Hong Shao Kao Fu – Braised Wheat Gluten with Mushrooms

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Hong Shao Kao Fu, (红烧烤麸) is a Shanghainese vegetarian cold appetizer. Kao fu is a form of wheat gluten, often sold dried, that tastes kind of like tofu. What a lot of people don’t know about Chinese food is the abundance of cold dishes often served before the main meal. This is one of those traditional dishes. If you’re a vegetarian, congratulations! You’ll really enjoy this.

My guess is that you don’t see this dish everyday…in fact, you probably never have. It’s not commonly served in Chinese restaurants around the U.S. unless you’re sitting in a really authentic Shanghainese place. Don’t be alarmed! We must all face our fermented black beans, tofu puffs, and wood ear mushrooms with an open mind. These are ingredients used all the time in Chinese cooking, and can open up a whole new world of authentic Chinese cuisine in your kitchen.

Pick up a pack of kao fu (烤麸) in your local Chinese grocery store, dried or fresh (if using fresh, there’s no need to soak it). I made this dish in the afternoon so we could use natural daylight for photos, and the dish never made it to dinner table. We ate everything right after the photo session. That’s how good it is! If you grew up eating this, you already know what I mean. Some people like this dish to be slightly sweeter, as is traditional. If you like, you can add a little more sugar to suit your tastes.

  • 2 pieces of dried wheat gluten/kao fu (about 5” x 5” each): Soak in warm water until soft
  • 1 dozen shitake mushrooms, soaked in warm water until soft
  • 1 small handful of dried wood ear mushrooms, soaked in warm water until soft
  • 1 small handful of dried lily-flower, soaked in warm water until soft
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 3 slices ginger
  • ¼ cup raw peanuts, skins removed (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
  • 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 cups water

Here’s what the kao fu looks like when dry. Looks kind of like a slice of stale bread.

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Once the kao fu is soft, rinse it under running water. Then cut each piece into 1-inch by 1-inch squares.

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Rinse the mushrooms, wood ears, and lily flower. Drain and set aside.

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Heat oil in your wok over high heat. Add the ginger and fry for 30 seconds. Add the wheat gluten, and cook until slightly browned, about 2 minutes.

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Add the mushrooms, wood ear, lily flower, and peanuts. Mix everything well. Then add the wine, soy sauces, sugar, and water. Stir well and bring to a boil. Cover the pan, turn the heat to low, and simmer for about 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes to prevent sticking. Serve warm or cold (this is usually served as a cold dish).

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Have you ever tried this dish or Shanghai Cuisine?  We’d like to hear about it!

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HONG SHAO KAO FU – Braised Wheat Gluten with Mushrooms

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 2 hours

HONG SHAO KAO FU – Braised Wheat Gluten with Mushrooms

Ingredients

2 pieces of dried wheat gluten/kao fu (about 5” x 5” each): Soak in warm water until soft
1 dozen shiitake mushrooms, soaked in warm water until soft
1 small handful of dried wood ear mushrooms, soaked in warm water until soft
1 small handful of dried lily-flower, soaked in warm water until soft
3 tablespoons oil
3 slices ginger
¼ cup raw peanuts, skins removed (optional)
3 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
3 teaspoons sugar
3 cups water

Once the kao fu is soft, rinse it under running water. Then cut each piece into 1-inch by 1-inch squares. Rinse the mushrooms, wood ears, and lily flower. Drain and set aside.

Heat oil in your wok over high heat. Add the ginger and fry for 30 seconds. Add the kao fu, and cook until slightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, wood ear, lily flower, and peanuts. Mix everything well. Then add the wine, soy sauces, sugar, and water. Stir well and bring to a boil.

Cover the pan, turn the heat to low, and simmer for about 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes to prevent sticking. Serve warm or cold (this is usually served as a cold dish).

http://thewoksoflife.com/2014/04/hong-shao-kao-fu-braised-wheat-gluten-mushrooms/

Comments

  1. CC says

    I love kao fu – we always order it in restaurants here in NYC and now I can’t wait to make it myself. Your family blog is awesome – looking forward to more homestyle Chinese recipes I know and love, and new stuff too!

    • says

      Thanks for the complements and it is so awesome to hear that you like the kao fu. I’ll make sure we continue to have a good share of the homestyle recipes!

  2. Clara says

    I love Kao fu! I had it the first time here in Shanghai during my exchange year.
    I am gonna make this when I come home and show my family!
    Thanks for sharing

    • says

      Hi, Clara, when I first posted this dish, I got no response. I figured oh well, this post will be for my girls only…because they really love it. Now I have another fan. Yeahhh! You made me very happy! ;-) It’s not very well-known, but this dish really does taste great and is high in protein (great for vegans and vegetarians. In my opinion, this dish can definitely compete with our http://thewoksoflife.com/2014/04/shanghai-style-braised-pork-belly/ recipe that everyone loves. thank you so much for commenting.

  3. Bel says

    I live in Tasmania (Australia) there is a shanghai restaurant near my house that serves the most amazing kao fu . It is by far one of my all time favourite dishes. I cant wait to try your recipe :)

    • says

      Hi, Bel, I’m especially grateful when readers comment on this recipe. I think it’s such a great dish and I would like to see more people trying it. Please let me know what you think after trying.

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