How To Make Douhuafan?
In Shenzhen’s urban village of Shangmeilin, tucked down an unassuming little alley, there’s my favorite restaurant in the whole city.
It’s a Sichuan joint, and while all the food’s great their specialty’s Douhuafan, which’s a southern Sichuan classic.
What you’re looking at is some freshly-made firm douhua, eaten together with a special sort of chili sauce.
That sauce isn’t just the standard fare, it’s packed with chilis, spices, and herbs then smothered over the tofu and downed with
So if you happen to know anyone out there that’s still a tofu skeptic, this dish would definitely make them a convert.
So today we wanted to show you how to make your own Douhuafan.
Now the word of warning that this is undeniably a more intense one we’ll show you how to make your Sichuan-style douhua from scratch, then also show you how to make that chili sauce, which isn’t exactly quick and easy either.
The good news is though that this by itself can feed a family, and if you do make it, you’ll be rewarded with what might be one of the tastiest dishes we’ve done on this channel yet.
How To Make Douhuafan?
So right, to get started with your Sichuan tofu rice, you’ll need soybeans.
This was 500 grams of dried soybeans, but before you do anything be sure to pick out any blackened or moldy beans.
If you happened to watch our how to make soymilk video, this’s all pretty much the same process give those a thorough rinse, then fill your bowl with water a couple of inches above the soybeans, and let those soak in the fridge overnight.
Now for the chili paste.
The specific type of paste that’s used for our sauce is called Xianglajiang.
Now, unfortunately, I don’t think this stuff’s available in the West if you can find some feel free to use it, it’ll definitely save
you some work.
That said, homemade is best, and all the douhua restaurants in Sichuan’ll make their own, so if you go from scratch, you’ll be in
So take 30 grams of chilis… these were Sichuan Erjingtiao chilis, but feel free to use Arbols or Cayennes.
No need to deseed, just take off any large stems, then reconstitute those with hot, boiled water.
After about an hour of soaking, they should be soft and pliable like this, so strain and toss in a large mortar.
Pound that for about five to ten minutes until it’s looking pretty pasty, then add in five tablespoons of Sichuan chili bean paste together with a half teaspoon of salt and pound for another five minutes.
You could also use a food processor for this too, just make sure you don’t go too fine with it, you’re looking for something about
this consistency in the end.
And now, to fry that paste.
So in a cool wok or cast iron pot, toss in a half a cup of oil soybean oil’s traditional here but you can also use peanut.
With the heat still off then, add in your chili paste and turn the flame to medium-low.
Our goal here’s to fry this paste until dry which takes a while.
So buckle in, keep that moving so it doesn’t burn and after about ten minutes you should see your chilis deepen in color and start
to resemble a bit of a paste – but, we’re still only about halfway there.
As you continue to cook it, the oil starts to absorb, the chilis begin to dry and crisp, and you’ll get this whole nice toasted
You’ll know the chilis are done once they sound sort of like packing sand something a bit like this.
Now set that aside, and we’ll come back to it in a second.
Now for our spices, we’ll first grind up a half teaspoon fennel seed, eight white cardamom pods, and just skip those if you can’t find
them, two-star anise, four grams of sand ginger and you can sub that with dried galangal, and one teaspoon of white pepper.
Grind those into a powder, and we’ll give those a fry.
So get another half cup of soybean or peanut oil up to a smoke point, then wait a minute or two till it’s down to about 185, then
toss in your spices.
Now traditionally in Sichuan, they’d actually just soak whole spices in cool oil for about four or five days forgive our shortcut,
but I promise this totally works.
Now just add that spiced oil to your chili paste, give it a mix, box it up, and leave that to sit at least overnight.
Next day now, your soybeans should be nice and plump.
Strain, then add those to a blender.
The ratio that we’re working with is eight parts water to one part soybean, so four liters of water in all.
Of course, unless you happen to own an industrial-sized blender you will need to do this in batches, we did three in all… just blend
each on high for four minutes, using the smoothie setting if you’ve got one.
Then transfer over to a large wok or stockpot, and we’re ready to make some tofu.
So step one to making homemade tofu is making soymilk.
As we discussed in our soy milk video, soybeans contain proteins called lectins which can cause food poisoning if not cooked out.
So over high heat, we’ve got to get this up to 100 degrees Celcius.
For this, it really helps to have a thermometer handy, because often soymilk will look like it’s boiling when it’s really just frothing.
So once it’s come up to temperature, swap the flame down to medium-high and continue to cook.
In the last soymilk video there were a number of people that were really perturbed by our scooping out of excess foam, so if that describes you, just know that you can alternatively prevent overflowing by obsessively ladling the soymilk over the foam.
Now after fifteen minutes, the soymilk’s good to go, so strain that through tofu or cheesecloth.
One of these cool tofu bags is ideal because we’ve got a lot of soymilk to work with.
Then, twist up the bag and squeeze to get every last drop pressing for about three minutes, macgyvering some solutions if need
Add all that back to a large pot, and then for step two: coagulation.
Now, there’s two primary tofu coagulants gypsum, which makes silken tofu and nigari, which makes regular tofu.
We’re gonna using nigari here – this stuff’s magnesium chloride and also called ‘Yanlu’ in Mandarin.
So in a nonreactive bowl add in ten grams worth together with twenty grams of water,and set that aside.
Now get your soymilk back up to 90 centigrade, the optimal temperature for working with nigari is between 85 and 90.
So then just shut off the heat and start to spoon in your mixture.
Go in five grams at a time, give the soymilk a quick stir, and do this three times total.
After the third time, you should start to feel a bit of resistance when mixing. so then spoon in only two grams at a time, and
just spread it around the surface.
We’re doing this in stages because depending on how much your soymilk reduced during cooking, you’ll likely need a little more or a little less coagulant.
What you’re looking for is the soymilk to form little popcorn sized solids at that point, you’ll stop, and for reference, here
we used 23 grams in all.
Now what you’re looking at here are some areas that are good and done and some that aren’t.
Clearwater means that part’s ready, so take some of that water and pour it over the remaining areas.
After a few minutes of that, your spatula should be able to lay on top of everything without sinking.
So then we can move on to step three pressing.
So to press, we’ll be using this little bamboo basket it’d be best if it had a flat bottom, but this is what we have.
So place the basket over the tofu it’ll start to sink in, and you can ladle out some of the liquid.
Now if you don’t have this exact sort of tofu basket feel free to get creative something like a fine mesh sieve should be able to do a
passable job as well.
Once your basket stops sinking by itself, you can press down on it, but gently – with about as much force as you’d massage your
No need to ladle out any more liquid at this point just keep pressing until it’s firm to your liking, about ten minutes more.
Now slice that into pieces, and we’ll finish up with the sauce.
So for that sauce, for each serving, we’ll be using two teaspoons of our homemade Xianglajiang chili sauce, about a half teaspoon of minced garlic, sliced scallions, and chopped cilantro a sprinkle of MSG to balance the heat, a half tablespoon of soy sauce, a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds, and a couple of drops of something that I know you can’t buy, Mujiangzi oil.
Mujiangzi oil’s made using the seeds of a variety of Litsea tree the flavor’s super similar to lemongrass though, so just use in a drop or two of lemongrass oil instead.
So in a little bowl add in a half teaspoon of salt together with the rest of the ingredients, and the sauce is good to go.
Now just take out your tofu, toss in a bowl, and eat that along with your sauce and rice, drinking the tofu liquid as a soup.
This stuff is crazy addictive, and’s probably my favorite tofu dish on the planet.
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