Claypot Tofu is an exceptionally popular Chinese dish that is served piping hot in, as the name suggests, a claypot. There is another variation of Claypottofu which is served on a hot plate instead but both guarantees that the dish served to you is still sizzling and bubbling, having just been lifted fresh off the fire just minutes before. It is an absolutely divine dish that can be easily modified to suit your personal preferences - you can use broccoli or bok choy instead of snow peas, leave out the seafood and meat for a purely vegetarian version, use button mushrooms or oyster mushrooms instead of shiitake mushrooms, add other ingredients such as frozen corn or peas, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes etc. Whatever you wish to have in your claypot tofu, just go ahead and include it! Just be sure to always have tofu in the dish because it wouldn't be claypot tofu without the tofu, right?
So you know how one-pot dishes are now all in the rage (thanks to Pinterest)? I could say that Claypot Tofu is kinda the Chinese one-pot dish because everything comes together and cooks in the same pot. It is a combination of a stir-fry and a braised dish - first you stir-fry the vegetables, then you add the sauce with some water, thicken it, add the star of the dish - the tofu - and let it cook in the thickened sauce.
Whenever I used to order claypot tofu at a restaurant, I notice that they would always have the carrots cut in a beautiful flower design. When I was cutting the vegetables up to cook this, I thought I would try making the similar design on the carrots as well, and even though it was my first time crafting vegetables, I have to say it was pretty easy! Firstly, you remove the outer layer of the carrots, cut out the sides of the carrot (picture below), and then simply slice it thinly.
Another thing that restaurants do in the claypot tofu dish is they will add a thin layer of egg at the bottom of the dish that will soak up the delicious sauce so that when you finish everything else on top, you will be left with a little "gift" at the end - a wonderfully tasty egg omelette, perfect way to end the meal.
As for the tofu that is typically used in this dish, we would go for the egg tofu that is sold in supermarkets in a cylinder packaging. What happens when you want to cook this egg tofu is that you cut through the packaging in the center of the length of the tofu with a sharp knife and gently push the tofu out. Then, slice it up (picture below). Take note not to cut it up too thinly as it will break very easily. Before we add the tofu to the rest of the dish, they are to be pan-fried in a little oil first to achieve a gorgeous golden brown colouring as well as a little crunch on them.
Well, hope you are ready to get started on this versatile and delicious dish! Like I mentioned before, you can easily replace the ingredients to suit your personal liking - eg. broccoli, frozen corn, other types of mushroom, eggplant, bok choy, choi sum, long peas, zucchini, cucumbers, ground chicken or pork, fish slices, squid, or add some fresh chillies for a kick. Serve with steamed white rice and the perfect meal is complete!