Pinakbet with Wild-Fermented Beancurd

Colourful Filipino vegetable stew with pumpkin, eggplant, bittergourd, long beans, and okra. Homemade wild-fermented beancurd is used as a substitute to shrimp bagoong in this vegan version.

Servings: 4 servings
Author: Sabrina @ Straits Road Kitchen
Ingredients
Wild-Fermented Beancurd
  • 400 g (14 oz) firm tofu
  • 15 g (1 tbsp) Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  • 120 g (1/2 cup) filtered water
  • 56 g (1/4 cup) Shaoxing rice wine or mirin
  • 40 g (1/4 cup) cold-pressed sesame oil (to create a seal on top of the tofu and brine)
Pinakbet (Filipino Vegetable Stew)
  • 15 g (1 tbsp) Wild-Fermented Beancurd
  • 60 g (8 no) cherry tomatoes, or 1 medium ripe tomato
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 20 g (1 medium) shallot, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 30 g (2 tbsp) filtered water
  • 200 g kabocha, peeled and cut into 5 cm (2 inch) chunks
  • 160 g (1 small) pearl brinjal, charred over an open flame
  • 80 g (1/2 medium) bittergourd, pith removed and cut into half-moons
  • 60 g (6 no) long beans or string beans, cut into 5 cm (2 inch) pieces
  • 45 g (4 no) whole okra, stemmed
  • To taste Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
For the Wild-Fermented Beancurd
  1. Cut the tofu into 2.5 cm (1 inch) cubes.

  2. Press the tofu cubes. Arrange the tofu cubes between paper towels and place a weight (such as a cutting board with a sack of rice) on top. Drain at room temperature for 2 hours, or until the tofu is just moist and feels quite firm.

  3. Transfer the tofu cubes to a casserole dish large enough to hold the cubes in a single layer with at least 1.3 cm (1/2 inch) between pieces. Cover the dish securely with taut cling film. Poke holes across the top with a toothpick at 2 inch intervals, to allow the tofu to breathe.

  4. Let the dish sit at room temperature for 2-4 days, depending on temperature and humidity. The tofu is ready when yellow-orange mold spots appear on the top and sides and looks wet (small milky puddles may also start to pool below the cubes). It will also have a strong smell.

  5. Combine the salt and chilli flakes, if using, on a plate. Coat each cube with this mixture, then gently stack the coated cubes in a glass jar.

  6. Combine the water and wine in a bowl, then gently pour the mixture over the tofu. The cubes should be completely submerged. Pour the sesame oil over the brine so that you have 0.6 cm (1/4 inch) layer of oil sealing the top.

  7. Place the tofu in the refrigerator to age for at least 4 weeks. It will be ready to eat when it has a creamy texture and cheesy sharpness. Store the tofu in the refrigerator, where it will keep indefinitely as long as you use clean utensils when scooping out. The tofu will mellow over time, becoming creamier and more remarkable.

For the Pinakbet
  1. In a small blender, combine the Wild-Fermented Beancurd and tomatoes and blend to a puree. Set aside.

  2. In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and saute 2 minutes, then add the garlic and saute 1 minute. Add the tomato mixture and water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture returns to a simmer.

  3. Add the vegetables in layers: kabocha, eggplant, bitter gourd, long beans, then okra. The idea is to layer the harder vegetables at the bottom, and the quicker-cooking ones at the top so they are lightly cooked through steam and indirect heat.

  4. Cover the pot tightly and cook for about 6-10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Do not disturb the layers by stirring; just shake the pot side to side once or twice while cooking.

  5. Season the pinakbet with salt and pepper. Serve hot as a side dish with quinoa or rice.