Yong Tau Foo!

Yong Tau Foo is another very common dish found in foodcourts all over Singapore. Like most Singaporean food, there is a variety of styles and many different ways to have it, however this dish is even more variable than most due to the way in which you buy it. The name Yong Tau Foo means ‘stuffed bean curd’ and this relates to the origin of the dish which began as tofu stuffed with a meat paste of fish and pork but has since expanded to included a wide range of options.

Basic Yong Tau Foo is essentially a clear soup served with a variety of vegetables and other foods, along with a choice of noodles in the soup, or rice alongside it and it is generally eaten with chopsticks and a spoon.

Your usual Yong Tau Foo stall will somewhat resemble the salad bar at an all you can eat buffet, there will be several shelves displaying many bowls and platters containing some seafood, fishballs, tofu, hard-boiled eggs, and a variety of fresh vegetables, some of which are stuffed with meat paste. There is usually a stack of bowls and tongs handy, so all you need to do is select the food you would like (6 or 7 items are usually included in the standard price), put them in your bowl and hand them over to the aunty or uncle doing the cooking. You will also need to let them know whether you want rice or noodles, and what type of noodles, and whether you would like it wet or dry (with or without soup).  They will then chop up any bigger pieces of food, boil up the food and noodles, throw it back in the bowl and cover it with soup. Make sure you to grab yourself some chilli and brown sauce to go with it.

A steaming hot bowl of Yong Tau Foo with carrot, tomato, tofu, fried hard-boiled egg, brinjal, kang kong, and bee hoon noodles, topped with beans and spring onion.

Because there are so many options with Yong Tau Foo, it is not uncommon for two bowls two look very different depending on your choice of ingredients. The bowl below contains broccoli, chinese cabbage, tofu, hard-boiled egg, okra (ladies fingers), a green chili and bee hoon noodles.

As well as the standard soup or dry option, many stalls will also give you the choice to have your Yong Tau Foo in a laksa soup, a curry gravy or Ampang style, which originates in Ampang Malaysia and is served in a brown gravy-like sauce. For good Ampang Yong Tau Foo I recommend Ngee Fou Restaurant on Upper Thomson Road.

While Yong Tau Foo is not entirely a vegetarian dish, as some of the soups may contain meat stock, and some of the food choices do include fish/meat paste, one can make this dish vegetarian by choosing only non-meat ingredients and by having it dry with rice.

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