Homemade Yong Tau Foo
Yong Tau Foo is one of my family’s favourite dishes. Whenever we like to eat Yong Tau Foo, we would go to those famous eateries such as the one at Ampang and Puchong. However, I have been skeptical about the ingredients used to make these Yong Tau Foo. I am concern if ‘Pang Sa’ is added into the paste. I was delighted when Jennifer told me that her mother agreed to show us how to make Yong Tao Foo, which is one of the best kept secrets from her many years of experience in making this dish for her family.
1 fresh Spanish mackerel (1000 grams), clean and drain well
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
Some white pepper
6 pieces of ladies fingers/ okra, remove seeds, slit lengthwise
6 pieces of brinjals, slice at an angle, slice horizontally almost to the edge
6 fresh red chilies, remove seeds, slit lengthwise
6 pieces tau foo pok (deep fried tofu balls) preferably from Bentong, half diagonally, make a small slit on the cut side
1 pieces bean curd skin sheets, dampen with a wet cloth, cut into half (about 4×6-inch rectangles), trim uneven edges, reserve trimmings
1 small bitter gourd, remove seeds and slice at an angle
a small bowl of water
1 bowl of cooking oil
Yong Tao Foo gravy:
5 cloves garlic, minced finely
a few sprigs of fresh coriander, finely chopped
2 table spoons of light soy sauce
2 table spoon of oyster sauce
Prepare the fish paste:
On a large chopping board, fillet the fish from tail to head on one side, avoiding the dorsal and ventral frame, but taking off the gill bone/operculum (just below the head) along with the fillet, leaving the head intact. Set the fillet aside. With a small spoon, scrape the fish meat off the bone from head to tail. Repeat the filleting and scraping with the other side. Do not scrape meat that is visible with blood stain. Place the fish skeleton aside. Repeat scraping the fish meat off the fillets, holding on to the fin bone, not tearing the skin. Reserve fish skeletons and trimmings in a freezer bag for stews, stocks or congee.
Clean the chopping board and dampen slightly with a splash of water. In a small cup or bowl, mix the salt with the water well. With a cleaver or a large knife, chop up the gathered fish meat into a rough mince. Add about 1/3 of the salt water and a dash of pepper to the mince; continue chopping to mix in the seasoning. Repeat the seasoning and chopping twice until all salt water is used up.
Prepare the stuffed items:
Set aside a small bowl of salted water.
Use a small butter knife to stuff fried tofu pok and vegetables.
For the bean curd skins, spread a thin layer of fish paste on each sheet (short side facing you), add on some of the trimmings, then roll the sheet up and away. Seal the edges with a little bit of beaten egg.
The amount of paste to use varies, generally chilies, ladies finger and bitter gourd use up more filling.
Clean up the edges and smooth out the fish paste with some salted water. (Avoid overstuffing the tofu and vegetables as they may tear/break during frying.)
Lay out all the stuffed items on a platter/tray to prepare for frying.
Cook the stuff items and gravy: In a large wok, heat up oil over medium heat and fry the stuffed items by batches.
Tips: Ensure oil is hot enough for deep frying to avoid oil-clogged results. The tau foo pok is already cooked, this will take the shortest time. Avoid frying the chilies and ladies finger for too long, they will shrink and separate from the filling. Tofu is fried last due to the moisture; eggplants take the longest to cook.
Drain the fried items on a oil sieve before transferring them to the plate. Reduce the oil in the wok to 1 tablespoon. Pour in the garlic and fry for about 1 minute. Then pour in water and cook for about 2 mins, follow by soy sauce and oyster sauce. Fry for another 3 mins till the gravy become slightly thicken.
Check and adjust seasoning. Turn off heat, add in the coriander.
Once the gravy is ready, pour in the stuffed items and cook for another 2 mins.
Dish out into a bowl and serve the Yong Tau Foo with warm rice if desired.
If dealing with a whole fish is not your thing and you’d rather use readymade fish paste, either get it fresh from your fishmonger or look for packaged ones with the least amount of additives/preservatives/liquid. Any leftover fish paste can be reserved to make fish balls or fish cakes for soups, congee or vegetable stir fries. The tauchu:sugar ratio in the dipping sauce is always 1:1, so you may adjust the recipe accordingly (this recipe yields about 3 cups).
If you have Thermomix, you can use it to make fish paste. Check out the link here.