Fried bean curd comes in many forms, including squares, triangles, and more, each with a different texture.
In this quick article, we’ll talk about what fried bean curd is, how it’s used in Chinese cooking, where to buy it, and our favorite recipes that feature this ingredient.
What Is Fried Bean Curd? And What Are Soy Puffs?
Fried bean curd is tofu that has been deep-fried to create a golden crust on the outside. Frying tofu doesn’t necessarily make it super crispy, like other fried foods. The effect is that they become chewy and absorbent, almost like little sponges for flavorful sauces, stews, and soups.
While there are many types of fried bean curd, with various shapes and textures, one of the most common is the soy puff, which is a cube of fried tofu with a golden outside and spongy, airy white center.
You can see them at the front of the plate of hot pot ingredients below:
How Is Fried Bean Curd Used?
Fried bean curd can be used in stir-fries, stews, and braised dishes. Throwing a pack of soy puffs into a braised dish like Judy’s mom’s recipe for Red Cooked Pork (Hong Shao Rou) is always a good idea, since the soy puffs soak up the delicious braising liquid. They’re like little flavor bombs that are just as much of a treat as the tender pieces of pork.
Because fried bean curd is also less delicate than regular firm tofu, it can withstand a lot of handling and stir-frying, making it a particularly good substitute for meat in stir-fry dishes.
They’re also delicious in soups and in hot pot, though be careful and let them cool before enjoying, because they will absorb scalding hot soup like sponges!
Buying & Storing
Fried bean curd can be found in the refrigerated section of the Chinese grocery. They come in various shapes, including triangles, squares, and cubes. With each shape, you’ll get a slightly different texture.
Store in the refrigerator and use before the expiration stamped on the package. Once opened, store in an airtight container and use within 3 days.
They can also be frozen for later use (we always have a pack in the freezer). For best results, use within 2 months and defrost before use.