書,竟然流咗眼淚,而且是在辦公室內。。。還好那時是lunch break。。。無人捉到我在哭泣。。。生活有多忙都好,大家要加油喇!勾手指尾,OK?

            Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

            Hey, guys! Sorry for the uber late reply! Been busy and now that I'm down with fever ...

            @Shirley: You haven't tried my dishes. You should do that one day when you visit me in KL. Haha! Looking at them isn't enough, need to taste them in order to prove that what I'm saying is indeed true. Haha! Hope you'll find more inspirations and ideas about what to do with the fermented bean curd. =)

            @Wendy: No worries, you aren't the only breast meat hater. There are already a few others within my house. 腐乳 is nice! However, the only 腐乳 I don't like is 上海南乳 ... Yuck! Too pungent for me. I still have one more 腐乳 dish to be blogged about, which I dunno when that will be. LOL! Eh, you still can read simplified Chinese characters. Already good enough lor! Better than my ABC dad who can't read Chinese except his own name and a few other basic ones. HAHA!

            @Jo: Haha! Maybe I shouldn't do this in the future ... I know it's torturing ... especially when I myself become a victim of the "I-love-this-and-that" dilemma. HAHA!

            Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

            Hey, guys! Sorry for the uber late reply! Been busy and now that I'm down with fever ...

            @Swee San: Aiya! Puud zai gou is damn good! Hehe ...

            @Siew Lay: Hmmm ... I think pork has a kind of taste to it whereas chicken meat's is milder. Seriously, this can be considered light, especially when it's a meaty dish. I'll hop over to your blog later to check out yours ... or whenever yours is up and running in the virtual world. Eager to know about how yours turns out though. =)

            @Zoe: You bet! Yea, I sometimes do eat fermented tofu with plain rice or congee. It's good enough like this actually. But, we can also use it in cooking and baking! Yes, you heard me right ... baking!

            Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

            Hey, guys! Sorry for the uber late reply! Been busy and now that I'm down with fever ...

            @Jessie: Hey, everyone is made to be different! Don't compare ourselves to others ... See, if I compare myself to you, I'd have to admit that I can stitch/sew for nuts! HAHA! OK, I'll take it as a compliment. I'm sure if you ever have a brother, he'll be just as good as you are. By that time, he'd become the target of many other ladies! HAHA! Btw, hope you'll like this simple and healthier dish. =)

            @Elin: LOL! You know what, you're a great baker and cook too! Let's learn from each other. =)

            @Su-yin: Yea, with confirmation from a Singaporean friend of mine, you're right on that thighs and drumsticks are prized in these two countries. Honestly, I always thought that breast meat is more expensive because it often comes boneless; therefore, friendlier to be eaten. HAHA! I'd never thought of the health factor. LOL! Thigh meat is delish, breast meat, when used properly, isn't too shabby too.

            Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

            Hey, guys! Sorry for the uber late reply! Been busy and now that I'm down with fever ...

            @Ann: Yea, please go ahead! Siukwan's blog is very good!

            @tigerfish: I know you've always been more of a savory type of person. HAHA!

            @Ivy: Well, I still have a few others that I've tried out but have yet to be blogged about. Yea, the recipes she has shared are good! That's why I love her blog. Hmmm ... Weekends always seem so far off for working people like us ... even for a an almost-bed-ridden me who is on medical leave ... Sigh ...

            Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

            Hey, guys! Sorry for the uber late reply! Been busy and now that I'm down with fever ...

            @Zhuoyuan: I don't mind both chicken breast and thigh. I think what that makes a difference is the way they are used. When used properly, breast meat isn't too shabby too. This is one thing I ask of myself to master while I'm alive: preparing Cantonese dishes. I'm Cantonese leh ... so hor, it's a minimum requirement I've imposed on myself. However, I don't mind trying out other regional Chinese cuisines too.

            @Jeanette: You mean stir-frying green beans with fermented tofu!!?? Doesn't sound bad at all ... Thank you for sharing!!! =)

            @Angie: Haha! Fermented tofu has been a must in my pantry since my college days in the States. So, it's become rather a habit of mine now. I think it's one of the most basic ingredients in a Chinese kitchen. Thanks, buddy! You've always been very encouraging. =D

            Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

            @Wiffy: Hope you'll like the recipe/dish! Yea, just like yours, her blog is packed with good recipes and stunning food shots!

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