Zongdu Tofu (Governor’s Tofu) – A dish related to Li Hongzhang

zongdu tofu

Zongdu Tofu (总督豆腐), also known as “Governor’s Tofu,” is a traditional and prestigious dish from Baoding, Hebei province, China, with a historical connection to the distinguished Qing Dynasty statesman, Li Hongzhang. Li Hongzhang was one of the most honored among the 74 provincial governors of the Qing Dynasty, renowned not only for his political acumen but also for his appreciation of fine cuisine and emphasis on nutrition.

The story of Zongdu Tofu begins when the official chef prepared a regular tofu dish using traditional cooking methods. However, Li Hongzhang found the dish lacking in satisfaction. In an effort to please the esteemed governor, the chef decided to elevate the tofu by adding ingredients like shrimp roe and dried scallops and prepared it anew. This time, Li Hongzhang was not just satisfied but greatly pleased with the dish. Consequently, this tofu creation became a staple in his diet. To honor him, the dish was named “Zongdu Tofu,” paying tribute to the influential official who appreciated and inspired its creation.

The ingredients for Zongdu Tofu typically include tofu, ground meat, dried scallops, shrimp roe, ginger, garlic, scallions, salt, monosodium glutamate (MSG), sugar, cooking wine, soy sauce, chili sauce, pickled chili peppers, and water starch.

Here are the steps to prepare this delectable dish:

  1. Cut the tofu into bite-sized pieces. Heat the cooking oil in a pan until it reaches about 60% of its full temperature, then turn off the heat. Fry the tofu pieces until they turn slightly golden. Remove them from the oil and set them aside.
  2. In the same pan, leave a small amount of oil, and stir-fry the ground meat until it’s separated and cooked. Add ginger, garlic, pickled chili peppers, and chili sauce, stir-frying until the oil turns red. Splash in the cooking wine and add soy sauce, a little water, sugar, and salt. Put in the shrimp roe, dried scallop shreds, and the fried tofu. Stir-fry the mixture evenly, then add a bit more water. Cook over high heat until the flavors meld, and then add MSG. Use water starch to thicken the sauce, and garnish with chopped scallions before serving.

Zongdu Tofu is characterized by its rich, savory flavors, tender tofu, and a beautiful golden appearance. This dish exemplifies the fusion of traditional Chinese ingredients with meticulous craftsmanship, resulting in a delectable dish that stands as a testament to the culinary heritage of Baoding and the influence of Li Hongzhang.

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