I live in a constant state of dessert craving, which is not exactly news to anyone that knows me. But sometimes, I’ll actually have a craving that ticks both the healthy and dessert columns, and when that happens, it’s special enough to blog about.
Tofu Hua (tofu fa or tau huey in Cantonese*) is a light tofu dessert that’s usually served at yum cha. It’s almost the same as Filipino taho which is served for breakfast, which means that we have different priorities to the Chinese. In the early morning, vendors walk up and down the streets carrying large barrels across their shoulders, calling out “taho~” to let people know they can come outside and get a large glass or mug filled with deliciousness.
Taho is straightforward, just a block of soft tofu drowned in brown sugar syrup. Tofu hua is usually made with fresh tofu, with a less sweet syrup, or if you’re really lucky, a ginger sugar syrup. I’m combining the two of these to get the best of both worlds.
* Thanks to Celeste for the Mandarin and Cantonese spellings!
Tofu Hua with Ginger Syrup
Ground ginger (optional)
Oh yes, it’s another recipe with no measurements or serving size! But you still love me, right?
For this entry, I’m making a single serving, but will be using the rest of the ingredients in my next couple of blog posts. What am I making? You’ll just have to wait and see…
Firstly, we’re making a simple syrup – which is equal amounts of sugar and water. I’m using 1.5 cups of both here, but I don’t recommend doing this for any less than 1/2 cup. Simple syrup will last almost indefinitely in the fridge, so it’s not worth the risk of burning a pot, even if you only want a little bit.
Peel and slice your ginger into thin pieces. The amount of ginger you’ll need depends on how much syrup you’re making, how strong you want it, and how quickly you want it to be finished. For my 1.5 cups of (strong) syrup, I used about half the ginger in the picture.
Put everything into a pot and bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar, then simmer. Stir the mixture occasionally so nothing gets stuck to the bottom of the pot.
For a mild syrup, simmer for about 10 minutes. For a stronger syrup, simmer for 20 minutes, or increase the amount of ginger.
While the syrup is boiling, cut your tofu up carefully. There’s no need to press or drain it.
While fresh tofu is used for yum cha, I didn’t have
the patience all the ingredients to make it, so I just went with silken tofu. I think firm tofu would be too firm for this dessert, but if my cravings were strong enough, I’d still probably go ahead and use it.
And that’s basically it! Strain the ginger pieces out of the syrup, and pour it over the tofu. Let it sit for a few minutes for the heat from the syrup to warm the tofu, or eat rightaway and enjoy the contrasting temperatures.
If your syrup is still not strong enough (or you are too impatient), you can sprinkle some ground ginger into the simmering syrup to give it another boost.
Left over ginger can be frozen in either whole or grated form. The tube you can see in the freezer bag is grated ginger rolled in cling wrap – whenever I need grated ginger, I just slice a bit off one end. If you are freezing whole ginger, don’t peel it first, and try to use young rather than mature ginger. The higher moisture content means that it freezes faster, and therefore thaws with less damage to the ginger root.
As for the leftover syrup, store it in a squeeze bottle for easy serving later on, or in an air-tight jar. You can warm the syrup by putting the container in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes.
Since sugar is a preservative, it should last pretty much forever in the fridge. You can use it whenever you’d want to add a bit of gingery sweetness – tea, cocktails or mixed drinks (try it with soda water!), use it as a soak for dried fruit or cakes, ice cream topping, basting liquid for tocino…
Or, you can wait and see what I did in my next couple of posts… Until then, I think I’ll have some more tofu!
Do you have a healthy craving? Or a recipe that you can use in multiple dishes? Let me know in the comments!