Peipa Tofu (or Pipa Tofu) is a classic Chinese dish of Fried Tofu Balls. This tofu recipe is definitely one to keep in your back pocket! It’s a crowd pleaser and is one of those recipes that might even convert the fussiest of eaters and can satisfy anyone. My version has a enoki mushroom sauce but you really don’t even have to make a sauce. It’s good as dinner dish or make a double batch for entertaining and potlucks!
What is Peipa Tofu?
Peipa Tofu is a tofu meatball dish where the meatball shape (kinda football shaped) resembles the Chinese lute, called a Peipa, thus the name! It usually contains pork mince and seafood such as prawns, but it’s one of those recipes that is super versatile and every family would have their own flavours and add-ins. The balls are made from base of firm tofu giving them a juicy, tender filling. The balls are deep fried and often served with steamed bok choi or broccoli and coated in a simple soy and oyster sauce mix thickened with cornstarch. This is a vegan version however, and I used Omnimeat vegan pork mince to recreate the same flavours and texture.
What tofu should I use?
I used a Firm Tofu by Evergreen Tofu – one of the best Asian-family-owned brands. If you live in Australia, you can find this at Woolworths or at your local asian grocer.
- Shaoxing Wine – this is Chinese Cooking wine and adds a unique flavour. It’s a Chinese pantry staple! If you can’t find it, try mirin as a sub.
- Vegan Oyster Sauce – my favourite brand is Wan Ja Shan
- Vegan Pork Mince – I used Omnimeat
- Enoki Mushrooms – these fine thin mushrooms are almost – noodle like! I get mine at my local asian grocer. Don’t forget to separate them before you chop them up!
To Sauce or Not To Sauce? How to Eat your Peipa Tofu!
It’s honestly up to you if you want to serve these with the mushroom sauce or not! The tofu balls are delicious as a snack or a dish, you could just serve them with ketchup if you want. I could easily inhale a whole plate while watching tv that way. But if you want classic Chinese flavours, I would highly recommend my enoki mushroom sauce.
Do I have to Deep Fry? Deep-Frying 101 and Tips.
Deep frying will yield the best results and it might surprise you to know that it actually often uses less oil than you think compared to pan-frying! It’s important to wait for the oil to heat up properly (180ºC is the standard deep-frying temp), lower temperature = more oil absorption. Worried about oil spitting? This only happens with water comes in contact with hot oil – they DO NOT MIX. Make sure whatever cooking vessel you’re using is COMPLELTELY dry, you don’t want something you’ve grabbed off the drying rack. Don’t use wet utensils to take stuff out either. If you’re worried about what to do with the oil afterwards, I let mine cool – then strain it back into a clean bottle and refrigerate to use again as regular cooking oil or to deep fry at a later time.
If you really don’t want to deep fry, I haven’t tested it myself but I’m quite sure it would work to bake these (brush with oil before baking). Shallow frying is another option, just be sure to flip the peipa tofu so all sides cook evenly and you’ll have to cook for longer.
Vegan Peipa Tofu (Chinese Fried Tofu Ballls)
Vegan Peipa Tofu (Chinese Fried Tofu Balls) 琵琶豆腐
- 300 g firm tofu patted dry
- 240 g vegan pork mince
- 2 stalks spring onion/green onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 3 pieces dried shiitake mushroom, rehydrated in 1 cup hot water (KEEP WATER!) stems cut out, diced
- 1/4 carrot finely diced
- 1 chunk ginger grated or finely diced
- 2 tbsp all purpose flour
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/2 tbsp shaoxing wine
- 1 tbsp vegan oyster sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tbsp mushroom seasoning (or veggie stock powder)
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
Enoki Mushroom Sauce
- 100 g enoki mushrooms separated and roughly chopped
- 1 tsp mushroom seasoning (or veggie stock powder)
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp vegan oyster sauce
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 cup mushroom water or water
To Thicken Sauce
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 2 tbsp water
- neutral oil for deep frying canola, sunflower, vegetable, rice bran, peanut
- hot white rice to serve
- steamed broccoli to serve
- PREPARE TOFU BALL MIXPat tofu dry and mash in a large mixing bowl. Add all other ingredients and mix well. Form little football shaped balls and place onto an oiled plate.
- MAKE THE SAUCEPlace all sauce ingredients except mushrooms and cornstarch mix into a small saucepan. Cook on medium heat until hot then add mushrooms and cook for a few more minutes. Stir the cornstarch slurry in and stir well to thicken the sauce. Taste and season if needed then set aside.
- FRYING THE PEIPA TOFUIn a wok or large pot, heat a few inches of oil to 170ºC-180ºC for deep frying. (If you don’t have a thermometer, use a wooden chopstick to test the oil – the wood will start ‘fizzing’ when dipped in oils you’ll know its hot enough.) Fry balls for 4-5 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Plate up with steamed broccoli, pour over your mushroom sauce and enjoy!