T?ang Emperor?s Surprise

The finished dish slightly resembles a deep-fried fish, and acquires its “fishy” taste from the nori seaweed.

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The finished dish slightly resembles a deep-fried fish, and acquires its “fishy” taste from the nori seaweed.




  • 2 to 3 large Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 lb.)
  • 2 qt. water
  • 2 Tbs. nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 4x8-inch sheet nori seaweed
  • 1 25-inch round (11/3-oz. sheet) bean curd skin, room temperature
  • 2 Tbs. cornstarch mixed with enough water to form paste


  • 1 egg or 1/4 cup egg substitute
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups vegetable oil for deep-frying


  • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbs. ginger, julienned
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, julienned
  • 2 scallions, trimmed and julienned
  • 2 large dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked, stemmed and minced
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tbs. regular or low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. cornstarch


To make “Fish”: Peel potatoes, and slice 1/4-inch thick. Heat 2 quarts water in large pot over medium-high heat. Add yeast flakes, salt and sliced potatoes, and boil until potatoes tender, about 5 minutes. Drain carefully to prevent slices from breaking apart, and set aside until cool enough to handle.

Sort potato slices by size, and discard broken pieces. Place bean curd skin flat in large baking pan. Trim off edges to make large rectangle, and mist surface lightly with water to soften. Place piece of nori on center of sheet, and overlap potato slices, starting with small ones for “fish tail,” larger ones for “fish body,” and medium-sized ones for “fish head.” Wrap potato slices all around with bean curd skin, and tuck in skin at “head,” letting it fan out at “tail” end like fin. Brush cornstarch mixture on edges of bean curd sheet, and fold over, pressing edges together to hold skin in place. Wrap well in plastic wrap, and chill for several hours or overnight.

To make Batter: At serving time, beat egg with water and salt, and whisk in flour; consistency is lumpy. Pour batter over “fish,” coating top and under side. Heat wok over high heat, add oil and heat to 375F. Using two spatulas, carefully place “fish” in oil, and deep-fry for 5 minutes per side, or until golden brown and crispy. Using large spatulas, remove to serving platter. Discard all but 2 tablespoons oil. Keep warm.

To make Sauce: Heat wok over high heat. Add oil, and stir-fry ginger 30 seconds. Add green pepper, scallions and mushrooms, and stir-fry 1 minute more. Mix sugar, vinegar, water, soy sauce and cornstarch in small bowl, and add to wok. Stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes, or until sauce turns clear, and pour over “fish” before serving.

Wine Suggestions

This dish strikes a nice balance between the earthy richness of the deep-fried potatoes and the sweet-and-sour sauce that dresses it. A good wine match for this dish is Hugues Beaulieu Côteaux du Languedoc Picpoul de Pinet.

Nutrition Information

  • Calories 270
  • Carbohydrate Content 34 g
  • Cholesterol Content 35 mg
  • Fat Content 11 g
  • Fiber Content 2 g
  • Protein Content 8 g
  • Saturated Fat Content 3 g
  • Sodium Content 1130 mg
  • Sugar Content 10 g