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Shrimp Wrapped in Tofu Skin (鮮蝦腐皮券)

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This shrimp wrapped in tofu skin (鮮蝦腐皮券) recipe was supposed to be in my cookbook “Easy Chinese Recipes,” but it was cut out as my publisher thought tofu skin might be hard to get for most Americans, which is true. As the title suggests, this delicious fried shrimp rolls are wrapped with tofu skin, or bean curd sheet (in Asia), or yuba (in Japanese).

Tofu skin is basically the layer of “skin” formed on top of fresh soy milk. As you all know, Chinese invented soy milk, tofu, and other tofu-related product, so tofu skin is basically one of the many food products from the magical soy beans. As I made the tofu skin from scratch this past weekend, it dawns to me just how amazing soy milk is, because of the endless culinary possibilities it brings. Please check out this post how to make tofu skin, if you wish to attempt it at home.

This crunchy, mouthwatering, and dainty Cantonese appetizer is a must-have for me whenever we go out for dim sum or yumcha. At the dim sum restaurants here in the United States and Hong Kong, they are usually presented in a bigger rectangle-shaped package, however, I prefer smaller rolls, as pictured here, which is typically found in Malaysia.

Shrimp Wrapped in Tofu Skin (鮮蝦腐皮券)

The key to really good Cantonese dim sum is the texture of the filling, in this case, the shrimp. The best Cantonese chefs treat their shrimp with cold running water for hours that ultimately delivers the bouncy (弹牙) and supple texture in the shrimp. In my cookbook and on this post “How to Make Shrimp Crunchy,” I share a home remedy that you can apply to make the shrimp bouncy, but it takes some time. However, there are many chefs who cheat by treating their shrimp with lye water or even borax, because it delivers very fast and amazing results. I am strongly against these chemicals because if you read the label of lye water, it’s clearly stated as chemical and some even label it as poison, so I would stay away. (You can read the fact sheet of lye water here.) Traditionally, you can treat these shrimp using the shangjiang (上浆) method, which is coating the shrimp with a mixture of egg white and potato starch. I prefer my method of double treating the shrimp: first with baking soda, and then with egg white and potato starch. It works!

Now the secret seasoning to dim sum that tastes like they are straight from restaurants is chicken bouillon powder. You can get the non-MSG version in the market and use it in this recipe. This shrimp wrapped with tofu skin is commonly served with a Worcestershire sauce, but you can also use mayonnaise, which is more common in Malaysia. Either way, this fried shrimp rolls taste so good. Enjoy!

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20 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

  1. Philip

    Love this recipe. You can buy dried soy skin (flat pieces) or “fu chuk” in most Asian supermarket. Soak the flat pieces in water and then cut to desired size before filling it with shrimp or fish paste (cake) for “yong tau fu”. I do this quite often at home.

  2. This looks really delicious. I used to try crab meat wrapped in tofu skin in Thailand and it was great! Shrimp in crispy tofu skin is new to me. I am sure I would welcome a roll or two. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Caroline

    Hm, looks really good. Lye water is used in all ramen noodles in Japan (kansui), do you think it’s really that bad? I was thinking about ordering a bottle of it online since I cannot find it in the stores around here and want to make ramen noodles at home but if it’s dangerous for my health, I won’t do it of course.

    • Yes, I know. Kansui is used in Chinese noodles and other foods that has a QQ texture. Ramen is basically Chinese egg noodles, so yes, lye water is used. I have certainly read many reports in Chinese that warn about the health hazards of lye water. For treating the shrimp, I am strongly against it as it’s not necessary and there are other ways to treat the shrimp. If you are making ramen noodles at home, I wouldn’t use it and I am sure the noodles will still be great. You can read about the health hazards here: http://www.health.sa.gov.au/pehs/PDF-files/ph-factsheet-lye-water.pdf

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