Fish paste stuffed tofu is a Chinese home cooking classic that makes for an easy lunch or dinner. Simply mix fish paste with garlic, green onions, and white pepper. Smear onto tofu slices and pan fry. So good! Hot and savory. P.S. If you love this recipe, make sure to try our Pork Stuffed Tofu ^_^
Why This Recipe Works
Fish Paste Stuffed Tofu is super easy to make and very satisfying. We've been eating this dish since we were kids. My grandma used to make it for weeknight dinners to simple weekend lunches.
It's full of flavor and feels like quite a special treat. Plus you get fish and tofu in one dish!
We purchase fresh fish paste from Chinatown, and then mix it with minced garlic, green onions, and white pepper. We also add a little sesame oil for flavor.
Then smear the fish paste onto slices of tofu. Pan fry both sides. Place and then top with soy sauce and sesame oil. Eat and enjoy! Best with a bowl of rice.
Fish paste is exactly what it sounds like. It it a paste made out of fish. It's a popular ingredient in many Chinese recipes (including our black pepper and garlic Fish Balls). Fish paste is typically made from a white fish, like pollack or tilapia.
The fresh fish is chopped and then blended/ground with arrowroot starch (or cornstarch). It's lightly seasoned and whipped until it becomes a silky paste. And then it's sold to you! Once you take a container of fish paste home, you can season it some more, scoop, and shape as needed for your specific dish.
We buy fresh fish paste in Chinatown. For many years, our go-to vendor had a stall at Oahu Market. My grandma stared going there in the 1980s! I would accompany her to buy fish paste by the pound. When I got older and grandma could no longer get to Chinatown on her own, I would get fish paste for the family. But then the owners retired in 2021.
For a while we didn't have a fresh fish paste source in Hawaii. But then a meat vendor told us about another great vendor for fish paste located in Kekaulike Market. We have been going to that vendor ever since, and they are great! I don't know the name of that vendor, but there's only one vendor inside Kekaulike Market that sells fish paste.
They're located near the back of the market and the fish paste is in a big tray behind glass counters. You purchase it by the pound. They have a $6.50/pound option and a $7.50/pound option. The $7.50/pound fish paste has a better "bounce" texture so that's the one we get.
If you don't have a fresh fish paste vendor at your local Chinatown, just find a big Chinese supermarket and they will likely carry fish paste (either in the refrigerated or frozen section). Fish paste is delicious and versatile.
Here's what you'll need:
Step by Step Directions
Drain and pat the tofu dry. Cut it in half lengthwise, then cut into 12 squares. Set aside on a plate.
Prepare fish paste.
Combine the fish paste, green onions, garlic cloves, white pepper, and sesame oil.
The sesame oil is optional but adds nice flavor and makes the fish paste more silky texture. Use a fork or chopsticks to mix until smooth.
Protip: Mix the fish paste in one direction to make it really smooth. We go clockwise but you can go in any direction as long as you keep mixing in that same direction.
Smear fish paste on tofu.
Using a spoon, gently smear a spoonful (about 1 tablespoon) of the fish paste on the tofu. Repeat until you've done the same with all 12 pieces of tofu.
Protip: If you have extra time, make a shallow scoop (about 1 teaspoon) from the center of the tofu (as we do for this pork stuffed tofu recipe). This will help the fish paste "stick" better to the tofu slices and help it from sliding off when you cook.
Pan fry tofu side down for 4-5 minutes over medium heat, until the tofu is a golden brown color.
Pan fry the fish paste side.
Flip and pan fry the fish paste down for a few minutes until cooked through.
Serve, season, and eat.
Remove to a plate and serve hot! Top with more chopped green onions. Drizzle soy sauce and sesame oil over the whole dish to give it extra flavor. Eat and enjoy.
FAQs and Tips
2-3 days in the refrigerator.
Reheat the fish paste stuffed tofu in a small pan over medium heat. Pan fry both sides until the dish is warmed through.
There are many things! Sometimes we just eat it by itself as a hot and savory afternoon snack. Or for meals, we serve it alongside a big pot of jook / congee or plain rice.
To make this a really complete meal, serve with rice, a simple soup (like chicken broth or egg drop soup) and a vegetable dish like Garlic and Fish Sauce Ong Choy or Stir Fried Lettuce.
Fish Paste Stuffed Tofu Recipe
See below and enjoy ^_^
- Drain and pat the tofu dry. Cut it in half lengthwise, then cut into 12 squares. Set aside on a plate.
- Combine the fish paste, green onions, garlic cloves, white pepper, and sesame oil (optional). Use a fork or chopsticks to mix until smooth. Make sure to mix it in one direction (we go clockwise but you can do any direction as long as you keep mixing in that same direction).
- Using a spoon, gently smear a spoonful (about 1 tablespoon) of the fish paste on the tofu. Repeat until you've done the same with all 12 pieces.
- Add a little oil to a pan and turn to medium heat. Slide each tofu piece into the pan with the tofu-side facing down. Pan fry for 4-5 minutes until the tofu is a nice golden brown color.
- Carefully flip over and pan fry the fish paste-side down for another 3-4 minutes until cooked through.
- Remove to a plate and serve hot! Top with more chopped green onions if you'd like. We also like to drizzle a little soy sauce and sesame oil over the whole dish to give it extra flavor. Eat and enjoy.
- The sesame oil in Step #2 is optional. We like to add it because it adds more flavor to the fish paste and also gives the fish paste a more silky/smooth texture.
- If you have extra time, make a very shallow scoop (about 1 teaspoon) from the center of the tofu (like we do in this pork stuffed tofu recipe). This will help the fish paste better "stick" to the tofu slices.