By Request

Betty Shimabukuro

Wednesday, August 6, 2003

Chinese dishes
gain texture
from foo jook

Dried bean curd, foo jook in Chinese, is a hard, brittle thing that gets all soft, supple and nicely chewy after taking a bath in hot water. It's one of the more intriguing ingredients in the Chinese pantry that lends great texture to soups, stews and casseroles.

Schalene Kobashigawa e-mailed in search of simple, tasty recipes using foo jook.

These come from "Popo's Kitchen" by June Tong, one of the most useful cookbooks for Chinese dishes, Hawaiian-style. Unfortunately, the 1988 publication is out of print, so if you ever find one, pay any price for it. I don't have a copy, but I do have visitation rights with my mother's and for some recipes, it's the only source.

Dried bean curd can be found in Asian markets in sheets and rolls; these recipes call for the rolled version. Treat it like dried mushrooms -- pour some very hot water over it and let it soften. You also can parboil it.

Both these recipes have been tested in our families' kitchens, although the original recipe for the pork dish called for fish maws (dried deep-fried stomach lining). But that seemed to violate Kobashigawa's request for simple recipes, plus it's scary, so I made adjustments to do without.

Both these dishes can be greasy, so in the best of circumstances you'd make them a day ahead, refrigerate and scrape off the congealed fat.

Spareribs with Foo Jook

1 pound spareribs, in 1-inch pieces
1/4 pound dried bean curd, soaked until soft and cut in 2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water

>> Sauce:
1 cup chicken broth
2 slices ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sherry
1 tablespoon brown bean sauce
1 teaspoon sugar

Parboil spareribs. Rinse and drain.

Combine sauce ingredients. Combine with spareribs and bean curd in pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 1 hour. Stir in salt. Thicken with cornstarch slurry.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving: 390 calories, 26 g total fat, 7 g saturated fat, 65 mg cholesterol, greater than 1,500 mg sodium, 10 g carbohydrate, 31 g protein.

Braised Pork with Mushrooms

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 pounds pork, cubed
1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked until soft, stems removed
1/4 pound dried bean curd, soaked until soft and cut in 1-inch pieces
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 piece star anise
2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water

Heat oil in a large pot. Add pork; sauté until white. Drain mushrooms and bean curd; add to pot. Add broth, soy sauce and oyster sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, 30 to 45 minutes, until pork is tender. Skim fat, then thicken with cornstarch slurry. Serves 8.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving: 290 calories, 15 g total fat, 4 g saturated fat, 80 g cholesterol, 700 mg sodium, 7 g carbohydrate, 32 g protein.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

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"By Request," Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
500 Ala Moana, No. 7-210, Honolulu 96813.
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Asterisk (*) after nutritional analyses in the
Body & Soul section indicates calculations by Joannie Dobbs of Exploring New Concepts,
a nutritional consulting firm.

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