Monday, October 18, 2010

Three Cups Tofu

Actually I think I’ve only eaten 3 cups chicken once, and I don’t really remember much of it.
But when I saw this on Shirley’s blog, gosh, I just got to try this.

Shirley used pressed tofu of which she found it not silky smooth after braising and suggested silken tofu to her readers instead. Well, I fried half of my local silken tofu cubes in my wok, and I had to discard all of them into my tummy cos they were totally unpresentable and stuck to the wok. Then I fried the other half of the silken tofu in a non stick pan. Phew, they looked much better, but there was only half. Not enough!!!! Luckily I had another block of pressed tofu in the fridge, supermarket pressed tofu in a plastic box. I just used that … fried it and cooked with it. Frying pressed tofu was a breeze :)

Weirdly, after all the braising, I couldn’t distinguish between the silken tofu and the pressed tofu. Both were soft, but porous after all the frying and braising. Unlike what Shirley had said that hers were not soft. Mine was soft, but rough and porous inside. But I do think that Tofu made with only GDL gives a rubbery texture when cooked for a prolonged time, because I once had that for steamboat and the tofu was rubbery but not porous. Yucks!!! Some sites also mentioned that no water should be added to 3 cups dishes. So, maybe it’ll be better if the braising is not done to ensure one gets a nice smooth center, as braising draws moisture out from the tofu, thus making it either porous or rubbery. I don’t have any other experiences with 3 cups dishes, so, I’ll leave the decision to you, to braise with water/stock or not to braise. I might not braise it the next time I do this.

Well, Shirley didn’t mention how much tofu to use as 1 block can be really ambiguous. 1 block of pressed tofu at the wet market here is just 2 X2X1 inch. And there’s one stall in Kampar that sells block tofu that measures 6x3x2. So, I pretty dunno how much and I just used approximately 400gm. I find my dish being slightly oversalted (maybe my soy sauce is salty???? I dunno) and I will use 500gm next time, that is if I ever do this again. Or just reduce the 3 Tbsp each to just 2 Tbsp each of sesame oil, light soy sauce and wine.

Overall, this is a nice tofu dish.

3 Cups Tofu
Recipe source : Kokken 69

400gm pressed tofu, cut into cubes
Half bulb of garlic, skin on, hard ends cut off, lightly smashed
3 stalks of spring onion, white parts only, cut into 2 inch lengths
1 inch ginger, sliced

3 Tbsp sesame oil
3 Tbsp light soy sauce
3 Tbsp Shao Xing wine
¼ tsp sugar (It's sweet enough for me, after adding this, I found it too sweet)
1 cup water (I didn’t use stock cos I find the aromatics used above is flavourful enough)
Handful of basil leaves (as much or as little as you want)

1. Fry tofu until golden and crisp. (I do this in a non stick pan as a regular wok is so difficult to fry these delicate things). Drain and set aside.
2. Heat wok and put in sesame oil.
3. Fry garlic, green onions and ginger until fragrant and slightly golden
4. Put in fried tofu cubes and put in light soy sauce and Shao Xing wine. Toss it until it sort of dries up.
5. Put in water and sugar and let it braise until the water dries up and you start to see oil on the base.
6. Put in basil leaves, give it a toss and turn off the heat.


  1. 3 cup tofu...sound very yummy. Love tofu. Love your creation :D

  2. I must have missed out Shirley's post on this 3 cups tofu, it looks scrumptious! I actually cook 3 cups chicken quite often when I was in KL because I have a pot of basil growing. Thanks for posting it and telling a little about your experience withe pressed / silken version tofu. Will make this dish this week. :)

  3. Very interesting. Thanks to this post, I remembered that my mom hasn't cooked fried tofu for a long time! I have to go remind her to cook it again one day. :)

  4. Love the idea of using fried tofu instead of chicken. I will try this too. But I'll omit the basil, cuz I don't like the smell, haha...

  5. It certainly looks tasty! I bet the tofu probably soaked up some gravy and with each bite can feel it oozing or squirting!

  6. Fried tofu is simply delicious and I really like tis dish of yours very much:)

  7. surprisingly dish and i thought there's only 3 cups chicken you are getting better and better wendy!

  8. I book marked this but have yet to try it out cos I keeping forgetting to buy basil leaves. Is it nice? I am it is.

  9. The tofu became like tau-pok? I've never eaten 3-cups-anything how's the taste? same like braised stuffs? Your pics looks like those served in restaurants, where the gravy will ooze out when you bite into the tofu...

  10. Wendy, this is definitely one dish I want to repeat again. Yours look very good. Hope your family likes it.

  11. Looks very delicious...I am a little intemidated to cook is not used much here and I have had a few bad experiences...I'll have to try it again.

  12. Love the idea and it actually looks very delicious to me.

  13. I wanted to try cooking this dish but with chicken. I eaten it at a Taiwanese restaurant the last time I went home and they were good. Using tofu is a great idea as it absorb all the wonderful flavor of the sauce. I too notice tofu gets hard if I braised it too long.

  14. Zoe,
    It's not my creation. I can't take credit for this. It's a popular Hakka dish.

    3 cups chicken eh.. coming up few weeks time, already in queue. Braise or not to braise, GDL or Gypsum tofu, will definately make a difference. I hope yours turn out well.

    Why remind mom? Try cooking it yourself. I'm sure you can do it. Be confident

    Little Inbox,
    Omit basil then no longer 3 cups liao. It's the basil that makes it so "hakka".
    It's like nasi lemak without sambal.... the soul is half gone. Try Sweet Basil if thai basil is too strong for u.

    Oh yes, it was squirting!!

    Thanks :)

    Jess Kitchen,
    Thanks to Shirley for showing me this option.

    Tofu is very delicate, just be careful when you handle it and you'll be fine.

    It is delicious


    I heard Tofu in US is not made with gypsum. The type of coagulant used affects the end taste after braising. Try checking out the coagulant used next time. Find one type that you like.

  15. Meldy,
    Yup, the gravy did ooze out, because the porosity of the tofu absorbed the gravy.
    Not that kosong like tofu pok, not that bad, but hmm.... slightly denser la. The taste ah, sesame oil, soy sauce and wine.... and basil, fragrant, oily and salty. hahaha.

    Thank you for inspiring me to try this dish.
    Because my tofu was slightly oversalted, we can't eat it without rice. But overall, it's nice. My first 3 cups dish :)

  16. woah, great idea using tofu! I can imagine all the tofu soaking up all the wonderful sauce..yum

  17. That's an innovative idea of using tofu instead of chicken. I could enjoy them without feeling guilty!

  18. pigpigscorner,
    I didn't come up with the idea.
    But it was really squirting with the sauce

    Hahaha, indulging once a while is fine.

  19. i never try any 3 cups recipe before, look like i have to give a try soon.

  20. Wendy, this dish is definitely me and my husband's love :)

  21. Sonia,
    Hope that your family will like this.

    Jess Bakericious,
    Then u have no excuse to not go into the kitchen. Tahan the smoke for a while la.

  22. Hey Wendy... what do you think if I use those pre fried 'tau chuen'fro
    the market? My sis bought those from a PJ market and they were really good.
    I made 3 cups chicken before but found it super salty. I must remember to decrease the soya sauce when I cook this tofu dish.

  23. Vien,
    I didn't use one cup of everything.
    If you used 400gm of tofu, 2 Tbsp of everything should be fine. I used 3 Tbsp and it was slightly oversalted. But 3 cups dishes must have the same ratio of sesame oil, wine and soy sauce. So, do not decrease one w/o the other.
    Those small prefried ones should work fine.

  24. 三杯豆腐??很有趣的采名。。。。味道应该很不错的吧??

  25. I used Sinner's recipe last time, with no adding of water. 2 Tbsp of each seems a tad "dry". Guess I will improvised by diluting the soy sauce.
    So difficult to find thai basil leaves here so I normally get the sweet basil from Cold Storage.

  26. cherry potato,
    The 3 cups name comes from the original version of 1 chicken with 1 cup each sesame oil, soy sauce and wine

    I read, that the dish should be dry, not with gravy. I also used sweet basil here.

  27. Thanks so much for the recipe! This is one of my favorite dishes, and I'm excited to finally cook it myself. It's simmering on the stove as I type.

  28. I keep coming back to this recipe year after year. Thank you for sharing it with us! On cold nights, my friends and I used to buy 3 cups tofu on Castro Street near San Francisco... eating this reminds me of them. Thank you!


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