Tofu Cheese? It’s fermented tofu (腐乳 or “fu yu” in Cantonese), sold in little glass bottles in Asian grocery stores. It’s a form of preserved tofu, made from soybeans. The other ingredients on the bottle list salt, rice wine and sesame oil. There’s a regular version and a spicy version which has bits of chili in the brine.
Tofu cheese is commonly used as a condiment for porridge or to stir fry kangkong vegetables (空心菜 “kong xin cai”, water convolvulus) but it makes a delicious savory marinade for chicken. It is unbelievably easy – just be sure to marinate the chicken with it long enough, so that the flavor gets into the meat. Deep fried chicken wings marinated with tofu cheese are incredibly tasty too!
I don’t deep-fry (too lazy to clean!), so here’s the healthy pan-fried version. I used the regular version of Tofu Cheese. I realized the chicken came out a bit pale in the photo – I should have fried it a bit longer to give it a more golden color.
2-3 cubes of Tofu Cheese (regular or spicy), mashed into a paste, using a fork
1 teaspoon of the brine from the Tofu Cheese bottle
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 pieces whole chicken legs
dash of salt (optional – Tofu Cheese is naturally salty)
1/2 teaspoon shrimp paste (“belacan”) – optional
2-3 shallots, peeled and chopped, for frying
3 tablespoon cooking oil
1 stalk of spring onion, washed and cut into 1 inch pieces (for garnish)
1. Cut the chicken legs into smaller pieces, rinse and pat dry with a paper towel.
2. Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Using your fingers or the back of a spoon, thoroughly coat the chicken pieces with the marinade and let sit it for a few hours, preferably overnight, in the fridge.
3. Heat the cooking oil in a frying pan. Fry the shallots for 1-2 minutes, then add in the chicken and stir fry until golden brown.
4. Dish up the chicken and garnish with spring onion. It goes really well with steam rice and vegetables.
(Tofu Cheese on spoon, photo credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fermentedchilibeancurd.jpg)