This very elegant looking dish, Steamed Fish Cake with Mushrooms Wrapped in Tofu Skin, is a perfect side dish for a special occasion. The fish paste is seasoned lightly to enhance the original flavour of the paste.
Rolling fish paste in a sheet of tofu skin with shiitake mushrooms inside is a little bit of a challenge, but when you slice the steamed fish cake and see the beautiful pattern of the shiitake mushrooms, you know that it was worth the effort.
I served this at my Kaiseki dinner for my friends last year. It certainly had a wow-factor.
Japanese Tofu Skin vs Chinese Tofu Skin
In my post, Dried Tofu Skin Soup Two Ways, I explained about the Japanese Tofu Skin called ‘yuba’ (湯葉). I also wrote about the Chinese version of dried tofu skin. The big difference between the Japanese version and the Chinese version is the thickness and texture of the tofu skin.
The Japanese dried tofu skin is crisper and therefore very fragile, particularly a sheet of tofu skin required for today’s dish.
I made Steamed Fish Cake with Mushrooms Wrapped in Tofu Skin using a Japanese tofu skin as well as a Chinese tofu skin. I found that the Chinese tofu skin was much easier to handle. It was more durable and not as crispy as the Japanese version.
The Japanese tofu skin sheets need to be moisten before using it. But when I bought them in a pack, they were so fragile that many of them were already broken in half or cracked in many places. I could not use them as a wrapper.
To me, there is also a difference in the flavour of the tofu skin – the Japanese tofu skin tastes has a delicate flavour and better. I find that the Chinese tofu skin has a touch of bitterness. However, it’s negligible for today’s dish.
So, I recommend that you use Chinese dried tofu skin sheets if you are wrapping ingredients. They are also much cheaper compared to the Japanese products.
What’s in My Steamed Fish Cake with Mushrooms Wrapped in Tofu Skin
There are a lot of ingredients involved in today’s dish, so I put the ingredients into groups.
- 20cm x 20cm/8” x 8” dried tofu skin sheet (see the right sheet above)
- Dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated
- Spinach leaves (or mitsuba – wild Japanese parsley), blanched
- Corn flour/cornstarch mixed in water (not in photo)
- White flesh fish fillets, cut into chunks
- Uncooked prawns/shrimp
- Egg white
- Cooking sake
- Dashi stock
- Corn flour/cornstarch
- Dashi stock or liquid from rehydrated shiitake
- Soy sauce
The fish paste is made of fish fillet and prawn/shrimp, but you can make it with just fish fillet.
In addition to the above ingredients, you will need a bamboo sushi rolling mat (any one of these is OK).
How to make Steamed Fish Cake with Mushrooms Wrapped in Tofu Skin
Preparing for the fish paste and other ingredients to go into the fish cake is quite easy. The challenge is rolling the fish paste in a sheet of tofu skin. Also watch the video above the recipe card.
- Cook shiitake mushrooms with the Shiitake Flavouring ingredients until the liquid is almost evaporated.
- Put all the Fish Paste ingredients in a food processor and whizz to make a smooth paste.
- Place the tofu skin sheet on a bamboo sushi rolling mat and soften the sheet with wet kitchen paper.
- Spread some fish paste over the tofu skin and place the spinach leaves crosswise.
- Spread the rest of the fish paste over, then place the shiitake mushrooms on the edge.
- Roll the bamboo mat starting from the shiitake side.
- Before you finish rolling, wet the end of the tofu skin sheet with a corn flour/cornstarch and water mixture as a glue, then finish rolling.
- Wrap the fish paste roll in the bamboo mat and steam for 20 minutes.
- Remove the mat, let it cool a bit, then slice the roll into discs.
Today’s recipe is created from the recipe on the website Bob & Angie (trademark of Osaka Gas Company). I changed the ingredients and quantity slightly to suit to my palate. I also added more detailed instructions, particularly the method of rolling the fish paste in tofu skin. The original recipe did not explain where the shiitake mushrooms and spinach should be placed to centre them when rolled in the fish paste.
I made so many rolls to work out the best way of rolling the ingredients and made numerous mistakes. But even if the sliced pieces are not as pretty as I wanted them to be, they always tasted great without fail.
Variations to the Steamed Fish Cake Wrapped in Tofu Skin
If placing hole shiitake mushrooms inside the paste is difficult, you can scatter sliced mushrooms instead. You may even want to replace whole shiitake mushrooms with a few colourful vegetables such as carrot sticks, beans, and sliced mushrooms.
The photo below is a fish cake wrapped in konbu (kelp). Instead of a tofu skin sheet, I used a large sheet of konbu to wrap the fish paste. Rehydrated konbu is slimy and rolling the fish paste can be very slippery. But the sliced Steamed Fish Cake looks quite attractive with the black rim around the fish cake pieces. The texture is great too.
Inside of the fish cake are blanched okra and spinach. When I made this, I used fresh tiger prawns and fish fillets to make a paste. That’s the reason why you can see the red dots from the prawn in the fish cake.
Konbu needs to be boiled gently until softened. Konbu does not become soft by just rehydrating and steaming as a wrapper.
Watch How To Make It
This very elegant looking dish, Steamed Fish Cake with Mushrooms Wrapped in Tofu Skin, is a perfect side dish for a special occasion. The fish paste is seasoned lightly to enhance the original flavour of the paste. (Watch the Video)
You can keep the dish in the fridge for few days.
Prep Time does not include the time to rehydrate the shiitake mushrooms. The best method of rehydrating shiitake mushrooms: Soak dried mushrooms in good amount of water and leave in the fridge overnight.
Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
- 1 sheet dried tofu skin (20cm x 20cm/8” x 8”, note 1)
- 5 dried shiitake mushrooms , rehydrated (note 2)
- Few spinach leaves with stem , blanched (note 3)
- 2 pinches of corn flour/cornstarch , mixed in small amount of water
Put all the Shiitake Flavours ingredients and rehydrated shiitake in a saucepan and bring it to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low and cook for 7-8 minutes until the liquid is almost evaporated. Let it cool.
Cut the fish fillets into smaller chunks and put them in a food processor together with prawns/shrimp.
Mix the corn flour/cornstarch and dashi stock well and add to the food processor together with the rest of the Fish Paste ingredients.
Whizz until the mixture becomes a smooth paste. Transfer the paste to a bowl.
Wet a couple of sheets of kitchen paper and squeeze excess water out.
Place the tofu skin sheet on a bamboo sushi rolling mat and press the wet kitchen paper down onto the tofu skin to moisten the surface of the tofu skin. This will soften the tofu skin.
Align the edges of the tofu skin and the bamboo mat close to you.
Spread about ⅓ of the fish paste thinly on the tofu skin to cover half of the sheet closer to you. Run your finger crosswise in the centre to make a shallow ditch.
Squeeze as much water out of the spinach as possible, and place the spinach leaves along the ditch, making a thin green line crosswise (note 6).
Put the remaining fish paste onto the tofu skin, spreading it to cover ⅔ of the sheet, leaving ⅓ away from you with no paste. Make sure that the spinach is covered with the fish paste and the paste along the edge close to you is slightly thicker.
Squeeze out the liquid from the shiitake mushrooms as much as possible and place them along the edge close to you, smooth side up. Gently press down so that the fish paste fills the cavity underneath the mushroom caps.
Pick up your end of the bamboo mat and slowly roll the tofu skin, just like you roll Take Away Sushi Rolls. But do not tighten the mat and press the rolls too firmly (note 7). As you roll, push the opening of the rolls on both sides with your fingers, as the shiitake mushrooms might get squeezed out.
Wet the edge of the tofu skin away from you with the corn flour/cornstarch mixed in water (use as a glue) and finish rolling.
Wrap the fish cake, roll in the bamboo mat, and steam it at medium-low heat for 20 minutes (note 8).
Transfer the fish cake roll in a bamboo mat to a cutting board and gently unroll the mat (note 9).
Let it cool until you can handle the roll, then slice it into 1-1.3cm/⅜-½” wide discs.
1. I used a sheet of Chinese dried tofu skin (see the photo in post). You can also use a Japanese dried tofu skin called ‘yuba’ (see the photo in post) but you will need to take extra care to handle yuba because it is very fragile.
2. You need to use small shiitake mushrooms. My dried shiitake mushrooms were about 3cm/1⅛” in diameter.
3. The original recipe used Japanese green leaves called mitsuba (wild Japanese parsley/the Japanese version of Cryptotaenia), but I changed it to spinach which is more accessible to everyone.
You can blanch spinach leaves in boiling water or steam in microwave for 15 seconds or so by wrapping them in cling wrap. Cool them down immediately under running water.
4. I used ocean perch, but you can use any white meat fillets such as flathead, cod, latchet/gurnard, or snapper.
5. I used frozen peeled prawns, but you can of course use fresh prawns.
6. Change the direction of the spinach leaves so that stems and leaves are evenly spread.
7. This is because the fish paste expands while steaming and the tofu skin breaks if it is rolled too tightly.
8. If the fish paste is stuck on the bamboo mat, wipe it off using wet kitchen paper before wrapping the roll in it. Otherwise, the tofu skin gets glued onto the mat when steamed.
9. As you unroll the bamboo mat, you may run your fingers along the line where the tofu skin and the bamboo mat are still intact. This will prevent the tofu skin from sticking to the mat and breaking.
10. One side of the disc does not always show the pretty shape of the shiitake mushrooms because of the round shape of the mushrooms. When serving the fish cakes, place the better side up.
11. See the last section of the post for variations to the Steamed Fish Cake.
12. Nutrition per serving, assumed 4 servings.
serving: 100g calories: 407kcal fat: 1.1g (2%) saturated fat: 0.3g (1%) trans fat: 0.0g polyunsaturated fat: 0.3g monounsaturated fat: 0.2g cholesterol: 70mg (23%) sodium: 634mg (26%) potassium: 339mg (10%) carbohydrates: 7.7g (3%) dietary fibre: 0.7g (3%) sugar: 1.8g protein: 15g vitamin a: 13% vitamin c: 4.3% calcium: 4.6% iron: 4.4
** This recipe is created from the recipe in the website Bob & Angie (trademark of Osaka Gas Company). I changed the ingredients and quantity slightly to suit to my palate. I also added more detailed instructions, particularly the method of rolling fish paste in tofu skin.