One of Shanghai’s most famous and beloved soups is Shepherd’s Purse Tofu Soup. The Shepherd’s Purse (Ji Cai) in our Pork and Shepherd’s Purse (Xiao Long Bao) Dumplings is a special vegetable with a wonderful aroma and flavor. You could find ji cài in the freezer section of a well-stocked Chinese supermarket. Read up on Chinese leafy greens if you’re unfamiliar with this vegetable.
Whatever the case, the good news is that all of these recipes have been approved by my daughter’s taste buds!
- 8 oz. of frozen Shepherd’s purse(225g; can substitute frozen spinach)
- ½ block of silken tofu (about 7 ounces, 200g)
- 4 cups of homemade chicken stock
- 1 1/2 tsp. of salt (or to taste)
- 1 tsp. of sesame oil
- ¼ tsp. of ground white pepper (or to taste)
- 1/4 cup of cornstarch (mixed with ¼ cup water)
- 3 egg whites
- Shepherd’s purse needs to thaw in a colander. When completely defrosted, squeeze the excess water out with your hands. Leaves should be chopped up into tiny bits. Put off to the side.
- Cube the silken tofu to a half-inch thickness. Take it out of the way. Don’t stress if they aren’t perfectly cubed; the silken tofu is delicate, and it can be difficult to keep it in that shape.
- The chicken stock should be heated in a medium-sized pot or wok. Put in the white pepper, sesame oil, and salt. Bring everything to a low boil.
- Since the cornstarch will sink to the bottom of the bowl if left unmixed, you’ll need to stir your mixture before using it. Reduce the heat and stir the soup vigorously with a metal hoak or soup ladle in a circular motion to get it moving and swirling. As you stir, gradually add the cornstarch slurry to the soup. Cornstarch can thicken the soup, but clumping can occur if the soup is not constantly stirred while the heat is on.
- Stirring constantly, return the pot to a low simmer. Taste the soup to see if more salt is required. Given that both the Shepherd’s purse and the silken tofu are unseasoned, you can rest easy if the soup turns out to be saltier than you’d like.
- Add the chopped Shepherd’s purse and simmer for an additional minute. The leaves should be evenly distributed after stirring.
- Carefully drop the cubes of silken tofu into the soup and stir until fully incorporated, but don’t overdo it, or you’ll end up with a mushy mess. For the best flavor, distribute the tofu and Shepherd’s purse throughout the soup, and make sure they both get an even amount of cooking time. In about 2–4 minutes, the soup will reach a simmer. If you prefer your soup to be thicker, you can add more cornstarch slurry at this point; however, keep in mind that the soup will thicken even more as it cools.
- Egg whites should be beaten for about 10 seconds or until the white is broken up and starts to bubble.
- Then, stir the soup by circling the ladle or hook around the edge of the pot or wok in a wide, steady motion. Sprinkle the egg white over the soup gradually.
- Now is the time to bring the soup to a gentle simmer. Salt, white pepper, and sesame oil can be added to taste after another taste test of the soup. (Sesame oil and, especially, white pepper improve the Shepherd’s purse’s flavor; add more to taste, or set out the condiments for people to sprinkle on their own.)
- Serve in individual bowls or transfer to a large serving bowl for a family meal.