Oyster Sauce Tofu is a delightful vegetarian main course that is light and healthy. My dad used to make oyster sauce tofu often. I was always so surprised by how a few simple ingredients could result in such a tasty dish. Often, the most humble dishes are the most delicious ones.
Early last year, we moved my 92-year old Aunt Mae to Connecticut from Queens, New York. She has never been married, and has no children. Although I was not very close with my aunt before we moved her up to Connecticut, I have gotten to know her much better. She has many stories to share from her childhood and her working days. Imagine how much wisdom and experience a 92-year old person must have compared to the average person.
Aunt Mae has a great sense of humor and often tells me how mischievous she used to be, even as a child. Although I haven’t been able to figure out exactly what her profession used to be, I’ve gathered that she worked her way up in management, and was very good at trouble shooting and problem solving. I try to visit my aunt each week to sit and just listen to her tell the same stories over and over again. It’s sweet how she enthusiastically retells her stories, as if for the first time.
In this world today where everything is going at such a fast clip, I fear people don’t make the time to share family stories with their kids, and kids don’t take the time to sit and listen patiently to these stories if they are told. I know I haven’t shared nearly enough of my own stories with my kids. This holiday season, when everyone is around, I am going to try to share at least a few new stories with my children. As young adults, they actually seem more curious and interested in hearing my stories.
I started making this Oyster Sauce Tofu dish for her earlier this year after she told me how much she loved tofu. She insisted that everyone must love tofu since it is so good. At the time, she said this in front of the staff at the assisted living home she is staying at. They all had puzzled looks, as either (1) they didn’t know what tofu was; or (2) they don’t like tofu nearly as much as Aunt Mae.
Tofu, also called bean curd, doesn’t have much flavor by itself, but it absorbs sauces extremely well. Tofu is a good source of protein, and is wonderful for a meatless meal option.
I used a medium firm tofu, but you can use firm or a softer tofu. The firmer the tofu, the better it will hold its shape when cooked. If you don’t care about this, then soft tofu is certainly an option.
After tofu braises in this oyster sauce mixture, it softens up and takes on the sauce’s flavor.
I remember watching my dad make this simple tofu dish a number of years ago. My dad was a great cook. His cooking repertoire was not as diverse as my moms, but he had certain special dishes that he made. This Oyster Sauce Tofu dish was one of them. Two others were his Chinese Sticky Honey Spareribs and smoked meats similar to this Tea Smoked Chicken.
This tofu recipe is vegetarian and vegan adaptable. Just substitute vegetable broth and vegetarian oyster sauce.
Oyster Sauce Tofu
- 700 grams tofu 1 pound 8 ounce package
- 2 teaspoons oil
- 1 slice ginger peeled, minced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 scallion trimmed, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth water can used instead if you don't have broth
- 3 tablespoons oyster sauce use vegetarian oyster sauce if desired
- 2 teaspoons rice wine
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
Cut tofu into bite-size squares (about 3/4"). Set aside.
Heat oil in large skillet. Add ginger, garlic and white parts of chopped scallion. Saute until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
Add broth, oyster sauce, and rice wine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.
Stir together cornstarch and water to make a slurry. Stir into tofu to thicken gravy. Drizzle with sesame oil and sprinkle with green parts of chopped scallion.