Fish paste is available at most Asian grocery stores and most Asian fishmongers would actually make their own 'ready to cook' version. If you want to make your own fish paste at home, then this post by Red Cook would probably be what I would recommend.
The fish paste I buy from the fishmonger is already seasoned. If you aren't sure if yours are, drop a teaspoonful of the paste into some hot boiling water and taste it. If it isn't seasoned, then add in about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and mix well.
The cling wrap used while steaming helps to keep the water from the condensation out of the tofu. This is an optional process as you can always just pour the water out. But after the time when I lost one of the tofu pieces.. it fell into the sink as I was trying to pour the water out.. doh!.. I've just used the cling wrap method instead. If you are employing this method, use a good quality known brand cling wrap, like GLAD or something similar, so that it wouldn't break and will survive the steaming temperatures.
This dish is like a steamed version of 'Yang Tau Foo' - which is like a fried tofu stuffed with fish paste - that I've had in Singapore before.
Steamed Tofu with Fish Paste & Black Bean Topping
makes 6 pieces
For the Tofu:
- 6 pieces of silky tofu (usually 1/2 the packet)
- 300g fish paste
- dash white pepper
- 1 teaspoon cornflour
For the Topping:
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 heaped teaspoon fermented black beans (coarsely chopped)
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon Chinese cooking wine (Shaoxing wine recommended)
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili (finely chopped) - optional
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Fresh Coriander and Spring Onions (finely sliced diagonally) - Optional
- In a bowl, mix the fish paste with the white pepper and cornflour.
- Place a piece of tofu on your palm, then using a butter knife or a small spatula, take some of the fish paste mixture and spread it over the top of the tofu.
- Repeat until all the fish paste has been evenly divided amongst the pieces of tofu. Arrange on a plate and cover with cling wrap ready for steaming.
- Bring some water to boil in a wok and place a steamer rack inside.
- While you are waiting for the water to boil, prepare the black bean topping.
- In a small bowl, add the garlic, fermented black beans, light soy, sugar, Chinese rice wine and chilli (if using) and mix well.
- Once the water in the wok is boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low and place the plate of tofu on top of the steamer rack. Steam for about 10 mins, until you can see the fish paste is no longer transparent and is cooked.
- While the tofu is steaming, in a small saucepan, pour in 1/2 of the oil and turn the heat on high.
- Once the oil from the saucepan is steaming hot, pour it over the garlic and black bean mixture. This will cook the black bean and garlic.
- After 10 mins, remove the plate from the wok and discard the cling wrap.
- Pour in the remaining vegetable oil back into the same saucepan and place it back on high heat.
- Carefully spoon on top of the fish paste about 2 teaspoons of the black bean and garlic mixture. Drizzle the remaining soy sauce over the tofu pieces.
- Garish with coriander and some finely sliced spring onions.
- Once the oil is hot, remove from the heat and carefully pour (bit by bit) over the coriander and spring onions so that it sizzles and cooks. This helps to release the aroma and also makes the strong flavour of fresh coriander a bit more subtle.