Yong Tau Foo

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Yong Tau Foo
Yong tau foo sweet.jpg
Main ingredient(s) Tofu, meat paste (fish and pork)
Yong Tau Foo
Chinese 釀豆腐
Literal meaning "stuffed bean curd"

Yong tau foo ( also spelled yong tao foo, yong tau fu, or yong tau hu yong tofu; yen tafo in Thailand) is a Chinese soup dish with Hakka origins commonly found in China, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. There are also Teochew and Hokkien variations.

Essentially the dish originated in the early 1970s in a restaurant called "Chow Kuan" located at Ampang pasar Selangor as tofu stuffed with a meat paste of fish and pork, thereby earning the dish its name "Yong Tau Foo", which means "stuffed bean curd." Since then all variety of vegetables and even fried fritters have been similarly stuffed, and the name Yong Tau Foo has thus been used liberally to apply to foods prepared in this manner.

Yong tau foo is essentially a clear consomme soup containing a varied selection of food items, including fish balls, crab sticks, bittergourds, cuttlefish, lettuce, ladies fingers, as well as chilis, and various forms of fresh produce, seafood and meats common in Chinese cuisine. Some of these items, such as bittergourd and chili, are usually filled with fish paste (surimi). The foods are then sliced into bite-size pieces, cooked briefly in boiling broth and then served either in the broth as soup or with the broth in a separate bowl. The dish is eaten with chopsticks and a soup spoon and can be eaten by itself (served with a bowl of steamed rice) or with any choice of egg or rice noodles, or bee hoon (rice vermicelli). Another variation of this dish is to serve it with laksa gravy or curry sauce. Essential accompaniments are a spicy, vinegary chili sauce, originally made with red fermented bean curd and distantly similar in taste to Sriracha sauce, and a distinctive brown sweet bean sauce or hoisin sauce for dipping.

In Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, the Malay Muslims have taken to yong tau foo in a big way. As pork consumption is prohibited for Muslims, halal yong tau foo is generally soy based or stuffed vegetable fritters or steamed bean curd with fish paste stuffing. To prepare the dish, these, a steamed rice-flour roll (similar to that used for chee cheong fun) and a vegetable called kangkong are boiled to heat and soften them. The food items are drained and eaten with sprinkled toasted sesame seeds, chili sauce and a hoisin based sauce. Another version commonly found in Perak state is the soup type where the food items are served in a broth and provided with chili sauce and hoisin based sauce dipping. Halal yong tau foo is normally sold by Malay vendors at night markets (pasar malam) and at halal food courts by non-Muslim vendors.

Hakka Yong Tau Foo[edit]

Hakka Yong Tau Foo

This version, which the Hakka claim to be the original, consists of tofu cubes heaped with minced meat (usually pork and fish) and herbs, then fried until golden brown, or sometimes braised. Variations include usage of various condiments, including eggplants, shiitake mushrooms, and bitter melon stuffed with the same meat paste. Traditionally, yong tau foo is served in a clear yellow bean stew along with the bitter melon and shiitake variants.

See also[edit]