Dian Dou Hua, the Yunnan Version of Custard
Another specialty of Yunnan Province, Dian Dou Hua (豆花), or Dofu Hua (豆腐花) is literally translated as bean curd flower.
Dou Hua is soft, warm tofu served covered with toppings that add crunch and flavour. This popular Chinese snack or addition to a meal is custardy tofu topped with a variety of tangy toppings from mild flavours of green onion, soy sauce, and sesame oil to intensely flavored chilli oil, pickled vegetables, and stir-fried meat mixtures. The toppings are savoury, spicy, tart, and rich.
My first experience with Dian Dou Hua was in a Kunming restaurant called Square Street Restaurant near the International Conference Centre and the old Kunming Airport. This place serves up traditional local Yunnan/Kunming cuisine and they offer the most refreshing bright yellow and light German Beer made at their own microbrewery. The Dian Dou Hua must be ordered in advance (ordered in the morning for a dinner reservation). It comes to the table in a very hot crock-pot that has been cooked in a very hot and larger cooking crock-pot with many other orders of this simple yet delicious delicacy.
At the table, one must wait about 10 minutes for the dofu to do it’s thing – that is, it arrives in liquid form and congeals to a soft, custard-like consistency, just like ‘baby food’ – and smooth as silk. Once it sets up, the Dian Do Hua is ladled out into small bowls and served with a spicy, chilli oil sauce containing small amounts of ground meat, pickled vegetables and chopped chillies. I’m not much for spicy but in this province, the word is ‘spicy’ for most dishes and I am getting used to the attraction of hot and spicy. The combination of the smooth, mushy dofu and the crunchy, spicy topping is enchanting.
Perhaps they do the same thing here in Kunming, but I’ve never see it but in Sichuan Province in Chengdu, Dou Hua vendors carry a pole across their shoulders with two large baskets attached at either side. One of the baskets contains the steaming Dian Dou Hua and the other contains the bowls and fixings. First, the tofu is spooned out and then some ground Sichuan pepper or prickly ash is added. Then a sprinkle of MSG, a tablespoon of soy sauce, chili oil, chopped preserved vegetables, bits of ground meat, crunchy dried soybeans, and last of all chopped green onion.
Last time I was at the Square Street Restaurant I took home a small container of the special sauce that they use. There is a dofu seller in my local wet market and I know they sell Dian Dou Hua. I wanted the same taste but eaten at home so today I purchased a 12-ounce cup of Dian Dou Hua for one yuan (the equivalent of 16 cents), heated it up slightly in the microwave along with a spoon of sauce and enjoyed a gorgeous mix of texture and taste of Yunnan for lunch.
Posted on Wednesday, August 22, 2012, in Chinese Cookbook, Recipes and tagged chillies, Chinese cooking, Chinese food, cooking, Dian Dou Hua, dofu, dou hua, food, homemade, restaurants, spicy, spicy chilli, tofu, travel, vegetarian, Yunnan food, Yunnan Province. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.