Sharing one of my family’s favorite Taiwanese dish to order when eating out – San Bei Tofu or Three-cup tofu. This dish is normally made using silken soft tofu and sauteed with lots of Thai basil and ginger for the aromatic flavor. Today, I made mine using firm tofu and the result is amazing as well.
What is Three-cup tofu (San Bei tofu)?
Three-cup is a direct translation from San Bei (三杯). It’s made from the three main ingredients: soy sauce, toasted sesame oil and cooking wine and it doesn’t really require a cup of each, that’ll be too much. Please see my recipe with an adjusted of each ingredient which gives you a balance of sweetness, saltiness, and a touch of spiciness.
Other Key ingredients
- Thai Basil – gives this dish that aromatic flavor which goes so well with sauteed ginger and garlic. It’s highly recommended to use Thai Basil, but can be substituted with sweet basil.
- Ginger – one of my favorite roots! Slightly charred ginger in toasted sesame oil is so tasty and when paired with soy sauce, it releases a wonderful taste that goes well with rice.
Tips for Crispy tofu
- Cut tofu into cubes, pressed with a paper towel to remove as much moisture as possible but not too dry. You’ll still need some moisture cornstarch can stick to it.
- Coat tofu generously with cornstarch and gently press cornstarch onto the tofu so they stick together
- Pan-fry tofu in low-medium heat until crispy on all sides.
Three-cup tofu is:
- Easy to make
- Kids friendly
- Customizable (replace tamari for gluten-free or remove chili for non-spicy version)
If you try this recipe, I would love to hear your feedback and see your beautiful re-creation. Leave me a comment, rate it, and tag @woon.heng and #woonheng to your photos on Instagram or Facebook. Happy cooking, friends!
Three-cup Tofu – San Bei tofu ‘三杯豆腐’
- 14 oz [397g] extra-firm or firm tofu pressed
- 8-10 slices [35g] ginger
- 5 cloves garlic sliced
- 1 red jalapenõ chopped (or any chili)
- 1 cup packed fresh Thai basil sub with basil or adjust to your preference
- corn starch for coating
- a handful of chopped scallion/green onion
- oil for cooking
- 3 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine Michiu or use rice wine/dry sherry/vegetable broth
- 3 tablespoons light soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 cup [60g] water
- Mix the sauce ingredients in a bowl until well combined and set aside.
- To prepare the tofu, pat the tofu dry with paper towels and cut into cubes. Place 1/4 cup corn starch in a shallow bowl.
- Preheat a non-stick pan with 2 tablespoons oil (adjust depending on the size of your pan).
- Roll tofu cubes in corn starch, be sure all sides are well coated.
- Using a spatula, place tofu cubes into the heated pan and shallow pan-fry each side until golden brown. Remove & set aside.
- Using the same pan with the remaining oil (add more if needed), sauté ginger until fragrant, or until it is slightly crispy on the side.
- Then, add garlic, chili, chopped scallions and continue to sauté until aromatic.
- Slowly pour in the sauce, turn heat to medium, and let it simmer for 30secs.
- Add in the tofu, basil and give it a quick toss until tofu is well-coated with the sauce.
- Turn off the heat and serve warm with rice.