Yong tau foo is one of my favourite food. Whilst it is not easy to find delicious home made yong tau fu in Kuala Lumpur, thankfully there are still good yong tau fu in Ipoh.
I have been trying to recreate yong tau foo in my home in London and still searching for the best fishes to do so. However I didn’t stop at fishes only, I also tried prawns, which is just the right ingredient for yong tau foo too. I have tried to stuff with fried taufu, which is absolutely delicious. I bought some chestnut mushrooms the other day and when I saw the size, I thought I could also try to stuff with the paste. And voila! It is another to die for dish. The recipe is fairly easy and shouldn’t be too difficult to make. All you need is some love and patient! And this is a very versatile dish. You can stuff the paste with anything, such as aubergine, fried or non-fried taufu, bean curd sheet, bitter gourd, ladies fingers or okra, or just eat it on its own.
250g prawns, shells removed and deveined
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks of spring onion, diced
salt and white pepper to taste
1 tsp sesame oil
For the sauce:
garlic, finely diced
chestnut mushroom stalks, finely diced
10 chestnut mushroom
1. Before you work on the minced meat, let’s focus on the diced carrots first. As prawns cooked fairly quickly, what I did was to blanch the diced carrots for about 15-20 mins in boiled water. Don’t boil the carrots as this may soften the carrots too much. By blanching, the carrots will be partially cooked and its crunchiness is retained. You need this texture in the paste to add another dimension to your dish.
2. In the meantime, you can move on to the prawns. Once the shells and vein of the prawns have been removed, you can either use a heavy knife to “mince” the prawn till it forms paste, which I like to use. Or you if you have a food processor, you can process the prawns in it. Just be careful not to process the meat too much till it becomes mousse. Not quite the right texture you want.
3. Season the prawn paste with salt, pepper, cornflour and water. Mix it evenly and then add a dash of sesame oil and mix again. Once you have done so, the fun part begins. Take a big enough bowl and by using a clean hand, scoop out the paste and raise it about 15-20 cm from the bowl, throw the minced prawn to the bowl. This is the secret to having bouncy meat balls. (I am still trying to find out the actual reason of how this will help the minced meat to become bouncy). Try it and you will love it. Again the texture will be different to normal minced meat balls. Repeat this for 10-20 times. Once this is done, place the minced prawn in a bowl, wrap it with cling film and put in the fridge while proceeding on with the following steps.
4. I use chestnut mushroom because it has nutty flavour than normal white button mushroom. Shiitake mushroom can be used as well, but it may not have the right shape to stuff the paste. If there are black dirts on the mushrooms, remove it with clean cloth or tissue. Once all have been checked and removed, run the mushrooms quickly in cold running water. Wipe the mushrooms with a clean kitchen towel or kitchen tissue. Then remove the stalks so that you can stuff it with the paste. But don’t throw the stalks away as you need it for sauce later on. Or if you want to use it for other dishes, by all means. Just don’t waste food.
5. Now you can take out the paste from the fridge. Mix the paste with the blanched carrots and spring onion. If you like other types of vegetable, make sure it has the right crunchiness and flavour. If I were to do this dish in Malaysia, I’d add water chestnuts.
6. Once it is all evenly mixed, heat up the pan or wok and pour in a small dash of oil. What you are going to do next is to taste it. You just want to make sure that you have seasoned the paste enough. So drop in few bits of the mixed paste and wait till it cooks. Taste it and add salt or pepper if necessary.
7. Again, wash your hand and in a fairly large bowl, pour cold water in it. This is for you to dip your hand in if the paste is sticking to your hand or fingers. You will be using your hand to work with the paste a lot.
8. Once you are ready, scoop a handful of paste in your hand and form a smooth ball while pushing some paste through your thumb and index fingers. Use a spoon with the other hand to scoop out the paste from the thumb and index fingers. Stuff this formed prawn ball paste into the mushroom. Repeat till all mushrooms are stuffed. As the final touch, wet your index, middle and ring fingers with water and smooth the top of the paste. It should have shiny effect. Also you can use this opportunity to press the paste down to ensure it is tightly stuffed.
9. Now you can start to pan fried the paste and mushroom. Turn on the heat and add a dash of oil to the pan. First put the stuffed mushroom with the minced prawn facing down to the pan first. Fried till it brown. And turn the stuffed mushrooms over so to brown or cook the mushrooms. Remember to pan fry these with medium heat as you don’t want to burn it. You may need to cover the pan at this juncture to ensure the prawn is cooked thoroughly. You can obviously take one out and cut to see if it is all cooked, but by covering the pan for 5-10 mins, the prawn should be cooked.
10. Plate the mushroom and don’t worry if the mushrooms start to water. With the same pan, saute the garlic, and diced mushroom and add oyster sauce to taste. Pour it over the stuffed mushroom and enjoy!