Ding Tai Feng’s Honey Kaofu is one of my favourite dishes – not only is it vegetarian friendly but it is something that I will keep on munching while having conversations over meals. Every time, I told Joe that I wanted to try to make it at home. However, for the last couple of years, we were unable to do that. We do not know where to get the main ingredient Kao Fu, the wheat gluten. We attempted to make it ourselves but so far we weren’t satisfied with it yet. But a couple of months ago, we found it at a Chinese supermarket (Si Jia Ke), and without much thought, I just grabbed a bag from the freezer.
Braised wheat gluten, known as Kao Fu in Chinese, is widely known in Shanghai. The method is pretty simple like our granny old braised vegetable recipes. All you need are 6 ingredients and a pot to make this comfy dish.
Ingredients needed for braised Kao Fu
Not much technique is needed for this dish. Thus when it comes to the preparation of the ingredients, we always take more time in it. For this dish 6 main ingredients are needed, Kao Fu, dried shitake mushrooms, dried wood ear mushrooms, dried lily flower, roasted peanuts, and ginger.
- Kao Fu; as mentioned we picked this wheat gluten from the Chinese supermarket (Si Jia Ke)’s freezer. As it is frozen, you need to de-froze it and soak them in warm water till the puff rises up. Then cut them into a 1-inch cube for later use. If you are lucky to pick up some fresh Kao Fu, there’s no need to soak it.
- Dried Shitake Mushrooms; for our old reader, you should be familiar with these dried shitake mushrooms, as we love to braise them in our Asian food. We like to soak them ahead in the water overnight, while you can just soak them till they are slightly soft, but soaking them overnight for a richer flavour and smoother texture.
- Dried Wood Ear Mushrooms; play an important role here, they give the crunch that you need for this dish. You can easily find fresh ones in the local wet market. However, we have some dried ones at home, thus this time we use this. Unlike the mushroom, you do not need to soak it overnight. Soak in warm water till it is softened, which usually takes 30 minutes or less.
- Dried Lily Flower; when it comes to Asian vegetarian food, this dried lily flower is commonly found in many dishes. Like the wood ear mushroom, soak them in warm water till they soften before use. Remember to use warm water instead of cold ones. As warm water help to remove the impurify of these dried ingredients. Instead of cooking the straight lily flower, we tied a knot to make it nicer.
- Roasted Peanuts; for those who are allergic to nuts, you can remove this from the recipe. However, it does add a good texture to the dish. We got the raw peanut from the wet market’s dried goods store as it is much more affordable and roasted in the oven for 20 minutes at 180C.
- Ginger; while the seasoning gives flavour to the dish, the ginger help to remove the raw flavours we have in the wheat gluten and dried ingredients. It does affect the dish’s taste if you don’t add a slice of ginger.
While most of the ingredients can be prepared 30 minutes beforehand, you could also soak them ahead, drain the water well and store them in the fridge for later use.
All you need is a Clay Pot
We like to use clay-pot when it comes to braising our food. The clay generally takes longer to fully heat than a metal pot, but once it does, it retains that heat and allows for steady, gentle cooking. Thus a piece of good equipment to simmered, stewed, or braised your food.
Now that you have your ingredients and equipment ready you can start to cook them.
- 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.
- Add the mushrooms, wood ear, lily flower, and peanuts. Mix everything well. Then add the Shaoxing wine, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, 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).
Today is Mid-Autumn Festival, at here we hope everyone stays happy and healthy. The possibilities are endless – share with us your version! Take a photo of yours, send us an email, tag us on Instagram, tweet us, anything. We love to see yours!
Braised Wheat Gluten Kao Fu
2 pieces dried wheat gluten/Kao fu
(about 5” x 5” each: Soak in warm water until soft)
12 dried shiitake mushrooms (soaked in warm water until soft)
1/2 cup dried wood ear mushrooms (soaked in warm water until soft)
1/2 cup dried lily flower (soaked in warm water until soft)
3 tablespoons oil
3 slices ginger
¼ cup raw or roasted unsalted peanuts (shelled and skins removed)
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 sauce, 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).