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.
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!
Makes 7-8 rolls | Prep Time: 45 Minutes | Cook Time: 5 Minutes
8 oz shelled and deveined shrimp
1 tablespoon finely chopped yellow chives
7-8 pieces tofu skin, cut into 6×6-inch pieces
Oil, for deep-frying
Worcestershire sauce or mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Shaoxing wine
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
3 dashes white pepper powder
1/2 teaspoon oil
1 heaping teaspoon potato starch or cornstarch*
1/2 tablespoon egg white*
If you wish to make your shrimp bouncy, you can treat the shrimp according to the steps in this post: How to make shrimp crunchy. Adjust the ingredients accordingly.
Cut the 2/3 of the shrimp into small pieces and mince 1/3 of the shrimp. Mix the shrimp with all the ingredients in the Seasonings. If you treat the shrimp using the method above, you can skip the last two ingredients (marked *) in the Seasonings, which are cornstarch and egg white. If the filling is lose and not sticky, add more starch to bind it.
To roll the shrimp, place a piece of the tofu skin on a flat surface. Sprinkle a little bit of water to make it softer or wet your hand with water and rub on the tofu skin surface so it becomes pliable.
Scoop about 1 heaping tablespoon of the filling onto the tofu skin. Use a little bit of water and dab it around the edges to ensure sealing.
Roll up the bottom part of the skin, tuck the shrimp tightly. Roll until the end of the tofu skin.
Twist both ends of the opening and make sure they are closed, so when deep-frying, the oil won’t seep in. Wet your hand with water to help with sealing.
The shrimp wrapped in tofu skin are now ready for deep-frying.
Heat up a wok with enough cooking oil for frying. When the oil is fully heated, turn the heat to medium and gently drop the shrimp rolls into the oil. Keep turning around and deep fry until they turn golden brown. Dish out on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Cut them up in halves, and serve immediately with Worcestershire sauce or mayonnaise, or both.
You can get tofu skin in the frozen section of Asian food stores. If you can’t find it, you can make tofu skin from scratch, using only soy beans and water.
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