Iron Plate Toban Tofu and eggplant

Cooking ingredients

Cooking oil, 3 tablespoons

Hard tofu, about 270g, cut into triangular shapes

Eggplant 100g, sliced 0.5 cm thick

2-3 shiitake mushrooms, sliced 0.5 cm thick

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon chopped ginger

Toban paste, 1 tablespoon

1 tablespoon sugar

½ cup water

A small bunch of basil


1. Prepare a flat pan for cooking – for example, a cast iron pan or a frying pan. Place it on the stove top and add the cooking oil to the pan. Adjust the stove to medium heat.

2. Gently place the tofu triangles, sliced eggplant and shiitake mushroom into the pan, wider side down. Heat the tofu and eggplant for about 5 minutes each side until the side is browned. Don’t move the tofu unnecessarily, because it breaks easily.
3. Note that bubbles forming in the oil around the edges of the tofu indicate that it is getting crispy and that it will soon be ready to turn over to cook the other side. You can also turn the tofu triangles onto their smaller sides briefly to brown those as well, if you wish.

4. When eggplant and shiitake are brown and soft, turn it to the other side, and add the garlic and ginger, and keep cooking.
5. When the tofu is sufficiently crispy and browned, and eggplant and shiitake mushroom are nicely brown, at this point you should be able to smell a pleasant aroma from the pan.

5. Then you can add the toban paste, sugar and water, cover the lid, allow the ingredients to simmer for a few minutes.

6. Before turning off the heat, taste the flavor to check it is well balanced. You can add a little more sugar if it is too spicy, or add some more water if it is too salty.

7. Sprinkle the basil on top, and toss to spread it around. Then turn off the heat.

8. This is ‘iron plate tofu’, so you usually serve it in the pan. Just take the pan to the table and put it on a wooden board or something similar that is heatproof. You can let it cool a little first, if you prefer.


What is toban paste?

Toban paste is made from fermented soybeans, broad beans, and chili. In Taiwan some of the toban pastes tend to be a little bit sweeter. The Chinese name is 豆瓣醬

1. When you cook with toban paste, check how spicy, salty, and sweet it is first. If it is too spicy, add a little sugar to balance. Add no more paste than necessary, to avoid making your dish too salty.

2. The flavor of tofu is usually plain. The texture of eggplant is similar to a sponge. Toban paste is suitable for both tofu and eggplant, it gives the plain tofu and absorbent eggplant a rich flavor. Just before we finish this dish, you will notice we add water to the pan and simmer for few minutes, until the tofu and eggplant are well cooked and flavored.


Preparing the eggplant.

1. For this dish, we use Asian eggplant, it is tender and juicer. You can cook it without soaking in the salt water.

2. Restaurants usually deep fry eggplant before stir-frying it with sauce and other ingredients.

3. Deep fried eggplants soak a lot of oil. In this recipe, we cut the eggplant to appropriate size, then toast until it’s cook.

Some tips

1.You can replace the tofu with chopped fish, chicken or pork.

2. Slicing the tofu into triangle shapes looks nice, and gives it more area to get fried and crispy.

3. You can use various types of mushrooms, such as trumpet mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, button mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, or dry shiitake mushrooms.

4. Basil can be replace with coriander or green onion.

5. In Chinese, the name of this dish is Tie Ban Do Fu, which is pronounced something like ‘Tee-ay Ban Dough Foo’. This can be translated into English literally as ‘Iron Plate Tofu’, or in other ways such as ‘Hotplate Fried Tofu’. In Chinese it is written 鐵板豆腐. The basic style of cooking is very similar to Japanese Teppanyaki.






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