Teochew Beancurd Roll – Whip it UP!
Guan Jiang or vegetarian beancurd roll, is a traditional Teochew delicacy that is usually served during major festivals and birthdays. This delicious morsel is usually homecooked but hard to find commercially as preparation is tedious. The key ingredient is shredded turnip, but variations include yam and radish. The filling is first seasoned and wrapped in beancurd skin, then steamed and fried. Dip rolls into garlic chilli sauce or black sweet sauce – or both. Make a double batch and freeze rolls for a quick tasty appeitiser.
Total Time: 3 hours
Yields: 34 rolls
A: Main Ingredients
3kg jicama/turnip, peeled & coarsely shredded
50g dried Chinese mushrooms, soaked & diced into small cubes
150g roasted peanuts, coarsely crushed
50g Chinese celery, finely chopped
600g rice flour
3-4 sheets beancurd skins, each cut into 9 smaller pieces
4 teaspoons sea salt
4 teaspoons ground white pepper
C: Oil For Frying
1. Retain 200ml of mushroom soaking water to mix with shredded turnip. This adds more flavour to the filling.
2. Wash celery thoroughly to remove grit and dirt before chopping.
3. Place shredded turnip into a large mixing bowl. Squeeze to extract 2 rice bowls of juice. Drink it up or use it to stir fry vegetable dishes.
4. Add mushrooms, peanuts, Chinese celery and seasoning.
Using both hands, give mixture a good and thorough mix.
5. Pinch some to taste. At this point, add more salt and white pepper to suit your taste.
It is okay for filling to be a little on the salty side as the addition of rice flour next will reduce saltiness.
6. Add rice flour and toss in extra peanuts, if desired. Mix until well incorporated and then you can begin wrapping.
7. Place beancurd skin diagonally, put 2 heaped spoonfuls of mixture in the middle — pack it tightly – this yields a more satisfying bite. Wrap like a spring roll or ngoh hiang. If you prefer a fatter version, use 3 heaped spoonfuls.
8. Bring 2 litres of water to a rolling boil in a wok or bamboo steamer. Steam beancurd parcels between 20 to 30 minutes: small ones for 20 minutes and larger rolls for 30 minutes.
9. Immediately transfer rolls onto a wire mesh or bamboo rack to dry. This helps skin to stay crisp after frying.
10. Slice each roll into large pieces. Heat up oil in a frying pan. Pan fry over low to medium heat until golden, about 30 seconds or less. They burn easily, so keep a watchful eye while they cook. Drain on paper towels before serving. Alternatively, do not cut extra rolls but fry them whole.
11. Serve fried slices of guan jiang with dark sweet sauce and/or garlic chilli sauce.
12. Store extra rolls, if any, in the freezer. Defrost and warm them up before serving.
TIPS: Using a damp cloth, clean both sides of beancurd skins to remove excess salt and to soften them for easy wrapping. *Madam Sim, 79 years old, continues to use her trusted Chinese rice bowl as a measuring unit as it has proven to be a reliable and tried and tested tool for over 2 decades. She inherited this recipe from her mother-in-law.
BUYING TIP: Chinese celery, with roots (shui qin) which has hollow succulent stems and characteristic celeriac aroma is favoured by Asian cooks for its calming and cooling properties. Albeit being a little grassy, yet aromatic, this celery is ideal for this recipe as it has more pronounced flavours than the coriander a.k.a cilantro (xiāngcài).
TECHNIQUE: Keep steamed guan jiang overnight and fry them the next day. They are even tastier as flavours would have had a chance to develop.
Photos: Jane Autumn Lee, Evonne Lyn Lee