Tofu and chrysanthemum leaf rolls with pork sauce

Tofu and chrysanthemum leaf rolls with pork sauce

The Real Food of China
Leanne Kitchen

Muttering darkly on one trip that we weren’t going to make it to Dongbei in China’s extreme northeast, we consoled ourselves with a meaty feast from the region at a branch of Dongbei Ren, a restaurant in Shanghai. This is our version of a most intriguing dish that we ate there. We’ve used frozen tofu sheets here, although it’s way better made with fresh pressed tofu sheets, if you can find them.


Quantity Ingredient
1 bunch chrysanthemum leaves
2 frozen large tofu sheets, thawed
24 spring onions, about 23 cm in length, green parts only, for tying

Pork sauce

Quantity Ingredient
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
300g minced pork, not too lean
150ml yellow bean sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons clear rice vinegar
3 teaspoons clear rice wine
200ml Chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons cornflour


  1. To make the pork sauce, heat the oil in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and pork and cook, stirring to break up the meat, for 4–5 minutes, or until the onion has softened slightly and the pork has changed colour. Add the remaining ingredients, except the cornflour, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Combine the cornflour with 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl and mix to form a smooth paste. Stirring the pork sauce constantly, add the cornflour paste to the sauce and cook for 1–2 minutes, or until it simmers and thickens.
  2. Meanwhile, pick the chrysanthemum leaves from the long, thick stems, discarding any thick stems. Gently wash the leaves and spin dry. Divide the leaves into eight even piles. Cut each tofu sheet into four pieces widthwise, to give you eight pieces that measure around 24 x 12 cm.
  3. Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, add the spring onion lengths and blanch for 1 minute, or until softened, then drain well. Working with one piece of tofu at a time, place a portion of chrysanthemum leaves along the middle of the sheet, arranging them so that half the leaves (and not the stems) are hanging out a little at one end and half are hanging out the other end. Roll the tofu sheets up quite firmly around the chrysanthemum leaves. Using a blanched spring onion stem, tie each end of the roll to secure it. Continue until all the tofu sheet pieces and leaves are used — you probably won’t need all the spring onion stems, but some may break. Place the rolls on a platter and serve immediately with the hot or warm pork sauce.
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