Pipa tofu is a dish rarely found on a typical Chinese restaurant menu. I know this because if it were on the menu, I’d order it all the time. Mashed soft tofu — often mixed with ground shrimp or pork — formed into an oval shape and fried. Served with a light sauce over mixed vegetables. That my friends, is good eating.
After wolfing down the excellent pipa tofu at Chalin’s recently, I was inspired to make it for myself. A quick Google search turned up several recipes, including this one, and this one. My version was sort of a combo of both, based on what I had in my kitchen.
The first step was to steam some bok choy.
While the bok choy steamed, I mashed up a block of soft tofu with chopped scallions, a pinch of salt, a little cornstarch and about 8-9 minced shrimp.
Then I heated up canola oil in a wok, formed the mashed tofu into oval shapes (the name comes from the shape of the pipa, a traditional Chinese instrument), and carefully lowered them in batches into the hot oil. This part’s a little tricky because they’re so delicate and easy to break.
Only took a few minutes for the tofu to turn golden brown. Out they came onto paper towels to drain, and in went the next batch.
You can see that I mishandled a few and deformed their oval shape.
Threw some baby corn and peas into the steamer with the bok choy, put together a light sauce of soy and chicken stock, thickened with a cornstarch slurry, and dinner was ready.
Chinese comfort food.