If you think your cutting techniques are on point, then we need to sober up. After all, in the Chinese region of Huaiyang, chefs are known for their exceptionally perfected cutting techniques, and that’s something completely different. We recently saw a video in which a chef cut a block of tofu no less than 3600 times. We don’t imitate him.
We have known for some time that China cannot be characterized by a single national cuisine. In recent years, for example, Sichuanese cuisine has become very popular: that cool Chinese sub-kitchen with relentlessly spicy dishes like mapo tofu.
And so China basically has eight famous cuisines, of which the one in the Huaiyang region is one. And while in Sichuan they are known for their aromatic Sichuan pepper , the chefs in Huaiyang are renowned for their unparalleled cutting techniques. Those skills have been passed down from generation to generation for 1,500 years.
Legend has it that in Huaiyang they realized that their flavors could hardly compete with the other cuisines. So they decided to impress with their cutting techniques. In any case, the fact that we’re still talking about it centuries later proves that it worked.
A flower with 3600 petals
And if you think we’re exaggerating, you really should watch the video below. What you see is tofu blossom: an iconic Huaiyang dish. For this, a block of silken tofu is cut 60 times along the four sides. The result is a block with 3600 notches that will behave like a flour when doused in hot stock.
The trick is to place the tofu on your cutting board as stable as possible, for example between two pieces of cucumber. Chefs then wet their knives before attacking the tofu so that it doesn’t stick to the knife. Finally, the trick is to only cut the tofu for 3/5. Once that gets more, the dish is ruined. In Huaiyang they usually serve the tofu flour in chicken broth, with some enoki mushrooms and crab meat.
An incredibly elegant dish, although you may also wonder why on earth you would go to the trouble of making 3600 notches in a block of tofu.
The chefs are clear about this: simply because it tastes softer and better than a regular block of tofu. In addition, the indentations ensure that the tofu absorbs all the flavor of the stock. And we are only too happy to believe that.