Leatherjacket with spicy braised bamboo and tofu skins

Leatherjacket with spicy braised bamboo and tofu skins

The Real Food of China
Leanne Kitchen

You could happily serve the tofu skin ‘stew’ here on its own — and if you’re vegetarian feel free — but throw deep-fried leatherjacket into the equation and you’ve got the best kind of quick meal ever. Steam some rice, toss some green leafy vegetables in a hot wok and you’ve got a great casual (and spicy) meal on your hands. Leatherjackets tend to be a bit underrated, but they have a lovely firm texture that holds its shape and stands up to robust flavours, they are usually sold cleaned, with their heads and tough skins removed, and are listed as a sustainable seafood choice.


Quantity Ingredient
200g dried tofu skins
4 leatherjackets, heads removed
1 egg white, beaten
60ml shaoxing rice wine
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons cornflour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus extra for deep-frying
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, finely chopped
2 teaspoons sichuan peppercorns
300g frozen bamboo shoots, thawed and cut into matchsticks
2 1/2 tablespoons sichuan chilli bean paste
1 1/2 tablespoons fermented black beans, rinsed
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon black rice vinegar
625ml Chicken stock
potato flour, for dusting


  1. Put the tofu skins in a large bowl, cover with water and soak for about 1 hour, or until softened, weighting the skins down with an inverted plate to keep them submerged. Drain well, then squeeze out as much water as possible. Cut the skins into 1 cm wide strips and set aside.
  2. Using a large, sharp knife, cut three or four diagonal slashes on both sides of each leatherjacket, taking care not to cut through to the bone. Put the egg white, half of the rice wine, the salt and cornflour in a large bowl and whisk to combine well. Add the fish and turn to coat, then cover the bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Heat the oil in a wok over a medium heat, then add the garlic, ginger, peppercorns and bamboo shoots and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, or until fragrant and the bamboo has softened slightly. Add the chilli bean paste and black beans and cook, stirring, for another minute. Add the remaining rice wine, the soy sauce, vinegar and stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the bamboo is tender, then stir in the strips of tofu skin.
  4. Fill a wok one-third full of oil and heat to 180°C, or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns deep golden in 15 seconds. Put the potato flour on a plate, then dust each fish in the flour, shaking off the excess. Deep-fry the fish, two at a time, for about 7 minutes, or until cooked through. Divide the bamboo and tofu skin mixture among four deep bowls and place a leatherjacket on top of each. Serve immediately.
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