Fish fragrant tofu (Yu Xiang Tofu) or Chinese fish flavor tofu is tofu stir-fried with a Szechuan style hot sweet and sour sauce. It is commonly named as Sichuan hot garlic sauce in restaurant. It is one of most popular homemade tofu recipe from Sichuan Cuisine. And this 15 minutes dish is absolutely a perfect match with steamed rice. The fish fragrant sauce can help me eat up two large bowls of boring steamed rice.
It is very interesting this Yu Xiang, or fish fragrant sauce has no fish is this dish at all. There are two versions about the name. One saying is the sauce is usually used to cook fish at the very beginning, then it is further cooked with other ingredients including pork, eggplant, egg and tofu, so all dishes with this particular sauce is named as "Yu Xiang" dishes. The second saying is coming from the pickled peppers. Traditionally, fish is added in the jar of the pickled peppers, consequently the peppers are loaded with fish flavor. Since pickled pepper is used in this sauce, it is named after the flavor.
Tofu is always on the top of my ingredients. I love to drink soy milk and eat Mapo tofu very much. Fish fragrant sauce or yu shiang sauce (鱼香) is a famous flavor in Sichuan cuisine. And there are other dishes which are quite famous the taste including fragrant eggplant, you can check the recipe here Yu Xiang eggplant and the famous fish fragrant shredded pork or Yuxiang Rousi(鱼香肉丝).
Ingredients for Yu Xiang Sauce is similar to Mapo tofu using garlic, ginger, scallion, sugar, vinegar and chili paste. The differences are the seasoning ratio and the pickled peppers. Overall this is a sweet and sour sauce with a soft spice flavor. Even with a faint change, the flavors can be different, that's the key cooking concept of real Sichuan cuisine.
Yu Xiang flavor can be vegan friendly by skipping the mince pork. But if you are not on vegan diet, I highly recommend adding some mince pork, with a very small amount, it can improve the flavor greatly.
Add tofu into thick strips and then coat with cornstarch.
In a pan, add oil and fry tofu until crispy and golden brown.
Fry mince pork until crispy and slightly browned and then add doubanjiang and pickled pepper to fry until the oil turns red.
Then add garlic, ginger and scallion, fry until aromatic. Place the sauce in. Simmer for 2-3 minutes until the sauce is well thickened. Add tofu strips in, mix to coat each strip with Yu Xiang sauce.
Fish Fragrant Tofu
- 1 box of regular firm tofu , cut into thick strips
- ¼ cup mince pork
- 1 spring onions , white part and green part separated
- 2 garlic cloves , finely chopped
- 1 tbsp. chopped ginger , finely chopped
- 1 tbsp. chopped pickled pepper , cut into small sections
- ½ tbsp. doubanjiang
Yu Shiang Stir-fry sauce
- 1 tbsp. starch , recommend using sweet potato starch
- 1 tbsp. vinegar
- 2 tsp. light soy sauce
- 5 tbsp. water
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- ¼ tsp. salt
- Cut tofu into thick strips. Either larger or smaller. Then coat with cornstarch one by one.
- Prepare a bowl and mix the stir fry sauce together.
- Heat oil in pan and fry tofu strips until golden brown. Transfer out.
- Keep the oil and then fry minced pork until crisp and browned, slow down the fire, add doubanjiang and pickled peppers. Fry for a while until the oil turn reds.
- Add garlic, ginger and scallion in, fry until aromatic. Pour in the mixed sauce. Simmer for 2 minutes.
- Return fried tofu strips, mix well. Serve hot!
hi gourmet! 🙂 why is the recipe called fish-fragrant?.. I could´t find any fish souce in the ingredients. I am confused... by the way: I LOVE your website and tried quite a few recipes already. greets from Germany
Nice question!!! Really. There are lots of interesting Chinese dish names that are quite confusing. For this one, the sauce was firstly used to cook fish in family houses in Sichuan province. Then the sauce is further developed as a flavor, used on many other dishes like fish-fragrant tofu, fish-fragrant eggplant etc. And they are extremely popular in China now.
Thank you for this recipe. When I lived in Chongqing, 鱼香肉丝 and 鱼香茄子 were my favorites! Now I'm vegan, and back in the US, and I wanted to see if I could make the dish with tofu. I have some 鱼香肉丝调料 a friend in China sent me, but it has far too many calories and I'm not sure why... maybe too much oil? Anyway, I'll try your recipe and use some 豆瓣酱 to enhance the taste.
thank you for the many wonderful recipes on your website. 🙂 I was wondering if you use a special kind of wine and vinegar in this recipe or if any kind will do. Thank you.
I use very basic Chinese shaoxing wine and black vinegar.
Your use of very basic ingredients has transformed my own Chinese cooking. I don't follow recipes closely, only to review ingredients. Your philosophy, to cook simply instead of buying sauces at the store, has really helped me to understand your foods. The only sauce I still purchase is toban djan (but I mean to make it from scratch after seeing your recipe). Thank you so much for your wonderful way of thinking about food!
I feel so happy to read your comment because you really understand my points. I get complains from my friends outside China saying that no matter where they go, the dishes tastes almost the same in different areas and restaurants. Which should not be the fact for Chinese food because most of the chef does not use recipes, they cook based on personal experience and understanding about ingredients, sauces and rations. So dishes from different chef should be different in Chinese cuisine. The modernized cooking uses lots of all purpose sauce or store bought sauce, those sauce kill the possibility of advanced flavors totally. So I decided to share how I make my food using very basic ingredients.
Great recipe! Easy to follow and it was delicious!
I tried the recipe and my husband (being Asian and very skeptical about Asian recipes online) actually loved it as well. The only alteration was adding ground pork and using frozen Thai red peppers instead of pickling peppers. This gave a more spicy kick, but it was so yummy. I love fish tofu and this was a very simple and quick recipe to make for dinner.
Thanks Vue for the feedback. I use fresh Thai peppers for this dish from time to time too.
This was really great and pretty easy to make. Do you recommend using sweet potato starch to coat the tofu along with using in the sauce?
You can use any type of starch for coating.
There was another yûxiàng dòufu recipe before this, but now I can't find it. It was a braised tofu dish I think? Is it possible to find it in the archives possibly?
Sorry, Tavya. That version has already emptied.
I made this tonight with homemade tofu. I substituted minced mushrooms for the pork (since I don't eat meat) but kept everything else exactly the same, and it's one of the best things I've made OR eaten in a while! thank you so much for your excellent recipes.
I made this for dinner tonight using mushrooms instead of pork and a different vinegar than chinese black vinegar, but it was still delicious! I'm trying to eat more vegetarian food so this will definitely go into the rotation!
Happy cooking! I will try to post more vegetarian friendly recipe in the coming year.
We made this without the pork for a vegetarian option and it was still DELICIOUS! Also, I thought to myself 'no way' when I saw how quick the prep and cooking time was, but it really was so quick and easy. Thank you for this recipe!
I am so glad that you like this!!