A bubbe’s take on a Chinese food classic

Chinese food is one of my favorite cuisines, so with the Lunar New Year beginning Feb. 3, I thought I’d share a few recipes that have been adjusted to use all kosher ingredients.

Larger supermarkets and specialty stores (especially those with an organic or natural foods section) should have a selection of kosher-certified Chinese sauces and ingredients. You might need to try a few stores; and be careful, as some brands have versions both with and without a hechsher.

In my version of the classic Old Woman’s Tofu, I replace the pork with ground turkey and a few traditional ingredients with others that can be found with kosher certification. Serve over rice and or alongside stir-fried vegetables.

Jewish Grandmother’s Tofu

Serves 4

1 lb. firm tofu, rinsed and cut into 3⁄4-inch cubes

2 Tbs. vegetable oil

2 Tbs. minced ginger

2 Tbs. minced garlic

4 Tbs. chopped green onion (white and light green parts) 1 lb. ground turkey (not breast)

2 Tbs. black bean garlic sauce

1-2 Tbs. fresh chili paste, such as sambal oelek

1 cup water

2 Tbs. sugar

2 Tbs. unseasoned rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar

2 Tbs. soy sauce

2 tsp. cornstarch stirred into 2 tsp. water

1⁄2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper or brown Sichuan pepper


Put tofu into a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit 15 minutes. Drain and reserve. Have all ingredients ready. Heat wok or large frying pan (do not use non-stick). Add oil and swirl to coat pan. Stir fry ginger, garlic and 2 Tbs. green onion, being careful not to burn garlic. Add the turkey and stir fry for a minute, using the side of a spatula to break apart any clumps of meat. Add black bean sauce and chili paste and stir fry for 30 seconds, then add the water and the tofu. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, being careful not to break apart the tofu.

Add the sugar, vinegar and soy sauce. Stir to combine, then gradually add in the cornstarch mixture while stirring until sauce has begun to thicken but is still a bit runny. (You may not need to use all the cornstarch mixture.) Put in a serving dish and sprinkle with the ground pepper and the rest of the green onions.

Egg Drop Soup with Chicken Meatballs and Greens

Serves 4


1 lb. ground chicken (not breast)

1 egg white

1 tsp. minced ginger

1⁄2 tsp. minced garlic

1 tsp. minced green onion (white and light green parts)

vegetable oil


8 cups chicken stock

2 slices ginger, 1⁄4-inch thick

10 oz. fresh spinach, chopped

4 oz. fresh shiitake or brown mushroom caps, cut into 1⁄4-inch slices

1 Tbs. tomato paste

1 tsp. fresh chili paste, such as sambal oelek

1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar

1 Tbs. soy sauce

1 egg

1⁄4 tsp. plus 1⁄2 tsp. sesame oil

2 Tbs. chopped green onion for garnish

Mix chicken with egg white, ginger, garlic and green onion. Oil a plate and your hands. Form 8 meatballs (mixture will be loose) and place on oiled plate.

Put chicken stock in a large pot, add ginger slices. Bring to a simmer. Add meatballs and mushrooms. When meatballs have floated to top, add spinach, tomato and chili pastes, vinegar and soy sauce. Gently stir until combined. Simmer until meatballs and vegetables are cooked. Beat egg with 1⁄4 tsp. of sesame oil. Stir soup as you drizzle in egg. Stir in remaining sesame oil, remove ginger slices and serve garnished with green onions.

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. She blogs her food at www.clickblogappetit.com. Contact her at [email protected]


Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is faithkramer.com. Contact her at [email protected].