“Black salt can make tofu taste like eggs.” First time I heard that, I thought “Really? How?” I must try this myself. I looked all over locally for black salt but sadly it was nowhere to be found.
Then one day, a spice vendor popped up at the farmers market of all places and they had it. Even though it’s called black salt, it’s actually purplish pink in color. I had no idea there’s more than one type of black salt, the one to get is called Kala Namak or Sanchal or Indian Black Salt. Originally used in authentic Indian cooking, the mineral salt has a strong, sulfuric flavor and aroma, kinda like hard-boiled eggs.
Now, that I have said salt in my possession, what to do with it? I decided on a blast from the past. Growing up, my parents ran a Chinese-American restaurant that served egg foo young. I remember it all too well.
Along with my siblings, one of our jobs was to finely chop up the celery and onions that went into the patties. And bean sprouts, which we chopped up with an empty can. And lots and lots of eggs and flour.
Mom or Dad would mix it all up together and used an ice cream scoop to portion out each patty onto a hot griddle. It was later deep-fried to order and topped with brown gravy and green onions.
For a vegan version, I swapped out the eggs for tofu and added some of my favorite ingredients – fresh shiitake mushrooms, leeks and water chestnuts. Baked instead of pan-fried, it’s so much better and flavorful than the eggy version. It’s good with or without the gravy.
Tofu “Egg” Foo Yung
Makes 8-10 patties
6 fresh shiitake mushrooms, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 medium leek, white and some green part, chopped
3 ounces water chestnuts
1 teaspoon oil
14 ounce package of extra-firm tofu
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon or to taste kala namak
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 stalk green onion, chopped, for garnish
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Drain and rinse the tofu, wrap in paper towels and place a heavy weight on top. Press for about an hour. While the tofu is pressing, chop the vegetables.
Heat a wok to hot. When hot, add the oil and swirl to coat the wok. Add the celery and leeks, sauté for a few minutes, add the mushrooms and water chestnuts and cook for another minute or so. Place in a bowl and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Crumble the tofu, add the rest of the ingredients and blend well together. Scoop out a 1/4 cup of the mixture and shape into a patty on a oiled baking sheet. Brush the top of each patty with oil, flip over and brush the other side. Bake for 15 minutes, gently flip over and bake another 15 minutes.
To make the gravy, heat the broth with the soy sauce and sugar. Combine the cornstarch with a little bit of cold water and mix until smooth. When the broth comes to a boil, slowly add the cornstarch mixture and stir to desired thickness.
Top the foo yung with gravy and garnish with the green onions, serve immediately.
Where to find kala namak?
The vendor at the farmers market is a local company, Spice Hound, for their 2.5 oz jar, it was $7.00. I have since found the black salt labeled as Sanchal at an Indian market for cheaper. Also available online at Amazon from a number of vendors.