Sunday, March 29, 2009

Meat rolls wrapped in tofu sheets

The Impermeability of Tofu Sheets
and its Role as a Wrap for Steamed Meat Rolls

Tan Yee Wei, March 2009


Tofu sheets (fu pei) was used as a wrap for steaming minced meat, and its role as a moisture barrier is discussed.


Tofu, soy, steam, impermeability, porosity, soup, gravy, wrap, roll, moisture


Yesterday, I saw some thin, large sheets of tofu-like product at the market’s tofu and soy products seller. I bought some to experiment – the immediate idea was to use it to wrap minced meat like a spring roll, and steam. Preliminary research suggests that this tofu sheet is called fu pei in Cantonese, literally translated as tofu skin.

The filling consists of minced meat, scallops, garlic, chilli, coriander, black fungus and mushrooms.


Using a knife and chopping board, alter the ingredients’ (scallops, garlic, chilli, coriander, black fungus and mushrooms) topology such that they are no longer continuous and simply-connected. In other words, chop finely.

Mix chopped ingredients and minced meat with seasoning.

Cut tofu sheet into reasonably sized pieces, and fill with erm… filling. At this point, I realised the tofu sheet is too thick to fold in at the ends, and thus they will remain open-ended.

Arrange in a plate, drizzle with a little soy sauce and sesame oil. Ensure plate is sufficiently deep as the filling will expel some gravy as it cooks.

Steam for ~20 mintues


The tofu sheet is a non-porous material, and therefore helped retain moisture within the meat. As the ends were not sealed, the filling at the end cooked first and formed a barrier. When the filling in the middle cooked, it emits a soupy juice, part of which was retained within the roll. The result was a particularly moist filling.


The tofu sheet serves as a moisture-retaining barrier.


While the end result looks interesting, the advantages conferred by using tofu sheets is questionable. It is conceivable that an alternative method can be used to ensure minced meat does not dry out during the course of cooking, such as using a covered small deep bowl.

Therefore, the author's opinion on the practical use of the tofu sheet lies in the areas of aesthetics, flavour and texture.

Further work

An alternate application would be small squares of tofu sheets with filling in the middle and the corners brought together as to bound the filling inside the package (similar to a wonton). As the tofu sheet is not inherently sticky, a means of fastening the structure would have to be developed. Using lengths of dried preserved vegetable to tie the package together is suggested but not yet tested.

It is envisioned that the above approach will retain all of the filling's gravy within the package, resulting in a wet and nasty surprise for unsuspecting consumers who bites into the package. Further work is required in this area to verify the practicality of such an approach.

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