Vegan MoFo Day 29: Three Cup Tofu (三杯豆腐)!

Vegan MoFo 2010!

I think I’m finally (FINALLY) just about over my lingering mystery illness… just in time for MoFo to draw to a close. Well, I still have a pantry full of unknown-to-me ingredients to use up, so I’m just going to keep writing!
This is a veganized version of Sanbeiji (三杯雞), a Taiwanese dish colloquially known as “three cup chicken” because it uses equal parts soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil. I’ve had three cup tofu in a restaurant precisely once, at the unstoppably awesome Evergreen in Minneapolis. (It’s dish #CR9 on the Chef’s Recommendations menu. You have to try it, for real.) It was so delicious, and I was excited about trying it at home! It’s super-spicy, super-garlicky, super-gingery, super-savory, and super-TASTY.
All of the sanbeiji recipes I came across included a lot more sugar, but as I am generally loathe to use sugar in savory applications, I only used a tiny bit. YMMV!

THREE CUP TOFU (三杯豆腐)
h/t Eating China
» 1/2 lb yellow or extra-firm pressed tofu, cut into strips
» 2 tbsp or 5-6 cloves garlic, minced
» 1 tbsp or 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
» 2 tbsp soy sauce
» 2 tbsp Shaoxing or other rice wine
» 2 tbsp sesame oil, divided
» 1 tsp Sambal Oelek or 2 fresh red chilies, chopped
» a pinch of sugar
» cornstarch, for dredging (optional)
» scallions (optional)
» Thai or sweet basil (optional, preferably Thai), chopped

If using cornstarch, toss the tofu strips in cornstarch until they are coated.
Combine rice wine, soy sauce, and sugar in a small bowl.
Heat 1 tbsp sesame oil over medium-high heat. Fry the tofu strips until golden brown, 4-5 minutes each side, and set aside on paper towel to drain.
Heat the remaining sesame oil over medium heat. Add sambal/chilies, garlic, and ginger and fry for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant.
Add wine/soy/sugar mixture and fried tofu. Braise until sauce is almost completely reduced and absorbed, about 10 minutes. Add a 1:1 cornstarch and water slurry to thicken the sauce, if you’d like. The tofu should be somewhat dry.
If using scallions and basil, add them to the tofu and sauce and cook for 1-2 minutes, until all of the flavors are well combined and the basil is wilted. Serve with jasmine rice and your vegetable of choice. I used a cup or so of crispy steamed green beans and it was delightful.

Three Cup Tofu  (三杯豆腐)

And here’s some bonus Dulli and Aidan snuggling.

Dulli and Aidan

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9 Responses to Vegan MoFo Day 29: Three Cup Tofu (三杯豆腐)!

  1. Pingback: The Moving on from Leftovers MoFo Roundup | Vegan MoFo Headquarters International

  2. Rose says:

    This looks amazingly delicious! Thanks for the recipe; I’m trying this for sure!

  3. This looks intensely delicious!
    I just wanted to stop by and visit a fellow MoFoer. It sure has been fun. So many yummy recipes to try, I want to taste all of them. It was nice to get to know you and your blog.

  4. Margaret Evans says:

    wow! that looks deelish! I’m definitely making this! YUM!

  5. RachelBethany says:

    I love Evergreen’s tofu! Is there anything that could be used to approximate rice wine? I have everything else but don’t see myself using rice wine often enough to buy it.

  6. Stephanie says:

    Thanks for the kind words, everyone! <3

    RachelBethany, sherry would work best, but you can also just use regular white wine in place of rice wine. Otherwise, just leave it out! Hope you like it.

  7. My undying gratitude for this dish! I lived 5 of my 24 vegetarian years in Taiwan–a veg*n paradise–and have often missed this unique dish. I’ve never had it since leaving the island, since when I’ve seen it on menus it’s offered in the original meat version. Xie xie!

  8. Psst, the Taiwanese veg*n version wouldn’t use garlic as in Chinese Buddhist tradition garlic and onions cloud the mind by exciting the passions (yep, aphrodisiacs) but I love garlic! It is the way to make it through cold season too.

  9. Pingback: The Moving on from Leftovers MoFo Roundup | VeganMoFo

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