So I had been wanting to try to make a vegetarian fish for over a decade. I kept procrastinating because of the level of effort and lack of necessary ingredients. This weekend I had neither excuse and embarked upon a fun adventure. We had just visited Chinatown the weekend before and stocked up, and Deniz was willing to help me with the labor. And the results turned out great. Even Deniz said it was worth the effort. The flavors are mild, so we’ll have to keep testing to see if we can bring a more sea flavor, but the look and texture are great. Below is a recipe from Wei-Chuan’s Vegetarian Cooking cookbook that we modified and used:
- 2 fresh or frozen bean curd skins (if frozen, defrost)
- 2 nori sheets
- 6 oz dried bean curd skin, broken into small pieces
- 8 oz can enoki, minced
- 4 oz can water chestnuts, chopped (Optional. This will give the fish a crunch, which will make the texture different from real fish, but nice in a different way)
- 1 block firm tofu, drained, crumbled, and as much water squeezed out of it, as possible
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 T nori komi (seaweed sesame seed) furikake
- 1 T sea salt
- 1 t pepper
- 1 T flour
- 1 T water
Prepare the ingredients as described in the Ingredients list above.
Rehydrate the dried bean curd skin by soaking in boiling water for 1 hour. Drain and chop into smaller pieces, approximately 1 square inch in size
Mix the Filling ingredients (including the rehydrated bean curd skin and squeezed tofu) together in a large bowl until well blended. Mix the Paste in a small bowl.
Place the fresh or defrosted bean curd skin on a large cutting board. Place the nori on top of it and cut it into the shape of a fish. Place the mixed Filling on top of the nori. Cut excess bean curd skin away as needed to fold the skin over without having to wrap it around the back. Wrap the remaining bean curd skin around the fish like a Christmas present. Seal tightly with the Paste.
Steam the fish for 30 minutes. Allow to cool. Make diagonal slashes at 1 cm intervals halfway into the fish.
Deep fry the fish until golden brown (pan frying it in a lot of oil and flipping it works too, that’s what we did. just be careful about splattering hot oil).