If you haven’t yet visited the tofu section of your market or supermarket, you are in for a real treat. Tofu here in China is not just white blocks of tastelessness sloshing around in sealed containers like it is in the States. It comes in a plethora of different shapes of tastelessness!
I’m just kidding about the tastelessness. Tofu is fairly bland, but it does have a taste of its own, and when prepared right, it is downright delicious. So, even if you turned up your nose at some vegan version of “meat” in the States, be sure to try a few tofu dishes while you’re in the Middle Kingdom.
Alright, you may have guessed from that pro-tofu introduction that the little puffy cubes in the photo are made out of tofu. And you would be right. They are little fried tofu cubes that are hollow on the inside. In our family, we call them “tofu marshmallows.” I honestly haven’t even learned the proper Mandarin name for them. You know how it is in the market – just bag up what you want and hand it to the vendor to weigh. There’s often no need to know the right word (and in fact, there have been times when I’ve tried to learn the name of something from a vendor, and they don’t even know!).
Tofu marshmallows are great for adding into hot pot in the winter. They can also be stuffed with the same type of mixture you’d use to stuff jiaozi or wontons. Supermarkets sometimes carry them pre-stuffed for you to take home and cook. Score! I put them in a covered frying pan with some water and basically just steam them ’til the meat is cooked, adding more water if necessary. They make a great party or potluck food.
Remember to try tofu! What’s your favorite variety or way to prepare it?