Yong Tau Foo originated in the 1960s, and is basically tofu stuffed with fish or pork paste. Meaning “stuffed bean curd”, this dish can be easily found in Malaysia and Singapore. Today, Yong Tau Foo comprises of a variety of food items stuffed with fish paste, such as chilli, lady’s finger, bean curd, bitter gourd, mushroom, tofu skin and eggplant. These food items can also be bought pre-prepared at local supermarkets and wet markets.
The fish paste is traditionally made by beating fish meat, usually Ikan Parang (Wolf Herring) or Ikan Tengerri (Spanish Mackerel), with a mortar and pestle into a sticky white paste. Good Yong Tau Foo is often characterised as having a tender and bouncy fish paste filling. Deep fried items such as dough fritters, dumplings and Ngo Hiang (fried meat roll) are also offered.
Either served dry or in a soup, you can have it with a choice of rice, egg noodles or vermicelli. This clear soup, which is also used to cook the items in, is usually made with soy beans and Ikan Billis (dried anchovies), and has a light and fragrant aroma. To accommodate to local tastes, certain stalls also offer Laksa (Peranakan spicy soup) or curry options. Chilli and sweet bean sauce, as well as sesame seeds, are some of the essential accompaniments when eating Yong Tau Foo.
A Malaysian version of this Hakka dish, Ampang Yong Tau Foo, is also popular in Singapore. Served dry, the ingredients are either steamed or braised slowly, adding a unique savoury touch. Well-known Hakka Yong Tau Foo stalls in Singapore include Goldhill Hakka Restaurant along Changi Road and Rong Xin Cooked Food at Tanjong Pagar Market and Food Centre. So if you’re looking for a healthy option at the food centre, be sure to order some Yong Tau Foo.