San Bei (Taiwanese Three Cup) Tofu and Ramen

February 18, 2015
4 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
Author Notes

A traditional Taiwanese sauce meets ramen.

San bei translates to "three cups" in Chinese and refers to the equal amounts of sesame oil, soy sauce, and cooking wine used to make the extremely aromatic san bei sauce. When making san bei tofu the other day according to Kitty's Home Cooking, I found myself with a lot of extra sauce in the end and decided to try adding some ramen noodles and a soft-boiled egg. I am still dreaming of that delicious experiment to this day. —Joy Huang | The Cooking of Joy

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: The Cooking of Joy is a food blogger "trying to cook like her mom."
WHAT: A super-simple sauce of equal parts sesame oil, soy sauce, and Chinese cooking wine, tossed with ramen noodles and served with pan-fried tofu (and a soft-boiled egg, to boot).
HOW: Pan-fry thick slices of tofu, then make the aromatic "three-cup" sauce. Toss it over ramen noodles with a handful Thai basil and serve with the tofu and a soft egg. Sigh deeply.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Squiggly ramen noodles, a punchy sauce (especially for so few ingredients), tender tofu, and a soft egg—it's about as comforting as it gets, and would make a killer quick dinner or a very Not Sad Desk Lunch. If you think you'd prefer the sauce a little looser and more broth-like, cut the cornstarch. Or add even more greens (extra Thai basil or a big handful of spinach would brighten it lots). —The Editors

  • Serves 2
  • 12 ounces package extra-firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 5 slices fresh ginger
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Chinese cooking wine
  • 1 tablespoon rock sugar or raw sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • A large handful of Thai basil leaves
  • 6 ounces ramen noodles or thin yellow noodles
  • 2 soft-boiled eggs, halved lengthwise
In This Recipe
  1. Drain the tofu and pat dry with paper towels. Carefully slice into thick slices. [Editors' note: We sliced them about 1/2 inch thick.] Heat a medium pan on medium high and add the vegetable oil. Pan fry the tofu slices for several minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and let drain.
  2. Remove any excess oil in the pan and then add the sesame oil. Stir fry the ginger and garlic over low heat until fragrant. Add the soy sauce, cooking wine, rock sugar, water, and the tofu slices. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat, simmering for about 7 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook the ramen noodles until just done. Drain and transfer into two bowls.
  4. Mix the cornstarch with a tablespoon of water and add to the pan. Bring the sauce to a boil again and stir until slightly thickened. Add the Thai basil leaves and cook for another minute until wilted. Ladle the tofu and sauce over the cooked ramen noodles and garnish with the soft-boiled eggs.

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