Choy Sum with Sweet Tau Kee

It was difficult for me to find the exact English equivalent for Sweet Tau Kee or Sweet Tou Kan, a type of soya product which is popular amongst vegetarians. Sweet Tau Kee comes in rectangular dried hard pieces and are brown in colour and you will need to soften them by pre-soaking in water for a few minutes prior to cooking. I have had experience where certain Sweet Tau Kee softens much faster than others depending on different manufacturers. After they have softened, you should cut them into smaller pieces as they measure approximately 15cm in length and 5 cm in width prior to cooking.

Sweet Tau Kee is not for everyone due to its unique taste, which can be bitter to some. Here, I have paired the Sweet Tau Kee with Choy Sum (菜心) or “Flowering Chinese Cabbage” so that there is a good balance between the subtle sweetness of the Tau Kee and the refreshing Choy Sum greens. This dish is quite easy to cook and with a little effort in presentation, you can dish out something which can rival what is being offered in the chinese restaurants. By the way, if you intend to serve this as a complete vegetarian dish, omit garlic from the ingredients.

This is my recipe for Choy Sum with Sweet Tau Kee


  • 200 grammes Choy Sum (choose tender shoots, rinsed thoroughly to remove dirt)
  • 3 pieces Sweet Tau Kee (pre-soak till soft enough to cut with scissors, yet with a little firmness. Cut into desired sizes)
  • 3 cloves garlic (sliced thinly)
  • Water for blanching Choy Sum
  • Potato starch (mix 1 teaspoon potato flour with 100 ml water)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut / corn oil


  • 1 tablespoon mushroom / abalone flavoured sauce
  • A pinch of salt
  • A couple of dashes of white pepper powder


Bring to boil in a pot or wok. Add a liberal pinch of salt and a couple of drops of cooking oil. Whilst water is boiling rapidly, add Choy Sum and blanch it until the leaves turn dark green, indicating that it is cooked. Remove and drain. Arrange Choy Sum on a plate.

Heat cooking oil in wok and fry the sweet tau kee for 1 minute on both sides on medium high heat. Once done, push the sweet tau kee to one side and add garlic to remaining oil. Saute till aromatic.

Then, push back the sweet tau kee to the garlic and add 200 ml water. Bring gravy to boil and add seasoning to taste. Gradually add potato starch to thicken gravy to your preferred consistency. Then, pour gravy with sweet tau kee and garlic over the pre-arranged Choy Sum.

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  1. 1
    July 13th, 2008 at 7:21 am

    hi there!
    been a regular visitor to your blog, love the recipe you have shared.
    i just have a question – and please forgive my ignorance, but why do you need to omit garlic if you intend to serve this dish as a complete vegetarian dish?

  2. 2
    July 13th, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Rachel : Hi! and good to have you here 😀 From what little I know, garlic is not used in vegetarian cooking as it either had adverse health effects (which I am not too sure) or its too pungent. This is what I heard from my friends who are vegetarians. Anyone care to explain?

  3. 3
    July 16th, 2008 at 11:07 am

    What my Buddhist vegetarian friend told me before is that garlic (among a few other ‘pungent’ spices) may induce certain emotions (such as lust) so it is avoided. I’m not sure if that’s the reason though…

    Nice dish! Since I am not a vegetarian, I like to replace it with a kind of fried tau kee slices … yummy

  4. 4
    steamy kitchen
    July 16th, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    wonderful photo!!! veg looks so fresh, not like the crap i get in my asian markets (all dried up)

  5. 5
    July 17th, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Aiks, this is something new to hear about the garlic. Can substitue them with ginger too. Caramelized it. Chun!

  6. 6
    July 17th, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    ahh, i see. well that thing about garlic inducing emotions is something new to me too. well, you learn something new everyday. =)

  7. 7
    July 17th, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    I’ve never eaten sweet tau kee before. Sounds like an interesting combo with choy sum.

  8. 8
    July 21st, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    noobcook : Mm….that’s enlightening 😀

    steamy kitchen : It was straight from the market right into the wok! Just like you, I cannot stand the sight of dried or shriveled vegetables.

    hijackqueen : You turning vegetarian kah? 🙂

    didally : Sweet tau kee is not as oft found compared to the normal dried tau kee or fu chok skin. If you can find it, give it a try. Some call it chinese cheese 😉

  9. 9
    Tom Aarons
    July 25th, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    Hi, it’s not just strict Buddhist vegetarians who don’t eat garlic but also some very orthodox Hindu and Jain vegetarians. I was told that it all ties in with medical ideas about heating the body and the wrong kinds of energy. Ie, it has the same effects as meat.

  10. 10
    July 27th, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    Tom : I think I have heard about that too. Something about the garlic being “toxic” to vegetarians but of course, I do stand corrected.

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