Pipa tofu is named based on the shape the tofu paste is formed and moulded using a Chinese soup spoon. It resembles the traditional Chinese classical lute called “pipa” pronounced as “pee-pah”. It is amazing what we can do with fresh tofu. This time I am using a slightly firmer tofu, break it up and mix with other ingredients to make a tofu paste. It is almost similar to making Chinese dumplings. It is fresh and has to be individually folded to form into a pear-shaped. Perhaps this is a reason why Chinese restaurants do not offer this dish on their menu anymore. It takes time and requires a bit of effort. I remember once I ordered at a Cantonese Chinese restaurant in Melbourne and was told we have to wait at least 20 minutes. It requires the dish to be freshly made and individually shaped for a main dish
Make the tofu mixture
Form and mould the tofu mixture into individual pear-shaped
Fry the moulded tofu in small batches
Make the sauce
Dress sauce over the fried tofu
How to make
Soak the dried mushrooms and dried prawns in separate bowls with hot water for 20 minutes or longer. Rinse, squeeze until dry and then chop until really fine. Reserve the water used to soak the mushrooms to make the sauce.
Peel the prawns and chop until really fine.
Chop the water chestnuts until really fine.
Chop all the spring onions and corianders until they are really fine.
Slice the ginger into thin slivers.
In a small bowl, combine all the chopped ingredients – mushrooms, prawns, shrimps, water chestnuts, spring onions (reserve some for garnishing), corinader (reserve some for garnishing). Add 1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine, 1 tablespoon light soy, 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil, a dash of salt and white pepper and mix through evenly.
Remove the tofu from its packet and drain all the liquid. Wrap the tofu with a kitchen paper towel to soak any excess liquid still remaining inside the tofu. Place something hard on top and let it sit for 5 minutes or less.
Mash the tofu with a fork in a large bowl. Then add the ingredients mixture, an egg and tapioca flour/starch. Combine and fold until all the ingredients are mixed through evenly into a tofu paste.
Brush 2 Chinese soup spoon. Place some of the tofu paste on one of the spoon. Using the other spoon fold and shape the tofu paste into pear-shaped (at this stage..probabaly it is best to watch my video to see how I do it).
While you shape the tofu paste into individual smaller sizes, heat up the water to get ready to steam the tofu.
Once you have finished making the individual tofu, place on a steamer to steam for 10 minutes.
While tofu is steaming, prepare the vegetable. I used a broccoli in my video. You can use bok choy if you prefer. With the broccoli, I steamed it to cook the vegetable. You can blanch rather than steam if you prefer.
Once the tofu is cooked. Let it rest and cool down before shallow frying until they are golden brown on both sides.
Prepare the sauce by heating up the sliced ginger. Then add 1 tablespoon oyster sauce, 1 tablespoon light soy, salt and pepper to taste. Then add the water from soaking the mushrooms and add some starch water to thicken the sauce.
Dress the sauce over the tofu and vegetables. Then garnish with some chopped spring onions and coriander leaves.
1 firm tofu
1 tablespoon dried shrimps
5 dried shiitake mushrooms
10 fresh prawns
6 water chestnuts
3 spring onions
3 coriander stalks with leaves
1-2 inches size fresh ginger
Chinese cooking wine
salt and white pepper
tapioca starch/flour or corn starch