Tofu/ tofu skin is probably one of the most common & cost effective ingredients of Chinese cuisine, somehow transformed to an expensive delicatessen or something rather exotic in the western world. Vegans love both since they’re a great source of non-meat protein, but the vast majority of people are still very sceptical. The reason for that is that both tofu & tofu skin are plain & tasteless by themselves, however, they are actually very versatile, if you know what you are doing. They can be pan-fried, deep-fried, stir-fried, steamed, braised, filled, mashed, fermented, smoked, dried… It’s fascinating how those tiny little soy beans have evolved & reinvented along the history.
We all know that the most common kinds of tofu are either firm or silky. What about tofu skin? Here are just 4 of the most recognised forms of tofu skin in China:
Tofu skin knots –
They are simply dried tofu skin but literally has a knot in the middle. They are very often cooked with meat such as pork belly, pork ribs or chicken. I guess the reason for the knot is that it changes it’s soft texture to a more solid & contracted way, almost like meat in a way.
Tofu skin sticks-
They are called “tofu bamboo” in the southern part of China. Not only because of its long & cylinder-like shape, but also because of its slightly hard & crunchy consistency, which tastes almost like a real bamboo shoot. They could be braised with pork or tossed in salad dressing as a vegetarian salad.
So here is the real tofu skin we’re talking about. They’re so thin, you could almost see through them against the light. Because of that, they can be bind to any kind of sauces & seasonings. I’m a big fan of them while eating hotpot or simply roll them together & braised in soy sauce. It’s called “vegetarian duck” in China. (I will try to make a video on that next time.)
Baiye tofu –
They are actually compressed tofu skins which taste almost like dried tofu but is only around 1-2mm thick. It’s very common to roll them together & braised in soy sauce. It’s called “vegetarian chicken”, however, my favourite Baiye dish is actually a simple spicy salad or a vegetarian soup.
There are so many reasons to love tofu & tofu skin. Here are just a few possible ways to enjoy them. Definitely give them a try! You would realise that they’re actually not so intimidating as you have imaged. Visit my YouTube channel for more recipes.