• Prep Time 15 minutes
  • Cook Time 20 minutes
  • Serving For 40 people
  • Difficulty Normal

Recipe Description

PIPA tofu is one of those dishes many would have eaten before but didn’t know its name.

It is pear-shaped like the ancient Chinese musical instrument, the pipa or lute, and is often associated with one of China’s legendary beauties, Xi Shi, who was said to have enjoyed it as her favourite dish.

This recipe was first published in The Star: https://www.thestar.com.my/food/food-news/2021/01/23/tofu-pipa-the-stuff-of-legends

Recipe Ingredient

  • Tofu patties:
  • 2 blocks soft tofu
  • 100g minced chicken
  • 100g prawns, shelled
  • 3 dried shiitake mushroom, soaked and diced
  • 1 stalk scallion, minced
  • 2 sprigs coriander leaves plucked and stems minced
  • ½ stalk carrot, shredded
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • ½ tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt to taste
  • 1 tsp white pepper to taste
  • Frying batter:
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 tbsp rice flour
  • 5 tbsp cornstarch
  • 4 cups cooking oil
  • Gravy:
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 knob ginger, finely minced
  • 2 bulbs shallots, finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 10g dried scallop, soaked in ½ cup water and shredded
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp scallop sauce
  • 1 tbsp concentrated chicken stock
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ cup cold water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish:
  • 1 stalk garlic chives
  • 1 sprig coriander, plucked
  • 1 red chilli, finely diced


  1. Blend all the patty ingredients in a food processor into a fine paste. It will be wet but should hold its shape. If it is too liquid, add a bit more cornstarch.
  2. Lightly brush spoons with oil. Pour tofu patty into the spoon, moulding it into shape until it resembles a pipa, or Chinese lute.
  3. Steam the patties in the spoons on a plate over high medium for 5 minutes until firm.
  4. When cool, remove from spoons and repeat with remaining patty dough. Reserve the steamed juices in the plate for the gravy.
  5. Heat the cooking oil over high heat for deep-frying. Whisk the egg in a bowl.
  6. In a separate bowl, sift together cornstarch and rice flour. Dip the cooked patty in egg, roll in the flour until fully coated, then place a coriander leaf on top of the patty.
  7. Deep-fry battered patties in batches until light golden. Arrange fried patties on a serving platter.
  8. In a bowl, combine steam juices, cornstarch, scallop sauce, chicken stock, sugar and water into a slurry.
  9. Heat oil in a frying pan, and sauté ginger, shallots and garlic until wilted.
  10. Deglaze with wine, then add scallops with its soaking liquid. Add cornstarch slurry and bring to a boil.
  11. Turn off the heat and drizzle in the leftover egg from the frying batter.
  12. Season with salt and pepper, and dress over tofu patties.
  13. Garnish with coriander, garlic chives and red chillies, and serve immediately.

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