Friday, June 18, 2010

Crispy Tofu With Salted Eggs

It all started with a newspaper advertorial for a local hotel's restaurant. I saw the tofu dishes on promotion and zoomed in straight into this one:

Crispy Tofu, Corn Tossed with Salted Egg, Curry Leaves and Chilli Padi. Woooo ... sounds good! But to taste this dish, you'd have to eat it at The Fairmont Singapore. So, let's just wing it and make it at home, shall we?

I had two salted eggs in the larder and this dish was perfect. For the benefit of those who are unfamiliar with salted duck eggs, here's what they look like:

Fear not. That black stuff, according to Wikipedia, is damp salted charcoal and is meant to be removed. Haha! Rinse well under running water.

We are only using the yolks for this dish. As you can see, the yolks are firm and hold their shape even though they are uncooked. Mash them up like I did.

Fresh Chinese Tofu and Curry Leaves.

I suppose you can use any type of tofu (except silken tofu which may not hold well during frying), but I chose fresh Chinese tofu from the wet market (see picture above). The texture is not as smooth as those packaged ones at the supermarket but you really taste the natural beany goodness in every bite.

(Left) Golden and crispy tofu cubes; (Right) Salted duck egg yolks bubbling in butter. Mmmmmm.

When you fry the tofu, please don't do a half-hearted job. Take the time and effort to fry till they are golden and crispy on the outside. Otherwise you will end up with tofu that is fried but still mushy ... and if you want mushy tofu, you are better off eating it steamed or in soups. One of my pet peeves is eating fried tofu that is NOT crispy! Yuck.

(guess work by The Little Teochew)
- 1 slab fresh Chinese tofu, cut into cubes
- 2 salted duck egg yolks, mashed
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- 1 chilli padi (bird's eye chilli), sliced thinly (optional)
- 1 knob butter or margarine
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
Note: I omitted corn because I didn't have any, but that shouldn't stop you from adding them if you like.

1. In a skillet, fry tofu cubes in oil until lightly browned. Add in garlic, curry leaves (as well as chilli padi and corn, if using) and continue frying till tofu is crispy and golden brown. Set aside and drain off excess oil.

2. In the same skillet, add a knob of butter or margarine, followed by salted duck egg yolks (mashed). Allow everything to bubble and foam.

3. Throw tofu cubes back in and mix everything to coat.

4. Taste test and season with salt or pepper if desired. Dish up and serve.

I omitted chilli padi because it was a dish for the whole family. But I would most certainly add some if I were cooking this for the adults only.

Overall, the dish was decent but nothing to shout about. I am pretty sure it has to do with me omitting the chilli padi and corn. I think I will just have to experiment again and see. That, or pay to eat the chef's creation. ;)


  1. Wow.. how cool! I've never seen those eggs in salted charcoal before. Apparently the one you can buy here are already cleaned up which is too bad! They look so cool! And the crispy tofu is absolutely mouth-watering. Great post!

  2. Ju, this looks delicious! I nvr know tat salted eggyolk can be so yummy until I ate the crabs with salted eggyolk in 1 of the restaurant a few yrs ago. Other than this type of cooking, I dun eat salted eggyolk :P.

  3. Fascinating! maybe you will get it right next time!

  4. I love your guesswork! Currently collecting recipes for fried tofu, and yours came just in time :)

  5. this dish really look mouthwatering!! really interesting and creative!! thanks for sharing! going to try once I get salted egg and tofu!

  6. Delicious! I like this combo a lot, so will try it out myself!

  7. hi there,
    for crispy tofu, i would normally 1st fry til golden brown & dish & drain quickly. Then let the oil heat up once more & 2nd fry them & quickly dish & drain...
    for the salted egg yolks, i would normally steam til the yolks r cooked then mash them while they r still hot...
    just sharing...

  8. 2-Cents Worth: Thank you! Comments like that, I really appreciate! Appreciate your sharing these useful tips. :D

  9. Looks good! Will definitely try it out. Anything with salted egg is super!

  10. God, this is the kind of dish that I heart!

    Wish I could find salted eggs, no, I should make some myself like I've always meant to!

  11. Ju

    This post is enlightening; first of all I had no idea what salted eggs were and your technique of cooking them is so interesting; I can see and feel the delicious aromas of this dish.

  12. Well done Ju! Adding just a dash of oyster sauce and soy would make a big difference. Your photo looks better than that of the poster :)
    Did you make any dumplings?

  13. Actually I've seen on TV, chefs using cooked salted egg yolk, instead of frying them raw.
    Mashing them after they were steamed will give a finer texture.

  14. Suresh, Wendy: Thanks a lot! I will incorporate your tips the next time I make this dish again. :)

  15. Ju, looks aweeeesomeee!!! Is fresh chinese tofu tau kwa?

  16. Manda: No, it isn't. Tau Kwa is much firmer. It's better to use packaged Chinese tofu if you can't get fresh chinese tofu. :)

  17. This is a very interesting dish. I don't think it would need the corn. I have to go easy on the hot chillies for my husband, so I use a one with less of a bite. I like to toss the tofu in rice flour and it crisps up nicely, then blot on a paper towel. I don't know where I would get a salted egg here. :D

    Your photos are stunning, you can really see the texture!

  18. love love love! with congee. where is the you tiao as well!

  19. I have had it with prawns and crabs but never with tofu. Must try!

  20. As always, my dear, you have given me a new thing to obsess over - in this case, salted duck eggs. I am on a mission now! The yolks look amazing bubbling in that butter ... I am with you, I would definitely add some heat, but I'm sure it was delicious nonetheless!

  21. MMMMMM,..a very tempting & exciting dish, dear Ju!

    Lovely pictures too!

    many kisses from rainy Brussels!

  22. I just had salted egg(with curry leaves) with crabs over the weekend and I so like the salted egg + curry leaves mix. I bet tofu taste superb with them, definitely!

  23. I may have not yet cooked these but I can assure you I'm convinced they're golden heaven on a plate. Here in Australia (and in Asian countries, I'm sure) there's a version where the tofu are fried with salted eggs as its batter. Absolutely delicious.

  24. For those who can't buy salted duck eggs locally, it's easy to make them, though it's time consuming. Once you salt them, you can either cook them or leave them uncooked.

    I've used a method roughly based on these two:

  25. WOW! I'm glad I found an easy to make recipe for the salty egg yolk tofu! I just had it and loved it! Thanks for the great post!

  26. i loved this dish a lot! thanks for sharing. can you share on how to make salted egg yolk custard buns too? ;)