Anyway, you asked for it (well, two or three of you anyway), you got it:
BadDoggie's Chinese Vegan "Fish" (which tastes nothing like fish)
Prep: 10 mins
Cooking: 30 mins plus 3mins if fry-finishing
- 450g/16oz tofu
- 160g/6oz water chestnuts
- 160g/6oz enoki mushrooms
- 2 sheets bean curd skin
- 2 sheets purple laver (seaweed)
- 1 egg (or egg substitute)
- 1T water
- 2T tapioca flour / 3T cornstarch
Recipe can be halved but as written it uses complete standard-sized tins of ingredients. Proportions aren't exact; a 5.5oz can (dr. wt.) of water chestnuts is fine, and a whole egg for a half batch is OK, too.
Tofu: through experimentation, ideally you'll use 2/3 regular tofu mashed and 1/3 firm silken chopped finely. Use neither extra firm nor soft silken tofu for this recipe.
Water chestnuts: to prepare, drain, slice (you should get 3-4 slices per), place in boiling water with a few drops of vinegar for about 2 minute, drain and cool. This removes the tin flavour and crisps them up, removing the chalky starchiness.
Enoki: also called "Golden Mushroms" in tins, very thin and tiny caps. Fresh are fine. If using tinned mushrooms, remove the dark, woody bottom bits where stalks are joined.
Bean curd skin: a.k.a. "bean curd sheet", a.k.a. "yuba" in Japanese markets. Normally available frozen or dry-packaged. VERY fragile, especially the completely dried type which must be soaked. The not-quite-dry kind (not frozen) is best. All forms should be soaked for a couple minutes until pale in colour. They remain very fragile.
Purple laver: comes in rectangular sheets or circular "pies". Either one is OK but the thick "pies" have to be wet briefly to soften. 10 seconds under water, wring and unfold quickly
Egg: substitutes can be commercial preparations. I use a flax seed substitute. First mix seeds 1:1 with water and run that mixture in a food processor for a couple minutes. Once it's gelatinous, add another equal measure of water and blend again. Repeat once more for a final ratio of 3:1 water:seed. Don't just add all the water at once or the seeds will never get broken and you'll just have water with flax seeds in it. It's better than real eggs for keeping baked goods moist. I usually substitute one of three or more eggs with this when baking non-vegan. Downside: the goo can't be separated from the seed hulls so this can't be used in light-coloured items.
Prep first: slice/boil water chestnuts, prepare egg substitute (if desired), rehydrate tofu skin, moisten laver, remove enoki bottoms and woody bits.
Mix half the cornstarch/tapioca flour and water well and set aside.
Mash/chop up the tofu, mince the water chestnuts and coarsely chop the enoki. Place all in large mixing bowl. Add the remaining cornstarch/tapioca flour and egg (or egg substitute) and mix together well, seasoning with salt and pepper. If using a non-gum egg substitute like flax, add an extra tablespoon of starch/flour.
Spread a bean curd skin out on your work surface and place the laver on top, abutting one end.
Cover the top half of the laver with half the filling (if making a full recipe). Fold the beancurd and laver up and over the filling, spreading and pressing to make the package even. Brush the insides of the bean curd skin with the starch and water mix, then fold over the left side inwards, then the right. Ideally you're making a sort of origami-style envelope. Brush more starch and water over the non-coated sides and roll the center over the remaining skin until you have a nice, neat package. Lift the flap and get some more flour and water paste in there.
Repeat for the second one if you're making a full batch.
Steam each over high for 30 minutes in a domed wok. Whether or not you have a wok and steamer rack or basket, make sur not to let the water touch the bottom of the "fish" or it'll fall apart.
The "fish" can be served immediately or pan-fried to make it crispy. Cut at 45° on a diagonal for presentation.
Serving suggestions include plain sauces (soy-ginger-orange with scallions is nice), or more complex sauces like a Hunan brown sauce with julienned veggies can be poured over the presentation for a centerpiece meal.
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