As some of you may know, I’m half Shanghainese (my mom is Shanghainese). My mom is an amazing cook so I get to have many traditional Shanghainese dishes as I was growing up. Hong Shao Kao Fu (紅燒烤麩) is a classic Shanghainese vegan appetizer made from wheat gluten. Soft and sweet with a unique springy texture, it can be served hot or cold but traditionally it’s served cold.
What is Kao Fu?
Kao Fu is made from just wheat gluten and water, it is first leavened and then baked or steamed, resulting in a spongy texture with lots of air pockets. This is similar to seitan (a common meat substitute).
- 1 pc of dried wheat gluten/kao fu but into 3/4 inch, soak in warm water until soft
- 3 pcs shitake mushrooms, soak in warm water for 2 hours
- 1 small handful of dried wood ear mushrooms, soak in warm water until soft, about 15 mins
- Shredded carrots, around 20 sticks
- Edamame bean, a small handful
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 3 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
- 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 3 teaspoons coconut sugar
- 3 cups water/ vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- Heat oil in your wok over high heat. Add the ginger and fry for 30 seconds. Add the wheat gluten, and cook until slightly browned, about 2 minutes.
- Heat oil in your wok over high heat. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for 30 seconds. Add the kao fu, and cook until slightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, carrots and wood ear. Mix everything well. Then add the wine, soy sauces, sugar, sesame oil and water/ vegetable broth. Stir well and bring to a boil. Make sure there is enough sauce for the kao fu to soak up. It is like a sponge and can soak up a lot of liquid. Add more vegetable broth/ water and seasoning if the sauce dries up.
- Cover the pan, turn the heat to low, and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to prevent sticking. Add the edamame bean in the pan and cook for another 5 mins.