Pressed tofu is an extremely delicious food made by pressing firm tofu until there are no holes inside anymore so it becomes drier and firmer, then it is cooked in five spice flavored soy sauce. Besides being vegetarian, it is also an extremely delicious food and is high in protein. Pressed tofu can also be smoked (in this case, I think that it is not cooked in the five-spice soy sauce).
I have already made a recipe with pressed tofu and Lao Gan Ma sauce, and the recipe can be found here. However, this dish is spicy, and some people do not eat spicy food. There are many ways to prepare pressed tofu, and this extremely easy-to-make stir-fry with celery is one of the most delicious as well as being non-spicy. In Chinese, this dish is known as 芹菜炒香干 (qin cai chao xiang gan, pronounced “tseen tsai chall syahng gun” with no silent t, literally “celery vegetable stir-fry fragrant dry”). There are many variants of this dish from place to place and household to household. (That’s why there are so many optional ingredients!) It is a very popular dish to eat in both homes and restaurants. Enjoy!
Adapted from Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook by Fuchsia Dunlop. I seriously recommend all authentic Chinese food lovers to buy all of Fuchsia Dunlop’s cookbooks because they are amazing!
9 oz five-spice pressed tofu (五香豆腐干 wu xiang dou fu gan, pronounced “woo syahng doh foo gun” with oo as in cool, literally meaning: five fragrant bean curd dry. I love the Furuma brand, labeled “Savory Baked Tofu”, but it comes in packs of 12 oz. You can make some extra and add a little more celery. Or, you can use the extra for another dish.) OR smoked pressed tofu
7 oz Chinese celery or western celery (this is about 3 stalks western celery)
a red chili pepper or some red bell pepper (optional, for color. You can also use a small carrot.)
1 tsp finely minced garlic (optional)
1 tsp finely minced ginger (optional)
white or black pepper (optional)
light and dark soy sauces (dark is optional)
cooking oil (peanut, canola, soybean, avocado, extra light olive, anything that can stand higher heat. NO EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL)
1/2 tsp sesame oil (optional)
1. Julienne the pressed tofu.
2. Julienne the celery. Julienne the pepper (or carrot) if using.
3. OPTIONAL: Heat the wok or skillet, add 1.5 tbsp oil, and stir-fry the pressed tofu for a couple of minutes. This makes it more fragrant. However, the step is optional. Set aside the pressed tofu onto a plate.
*Chinese cooking tip: Don’t measure oil with a spoon unless you are REALLY new to cooking. Otherwise, always estimate. I also estimate measurements of soy sauce and other sauces, but this is only recommended after you get more experienced.*
4. Heat the wok and add 2.5 tbsp oil if you did not stir-fry the tofu, or add 1 tbsp oil if you did. Add the ginger and garlic if using and stir-fry until fragrant.
5. Add the celery and pepper/carrot if using. Add a couple pinches salt and stir-fry for a minute or two to cook the vegetables.
6. Add the pressed tofu and stir-fry until hot. Add salt to taste and pepper if using. Add 1 tsp light soy sauce and a little dark soy sauce for color if desired. Stir-fry for 30 seconds or so, then taste for salt. This dish does not have a sauce, and only has a tsp of soy sauce, so you may need more salt. If needed, add more salt until it tastes good.
7. Turn off the heat and stir in the sesame oil if desired.
8. Serve with cooked white or brown rice, a stir-fried green leafy vegetable, and maybe a meat dish if desired. Enjoy!
Here is a picture of the pressed tofu! 🙂