This was an instant hit with my family. The recipe is adapted from Fuchsia Dunlop’s Every Grain of Rice. The Cantonese dish derives its name from the resemblance of the tofu puffs, to the Chinese lute.
FOR THE TOFU PUFFS
1 dried shiitake mushroom
300 grams tofu
50 grams very finely chopped carrot
1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander leaves
1 large egg white
3 tablespoons potato flour
Ground white pepper
Oil for deep frying plus 2 tablespoons of oil
FOR THE SAUCE
2 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 spring onion
A few slices of thinly cut carrot, for colour
A few slices of red pepper, thinly cut
½ fresh red chilli (optional)
1 cup vegetable stock or mushroom soaking water
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1/8 tsp dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon potato flour mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Soak all the mushrooms in 300ml hot water for at least 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the water. Discard the stalks. Finely chop one mushroom and thinly slice the other two. Blitz the tofu to a paste in a food processor. Remove tofu into a bowl and mix in the chopped mushroom, carrot, coriander leaves, egg white, flour, salt and some pepper.
Slice the spring onion white on the diagonal and cut the green into 4cm lengths.
In a wok, heat oil to a high temperature. Scoop up spoonful of tofu mixture into a dessertspoon and slide them gently into the oil. (Slide each into a different area of the wok, so they don’t stick.) Do not fry more than five spoonfuls at a time. Leave for a couple of minutes until golden, then flip over for another minute or two. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat until you have fried all the mixture, skimming the oil in between batches. Pour off the oil and wipe out the wok.
Return wok to a high heat with 2 tablespoons of fresh oil. Add the ginger, spring onion whites, carrot, sliced mushrooms and red pepper and stir fry until they are fragrant. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Add the Shaoxing wine, soy sauces, salt and pepper to taste.
Add the puffs and simmer for a further minute or two. Give the potato flour mixture a stir and add, stirring as the liquid thickens to the consistency of heavy cream. Remove from heat, sprinkle the spring onion greens, stir, then, mix the sesame oil and serve.