If you want to know which side dish Chinese people feature regularly at their dinner table, then you’ll find your answer right here. Stir Fried Water Spinach with Fermented Bean Curd is a vibrant and exceptionally delightful family favourite that I could eat EVERY SINGLE DAY.
There’s just something so innately magical about stir frying that elevates your plain ol’ veggies from simply average to seriously amazing. Stir Fried Water Spinach with Fermented Bean Curd is one of those dishes where there are NEVER any leftovers after we’re done with it!
What is water spinach?
Pronounced ‘ong choy’ in Cantonese, water spinach is a tropical plant with delicate leaves and shoots which can be found growing in water or in damp soil. When you bite into it, its flavour is fairly mild, making it a popular choice for stir fries.
Water spinach is firm yet still tender because the shoot is hollow inside. The most amazing part is that it will retain its crunch if cooked using the right temperatures!
Not only will you get an incredible textural experience, but the leaves are an optimal soaking tool and act as a flavour sponge, ensuring that each bite will contain the essence of the dish’s sauce!
Did you say FERMENTED bean curd?
If you go into a Chinese pantry, you’ll likely find a jar of fermented bean curd (腐乳) tucked safely away like a hidden gem. It’s one of those quick and easy condiments that will go with SO many things! Fermented bean curd also goes by the name ‘fermented tofu’ but the ones that hold the dearest places in our hearts are the red fermented bean curd (红腐乳) and the white fermented bean curd (白腐乳). For this Stir Fried Water Spinach and Fermented Bean Curd recipe, we’ll be using the white version.
Fermented bean curd is made by preserving tofu in different seasonings and liquids such as salt, chilli, rice wine and sesame oil. This results in a smooth cheese-like cube that has a similar pungent punch as some cheeses. If you want to an experience close to home, you can’t skip on this well-loved ingredient!
Why I LOVE this stir fry duo
Think of water spinach as an empty canvas. It offers a great mouthfeel (that inherent vegetable crunch) and the ability to absorb ALL the aromas of the wok. Why wouldn’t you pair it with a robust ingredient that will make the leaves sing in all its glory?
Plus, this is probably one of the easiest stir fries to whip up! Let’s go!
What you'll need for this quick stir fry
How to make this stir fry come to life
Begin by dividing the water spinach into smaller sections. I usually go for lengths of about 5cm or 2″ long. Grandma also likes to rip the tips of the leaves off so that the softest parts remain.
Wash and dry the water spinach. We use our trusty colander for the drip drying process.
Mash the fermented bean curd with some of the liquid from the jar until it becomes a paste. It may be a little smelly at this point, but trust me, you’ll find a slice of our home in this dish!
Heat up the oil in a wok or pan then add the garlic and chilli in.
Over a high heat, add the water spinach and continuously stir fry.
When the water spinach has slightly softened, add the fermented bean curd paste and chicken bouillon powder.
Give it a few quick tosses until the flavours have mixed in well then immediately transfer onto a serving dish. The longer you cook it for, the softer it will get. We love our water spinach flavourful and crunchy so we take it out as soon as it’s done!
Make sure to enjoy this simple and easy dish with a bowl of rice!
Stir Fried Water Spinach with Fermented Bean Curd (炒腐乳空心菜)
- Divide the water spinach into smaller sections. I usually go for lengths of about 5cm or 2" long.
- Rip the tips of the leaves off so that the softest parts remain.
- Wash and dry the water spinach. Use a colander for the drip drying process.
- Mash the fermented bean curd until it becomes a paste.
- Heat up the oil in a wok or pan then add the garlic and chilli in.
- Over a high heat, add the water spinach and continuously stir fry.
- When the water spinach has slightly softened, add the fermented bean curd paste and chicken bouillon powder.
- Give it a few quick tosses until the flavours have mixed in well then immediately transfer onto a serving dish.
- Serve with cooked rice.