A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from February 10, 2019
Pipa Tofu (Pei Pa Tofu)

A “pipa” is a Chinese musical instrument, similar to a lute. “Pipa tofu” (also “pi pa tofu,” “peipa tofu” and “pei pa tofu") is tofu that is shaped like this instrument. The tofu dish usually contains mushrooms and prawns.

Pipa Tofu, is mashed tofu, bacon, water chestnuts, black mushrooms and bamboo shoots” was printed in Westways magazine in 1989. “Deep Fried Pipa Tofu” was advertised in the Honolulu (HI) Star-Bulletin on May 1, 1991. “Pipa tofu, bean curd mixed with mushroom and prawn and then whipped into a froth and deep fried” was printed in the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) on September 13, 1991. ”Pipa tofu, named after the Chinese lute whose shape this dish imitates, was a golden fried pear of minced tofu enhanced with slices of Chinese sausage, little dried shrimps and crunchy water chestnuts” was printed in the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald on October 8, 1991.

Some have compared pipa tofu to beignets. “Pei pah tofu, with the sauce separate, so you can have the little tofu beignets still crisp, yet dunked in gravy sauce” was posted on Twitter by Wai Yee Hong on August 28, 2017. “I love that @restingchef likens these to tofu begniets. Peipa tofu” was posted on Twitter by Wai Yee Hong on June 9, 2018.


Wikipedia: Pipa
The pipa (Chinese: 琵琶) is a four-stringed Chinese musical instrument, belonging to the plucked category of instruments. Sometimes called the Chinese lute, the instrument has a pear-shaped wooden body with a varying number of frets ranging from 12 to 26. Another Chinese four-string plucked lute is the liuqin, which looks like a smaller version of the pipa. The pear-shaped instrument may have existed in China as early as the Han dynasty, and although historically the term pipa was once used to refer to a variety of plucked chordophones, its usage since the Song dynasty refers exclusively to the pear-shaped instrument.

Google Books
Westways
Automobile Club of Southern California
Volume 89
1989
Pg. 59:
... and Pipa Tofu, is mashed tofu, bacon, water chestnuts, black mushrooms and bamboo shoots.

1 May 1991, Honolulu (HI) Star-Bulletin, pg. A-23, col. 2 ad:
DEEP FRIED PIPA TOFU
(Chan’s Chinese Restaurant, 2600 South King Street.—ed.)

13 September 1991, South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), “Delving into the seafood system” by Kevin Sinclair, pg. 24, col. 9:
This consists of pipa tofu, bean curd mixed with mushroom and prawn and then whipped into a froth and deep fried. Served on a bed of juicy choi sum and covered with the sauce in which it has shared the wok, this is a dish of genius.

The name comes from a legend which holds the tofu mixture was stirred with a string of the musical instrument, the pipa.

8 October 1991, Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald, “A Special Occasion” by Michael Dowe, Good Living Sec., pg. 3, col. 6:
(Gourmets Inn, 639 Military Road, Mosman.—ed.)
Pipa tofu, named after the Chinese lute whose shape this dish imitates, was a golden fried pear of minced tofu enhanced with slices of Chinese sausage, little dried shrimps and crunchy water chestnuts. Ignore the disturbingly red sweet sauce that may be proffered with this dish for it will swamp it.

30 August 1992, San Francisco (CA) Chronicle, “An Authentic Gem In Chinatown’s Heart” by Patricia Unterman, Datebook sec., pg. 19, col. 1:
(Oriental Pearl, 760/778 Clay Street, San Francisco.—ed.)
Another extraordinary dish, called Pei Pa Tofu ($6.50), brings spicy, browned dumplings of bean curd in a light gravy. I couldn’t stop eating them.

24 April 1994, Honolulu (HI) , pg. A8, col. 1 ad:
Pi-Pa Tofu
(Chan’s Chinese Restaurant, 2600 South King Street.—ed.)

Google Groups: uk.food+drink.chinese
need help in old PeiPa tofu recipe
DC.
1/11/05
I’m trying to find an old Pei Pa Tofu recipe, from the 70’s i believe, i was told the recipe has a distinct taste of dried tangerine peel or maybe a spice like PaatKok(star anise)... does anyone remember eating this version before or have this recipe? Thanks.

Twitter
MachoManda
@MachoManda
he got pepper steak...I had pi pa tofu...so amazing
3:41 PM - 17 Mar 2009

YouTube
Chinese Pei Pa Tofu With Egg Gravy - Chef Pei Ling - World Food Studio
World Food Studio
Published on Apr 8, 2016
Chinese Pei Pa Tofu With Egg Gravy - Chef Pei Ling - World Food Studio

Twitter
Wai Yee Hong
@waiyeehong
Pei pah tofu, with the sauce separate, so you can have the little tofu beignets still crisp, yet dunked in gravy sauce.
4:39 PM - 28 Aug 2017

Yum China
Pipa Tofu Recipe – Three Methods
Tiana Matson • March 1, 2018
(...)
To be precise, the Chinese tofu dish assumes the shape of a traditional pipa musical instruments.
(...)
Ingredients you need for your pipa tofu

250 grams white tofu
2 tablespoon chopped mushroom
Minced prawns
2 tablespoon chopped carrots
A large egg-white
Ground white pepper
3 tablespoon of potato flour
400 ml cooking flour

Twitter
Wai Yee Hong
@waiyeehong
I love that @restingchef likens these to tofu begniets. Peipa tofu. #TheClan
plate of pei pa tofu with bowl of sauce behind.
4:11 PM - 9 Jun 2018

YouTube
#spicenpans #tofurecipes #chineserecipes
SUPER YUMMY Pipa Tofu in Scallop Sauce 干贝琵琶豆腐 Chinese New Year Dish Idea / Recipe
Spice N’ Pans
Published on Dec 15, 2018
Look at how classy this tofu recipe turned out. Doesn’t it look perfect for your Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner? Although we used silken tofu in this video but we think the tofu will taste a lot better if egg tofu is used.

Twitter
Wai Yee Hong
@waiyeehong
Kiddies’ favourite. Tofu begniets, as @jampusher calls them! Peipa tofu.  #ChineseNewYear #ReunionDinner #TheClan
2:48 PM - 4 Feb 2019

Twitter
denise @ home in mdzs hell
@denisekuan
Omg tonight is a happy night because I successfully made 琵琶豆腐 (pei pa tofu)!!! One of my favorite dishes that I ate growing up
12:26 AM - 3 Feb 2019

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Sunday, February 10, 2019 • Permalink