Ma Lan Tou Spiced Tofu, A Shanghai Favorite
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This Ma Lan Tou Spiced tofu dish is a Shanghainese favorite cold appetizer dish. The key vegetable used, ma lan tou, is very fragrant, and when combined with cold spiced tofu, it makes for a really lovely refreshing dish for the summer months.
Recipe type: Tofu
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 6 servings
  • 12 ounces ma lan tou (马兰头)
  • 4 ounces dried tofu (dòufu gān - 豆腐干)
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  1. Wash the ma lan tou thoroughly, removing any yellow leaves. We like to wash our leafy green veggies three times. Prepare a wok of boiling water and blanch the ma lan tou for about 15 seconds, or until just wilted. Transfer immediately to an ice bath to cool.
  2. Using a colander, drain all water from the veggies, and use your hands to squeeze out any excess. You’ll end up with a small bunch of ma lan tou. Keeping it in one bundle as best as possible, finely chop the veggies. Cut the tofu into small cubes like you see in the picture.
  3. Transfer the chopped ma lan tou and chopped tofu to a mixing bowl, and add the salt, sugar, and oil. Mix thoroughly. The tablespoon of sesame oil will be quite fragrant, and if you want a more subtle flavor, reduce the sesame oil to 1 teaspoon, and add 2 teaspoons of peanut oil instead.
  4. I recommend that you add the salt, sugar, and sesame oil gradually, let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld, and then adjust the seasonings to your own liking. I consulted Judy’s mother when making this dish with the amounts in this recipe, and she gave her nod of approval that it tastes the way Shanghainese like it--just enough salt with a hint of sweetness!
  5. You can make this dish ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve. If you want to get a little fancy, lightly pack the mixture into a mold (we used a rice bowl), turn it over onto your dish of choice, and serve!
Recipe by The Woks of Life at