Toona sinensis aka Chinese Toon or 香椿 xiang chun

June 10, 2011 § 3 Comments

I’m excited to introduce Chinese Toon. Before this post, I only knew this vegetable/herb by its Chinese name. I have never seen it sold or grown in the U.S. as pictured; only in its dried form and even that is rare. In fact, I didn’t even know what this looked like until a family friend gave us a batch from her garden. It was an exciting day. 🙂

Imagine growing up eating and loving cilantro, but not knowing its name or what it looked like. That’s how I feel about xiang chun.  It has a strong distinct flavor with a similar strength as garlic. It can be a great complement to a dish or overwhelming if you don’t like the taste (similar to onion or chives). I can eat it with everything!

It is predominately used in Asian cuisine, mainly Chinese. I have had it with tofu, eggs, stir-fries, noodles, rice and savory Chinese pancakes. All delicious!

To Prepare:

Step 1: fold the leaves in half and tear them off the branch from the stem (this will leave the root behind)

Step 2: after washing, mince leaves

Step 3: transfer to container, sprinkle salt to bring out juices, mix and seal (the true flavor of xiang chun will not come out till this step)

You can then save this for future use in tofu, stir-fries, noodles, fried rice or pancakes.

Next time you come across Toona sinensis aka Chinese Toon or 香椿 xiang chun, you’ll know how to use it or at least have a new dish to try at your favorite Chinese restaurant. Be sure to ask for it in its Chinese name, xiang chun. Here’s the wiki page to learn more.

Enjoy!

xiang chun with dried tofu (not dry in taste, rather tofu with much less moisture)

Tofu Pudding (dou hua)

May 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

dou hua from V.P. Tofu

When I tell people I’m vegetarian, one question always follows. What do you eat, tofu?

Why is tofu always the enemy? Tofu’s been nothing but amazing to me. I’ve had it in countless dishes- sautéed, fried, boiled, steamed, salty, sweet and spicy. It never disappoints.

A few years ago, V.P. Tofu opened in Monterey Park, Los Angeles. They make fresh tofu (medium, firm, fried) and soy milk (sweetened and unsweetened) daily. When I’m in the area, I go for the tofu pudding (dou hua). They sell 12 ounces for only $1.25.

Video shows you how much of a pain it is to make fresh soy milk and tofu. The music doesn’t help.

Dou hua is an Asian tofu dessert. It has a smooth silky texture and melts in your mouth. Traditionally, it’s served hot with a sweet ginger syrup. Typically, you can find this prepackaged in Asian supermarkets with the tofu and syrup separated or at dim sum restaurants.

One variation that you can’t find in the markets is the pandan flavored dou hua. V.P. only makes this on weekends. Pandan is a a green plant that has a distinct yet subtle flavor. The green color and flavor is found in Southeast Asian desserts and is often paired with coconut.

pandan flavored dou hua with coconut milk

If you are near a Chinatown or in the Los Angeles area, I suggest giving dou hua a chance. It’s good to try it and even better to try it fresh!

I don’t recommend following these instructions. Another How To link. I can guarantee that you will not enjoy dou hua. If you don’t have an Asian market near you, please wait till you (1) go to Asia or (2) go to a city that has dou hua available.

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