Hakka yong tau foo bitter gourds and eggplants

Hakka yong tau foo firm bean curds

750 g fish paste
600 g pork minced
1 – 1/2 heaped teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
freshly ground white pepper
10 pieces square firm tofu, cut half diagonally, make a small slit on the cut side, dig out and keep the flesh
10 pieces tau foo pok (deep fried tofu balls), cut half diagonally, make a small slit on the cut side, dig out and keep the flesh
3 medium long eggplant, slice at an angle, slice horizontally almost to the edge
3 small bitter gourd, remove seeds and slice at an angle
about 3 cups vegetable oil for deep frying
a small bowl of salted water

In a small cup, mix the salt with the water well. Set aside the salted water. Meanwhile, add about 1/3 of the salt water, firm taufoo and tau foo pok flesh and a dash of pepper to the mince pork and paste; continue stirring the mince and paste to mixing well until the salt water is used up. Refridgerate with cling foil the mixture of mince and paste to harden it a bit. Then prepare other items for stuffing.

Bring paste and mince to room temperature, Use a teaspoon or fingers to stuff the tofu (be extra gentle with this one), fried tofu balls and vegetables. The amount of paste to use varies, bitter gourd use up more filling. Clean up the edges and smooth out the fish paste with some salted water. (Avoid overstuffing the tofu and vegetables as they may tear/break during frying.

In a large wok, heat up oil over medium heat and fry the stuffed items by batches, starting with the vegetables and ending with the fresh tofu. Lay the stuffing side down to cook the mince/paste, then flip over and around to cook the vegetable/tofu, about 7-9 minutes each side as meat cooks slower than just fish. The tau foo pok is already cooked, this will take the shortest time.

Ensure oil is hot enough for deep frying to avoid oil-clogged results. Drain the fried items on kitchen towels before transferring them to the serving platter. Serve with plain white rice or noodle soup such as white curry noodle.

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