Sautéed Water Spinach with Fermented Tofu (Fu Ru Kong Xin Cai)

Crisp, mild-tasting water spinach is a favorite leafy green enjoyed in Taiwan. When lightly sautéed, the hollow stalks retain a crisp texture that's appealing enough for the finest banquet tables. While often simply sautéed with garlic, a touch of fermented tofu is sometimes added to provide a hint of savory flavor and a cloudy complexion to the liquids released from the greens. Fermented tofu is found in tiny cubes packed in small jars, and is extremely potent. Only a small dab needs to be used, mixed with some water, to gently flavor an entire dish of these greens.

Fu Ru Kong Xin Cai (Sauteed Water Spinach with Fermented Tofu)
Photo: Pete Lee
Active Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
10 mins


  • ½ teaspoon fermented tofu

  • ½ cup water

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil

  • About ½ pound water spinach, tough stems trimmed and cut to 2-inch piecesSalt to taste


  1. Mix the fermented tofu with the water in a small bowl.

  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat until very hot. Add the water spinach along with a couple pinches of salt. Cook, stirring, to wilt completely, about 2 minutes. Pour in the fermented tofu mixture and stir to incorporate thoroughly. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes to heat through, tasting for seasoning and adding salt as desired. Serve immediately.


Excerpted from THE FOOD OF TAIWAN © 2015 by Cathy Erway. Photography © 2015 by Pete Lee. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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