A bowl of tofu soup with various vegetables can be very refreshing and soothing, and the addition of papery dried shrimp makes it even more appealing.
The festive season is just around the corner: Christmas first, then Chinese Spring festival. There will be all sorts of exciting meals and dinner parties going on. Today I’d like to introduce a dish that I often crave the day after a festive feast: Tofu soup with papery dried shrimp (虾皮豆腐汤) . It’s refreshing, soothing and full of goodness.
It tastes so natural
Even though I’m a huge fan of heavily spiced food, I do also appreciate simple dishes which give my palate a good chance to relax and enjoy the subtle taste of each ingredient. My tofu soup is a great example. With very little seasoning, it offers a set of well-balanced natural flavour: the fragrance of soy from tofu, the sweetness from carrot, the light sourness from tomato and the earthy taste from Chinese cabbage and shiitake mushrooms.
Papery dried shrimp is the key
On the ingredient list, there is one thing you might be unfamiliar with: papery dried shrimp (虾皮). It plays a key role in adding an extra magical zing to my tofu soup. Literally meaning “shrimp skin” in Chinese, they are tiny little shrimps (with heads and shell on) that are baked dry (or sun-dried in some cases) after being boiled.
You can find papery dried shrimp in many Chinese dishes: stir-fries, stews, dumpling fillings and soup. Due to their small size, you might not notice them , but you are unlikely to ignore their unique taste: salty and pleasantly fishy, papery dried shrimp offers umami (鲜味, aka savoury taste, it’s one of the five basic tastes) to dishes.
A note: Don’t confuse papery dried shrimp with regular dried shrimps (干虾仁/海米) which are headless, bigger and require soaking before cooking. You may use regular ones for this dish too. Just remember to coarsely chop them to release their fragrance.
Hope you enjoyed reading my post. If you haven’t tried papery dried shrimp, I encourage you to give it a try.
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