Purple Seaweed and Tofu Soup

Ever heard of Chinese purple seaweed? It’s called 紫菜 ‘zi chai’ in mandarin or ‘jee choi’ in Cantonese, translated as ‘purple vegetable’. This seaweed is very similar to Wales laverbread or the seaweed for Japanese sushi wrapper. You can get this from any Chinese supermarkets like from here

This seaweed is sold dried in round discs and the colour is jet black with a purplish sheen (how it gets its name), once cooked it becomes reddish brown. It swells up a lot when soaked so a little goes a long way. This seaweed is not cooked to a mush like Welsh laver bread. Normally takes about 10 min boiling so it still has a slight crunch. I normally use it for soup like this recipe below.

Chinese: 紫菜豆腐

3 cups Pork or chicken stock (homemade or stock cube)

150 – 180g minced pork*

1/3 piece seaweed or Zi Cai

1 piece (7cm sq) chinese tofu**

1 - 2 tbsp cooking wine or brandy

soy sauce and/or salt

ground pepper

some sesame oil or chilli oil

1 stalk of spring onion, chopped

  1. Add dash of soy and pinch of pepper to minced pork, mix and leave aside.
  2. Soak the seaweed for 10 minutes till softened. Pour into a sieve and drain off excess water.
  3. Heat the stock till boiling
  4. Use a teaspoon and shape pork into tiny meatballs and drop straight into the boiling stock. Boil for few minutes.
  5. Add seaweed and tofu cut into bite size. Boil for another few minutes till piping hot.
  6. Seasoned with enough soy or salt, ground pepper and wine/brandy.
  7. Pour into soup bowl sprinkle with chopped spring onion and few drops of chilli oil or sesame oil


* For vegetarian version, use vegetable stock and replace pork with a handful button mushrooms.
**If you don’t have tofu, you can swirl in one beaten egg at end of the cooking while the liquid is boiling hot to form egg ribbons.


  1. My mum made this recently and it was delicious. I love the texture of the seaweed, delicious.

  2. It's good isn't it? If you never have it before it's bit like wakame.


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