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Black Bean Tofu 蔭豉豆腐

Black Bean Tofu 蔭豉豆腐

Yìnchi (fermented black soybeans) is an important Taiwanese flavor. To make them, black soybeans are steamed until fully cooked, injected with koji, salted, and fermented for months, resulting in a deeply earthy taste that is full of umami. Yìnchi’s flavor goes perfectly with the tartness and sweetness of pickled cordia seeds (seeds of the Cordia dichotoma tree, preserved in soy sauce). This is one of my favorites to eat with rice; remember to serve with a piping hot bowl!

Excerpted from A-Gong’s Table: Vegan Recipes from a Taiwanese Home by George Lee, pages 188-189, by permission of Penguin Random House. Available from us or wherever books are sold.

Serves: 4 to 6 as part of a spread


  • 4 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 1/4 cups warm All-Purpose Stock 高湯 or water
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp (10g) textured vegetable protein mince (TVP) 素肉丁
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp (15g) fermented black soybeans 蔭豉/豆豉
  • 4 cups plus 1 Tbsp water
  • salt
  • 1 (300g) block soft or silken tofu, cut into 3⁄4-inch cubes
  • 2 Tbsp neutral oil
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 green garlic 蒜苗 (80g), white and light green parts separated from the greens, all cut into 3⁄4-inch segments
  • 1 Tbsp (15g) pickled cordia seeds 破布子, cored
  • 1 tsp golden granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce paste 醬油膏
  • 1 Tbsp Taiwanese rice cooking wine
  • 1 tsp potato starch 太白粉 or cornstarch
  • 1 fresh red chili, cut into thin rings
  • 1 tsp sesame oil 香油
  • Pinch of white pepper


  1. In a small bowl, soak the dried shiitake mushrooms in the warm stock for 20 to 25 minutes, until just tender. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid. Snip off and discard the stems and finely mince the caps. Set the mushrooms and their soaking liquid aside separately.
  2. In a small bowl, soak the TVP in hot water to cover for about 10 minutes, until springy and enlarged. Drain it through a sieve and squeeze out any excess liquid. The liquid will be a little yellow. Continue to rinse and squeeze the TVP until the liquid runs clear to get rid of any undesired soy flavors.
  3. In a wok over high heat, bring 4 cups of the water and 1⁄2 tsp salt to a rolling boil. Lower the heat to medium so the water is still bubbling but not as rapidly. Add the tofu and blanch for 2 minutes. Using a spider strainer or slotted spoon, transfer the tofu to a plate and set aside.
  4. Rinse the wok and set it over medium-high heat until just smoking. Ladle in the neutral oil and swirl it around to create a nonstick surface. Add the TVP and fry for 3 to 6 minutes, until the steam dissipates and the TVP becomes a little golden. Push the TVP to the side and add the ginger and green garlic whites in the center of the wok for about 30 seconds, stirring, until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes to release their fragrance. Add the fermented black soybeans, pickled cordia seeds, sugar, and soy sauce paste and toss together a few times to combine. Swirl in the rice cooking wine down the sides and add the mushroom-soaking liquid to the wok. Bring to a gentle boil, carefully slide in the tofu along with any liquid that has seeped out, and cook for 4 to 6 minutes to infuse all the flavors.
  5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, make a slurry with the potato starch and the remaining 1 Tbsp water. Mix until no lumps remain.
  6. Add the chili rings and garlic greens to the wok, then drizzle in the slurry. Gently swirl the wok around without using a spatula (the tofu is fragile) until the sauce thickens. Finish with the sesame oil and white pepper. Taste and season with salt if needed. Transfer to a serving dish and serve immediately. Cool any leftovers and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Recipe by: George Lee of Chez Jorge.
Image Credit: Laurent Hsia