Pei pa dou fu – quenelle fried tofu

Pei pa dou fu – quenelle fried tofu

Hong Kong Diner
Kris Kirkham

Also known as ‘PEAR-SHAPED TOFU’, this dish is often cooked in restaurants using a mixture of prawns (shrimp) and tofu. This version, however, is just as good without the prawns, fully vegetarian if desired. The whole salted egg adds a little texture and flavour to the tofu quenelles.


Quantity Ingredient
1/2 a thumb-size piece of ginger
1 spring onion
3 whole pak choi
1 tablespoon cornflour
3 tablespoons water
vegetable oil, for frying

The tofu mix

Quantity Ingredient
4 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 whole steamed salted egg
500g fresh firm tofu
2 garlic cloves
1/4 thumb-size piece of ginger
1 spring onion
6 whole green beans
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon pure sesame oil
3 tablespoons cornflour
1 egg yolk

The sauce

Quantity Ingredient
1 1/2 tablespoons lee kum kee vegetarian stir-fry sauce, (swapsies: oyster sauce)
1/2 tablespoon light soy sauce
3 drops dark soy sauce
300ml mushroom soaking water


  1. Soak the shiitake mushrooms in hot water for a minimum of 2 hours, or ideally overnight, then drain, reserving the soaking water. Finely slice the ginger and roughly chop the spring onion (scallion). Slice the pak choi into quarters, lengthways.
  2. Boil the salted egg for 10 minutes, then peel and mash with a fork. Press the fresh tofu for 10–15 minutes by placing a couple of pieces of kitchen paper on a large plate, followed by the tofu, topped with a couple more sheets of kitchen paper and another large plate.
  3. Finely chop the soaked mushrooms, garlic, ginger and spring onion and place in a large mixing bowl. Top and tail the green beans and finely chop. Dry the tofu by dabbing it well all over with kitchen paper, then put it into a mixing bowl with the beans and all the remaining tofu mix ingredients apart from the cornflour (cornstarch) and egg yolk. Use your fingertips to break the tofu up, creating a thick paste. Add the cornflour and egg yolk, mix well and set aside.
  4. Mix the sauce ingredients together in a bowl. Lastly, mix 1 tablespoon of cornflour and 3 tablespoons of water to make a paste.
  5. Half-fill a medium pot, wok or deep-fryer with vegetable oil and heat to 180°C, or use a wooden skewer or wooden chopstick to test by placing the tip into the oil: if the wood starts to fizz after a second or so, the oil is hot enough.
  6. Using 2 dessertspoons, carefully ‘quenelle’ the tofu, then lay a quenelle of tofu mix in the hot oil. Fry in batches of 5 or 6 at a time, keeping the oil at a high temperature, until golden brown all over, roughly 3–4 minutes, then remove from the hot oil with a slotted spoon or a Chinese frying skimmer and drain on kitchen paper. Repeat until all your tofu mixture has been used up.
  7. Now heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a medium saucepan or claypot to a medium-high heat. Add the sliced ginger and roughly chopped spring onion and stir through for 30–60 seconds. Pour the sauce into the pan and bring to the boil, then add the pak choi and cook in the sauce for 2 minutes.
  8. Place the pak choi in a serving dish. Stir the cornflour paste into the sauce and bring to the boil. Add the fried tofu pieces to the pan and continue boiling for 1–2 minutes, carefully coating the tofu quenelles with the sauce. Pour the tofu and sauce over the pak choi and serve.


  • If you fry the tofu ‘quenelles’ with a little patience (i deep-fry no more than 5 or 6 pieces at a time, to prevent too much cooling of the oil and stop the pieces sticking together), each morsel of mixed tofu will come out separate, nice and crispy. In other words, fry patiently to avoid the whole dish going pear-shaped!
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