Hakka Stuffed Vegetable (CNY2020)
My late grandpa (mum’s father) is Cantonese Hakka, so my memory of home-cooking at my late grandparents’ is all about delicious Hakka cuisine my aunt prepared. Stuffed tofu and braised goose with pickled Chinese cabbage are my all-time favourite though I haven’t had them for quite a long time since they left us.
In the old days, grandma would plan the menu for New Year dinner weeks before and discussed with aunt who did most cooking on that day. And they would because since grandma always required a huge amount. This is her tradition, her way of feeding her children and grandchildren with food. There weren’t any dinner without leftover. But nothing would be wasted. We would take away whatever we liked. As a traditional typical Hakka man, grandpa wouldn’t do much housework. However he made the perfect stuffed tofu. And even when he was too weak to even walk, he would sit on sofa and make stuffed tofu all morning, watching TV. Mountains of stuffed tofu were pan-fried by aunt and later taken away by us. Read more about my early recipe of Hakka Stuffed Tofu.
Stuffing is the most popular cooking method of Hakka cuisine. Ground pork or fish are stuffed in tofu, tofu puff, eggplant, bitter melon, pepper, mushroom, or any other vegetable that has room to hold or wrap stuffing. In those important festivals, we tend to make a big amount and store in fridge, finish them within a week. Some families would deep-fry, kids like it. My family would do pan-fry, a more traditional way.
Filling ingredients –
Ground pork, 7 portions of lean meat and 3 portions of fat, 700g
Green and red pepper, 4
Lotus root, 1 segment
Fried tofu puff, 20
Seasoning ingredients –
Dried mini shrimp, 2tbsp
Soy sauce, 2tbsp
Ground white pepper, 1/2tsp
Garlic, 3 cloves
How to do –
1. Dried mini shrimps soaked in water for 5 minutes, then finely chopped;
2. In a big mixing bowl, put in ground pork, pressed ginger and garlic, chopped dried shrimp, and all seasoning ingredients, stir in one direction and mix well, if the filling is too dry, add in one whisked egg and mix well. set aside;
3. Prepare the vegetable
Lotus root – wash off all dirt on lotus root, cut off the link and trim off the hard ends, peel, and use a chopstick to clean the dirt inside the holes; cut into less than 1cm slices;
Pepper – wash then halve;
Fried tofu puff – wash and halve;
Eggplant – wash; slice on the diagonal but don’t cut all the way through, then for the second cut you cut through, about 1cm each slice;
4. Fill the tofu puff with pork filling, press down and roll round firmly; dust a thin layer of cornstarch on the vegetable to help glue the filling; fill the filling into the pepper hollow; fill the middle of eggplant slices with the filling; put some filling on the lotus root slice and press down firmly with small spoon so that the holes are filled with the filling; finally dust a thin layer of cornstarch on again;
5. Not let’s start cooking. I am using two pans and a little more oil than usual. Place the meat part down and pan-fry in medium heat, let them cooked thoroughly slowly; then flip to pan-fry the vegetable side.
I like to eat them with Sriracha sauce when they are freshly cooked. Or here are some more suggestions.
Stuffed tofu puff – cook with Napa cabbage, mushrooms and chicken broth;
Stuffed eggplant – braised and seasoned with Cantonese oyster sauce;
Stuffed lotus root and pepper – just reheat then sprinkle a pinch of salt, pepper and toasted sesame seeds.