“A couple of years ago i never would’ve guessed I’d be sat in Bethnal Green eating deep fried beancurd” said Tom on Tuesday night, happily shovelling a pork-stuffed beancurd parcel into his mouth. Tie flung over his shoulder to avoid the soy drips.
And as I sit here eating leftover gochujang-rice stuffed parcels in front of Crufts, I’m starting to agree that things have got a bit weird. Currently, my cooking seems to revolve around the oddest ingredient I can get my hands on. Often Chinese. And currently deep-fried beancurd sheets.
I decided it’d be useful to learn something more about tofu. And the best way to learn is to do.
My first experience of tofu was in the covered market at university where there was a little stand that did salad boxes. You started off by picking a couple of base salad - lentils and herbs, roasted vegetables, green leaves, bulgur wheat…delicious things. And then you chose a sauce, and then some protein - lovely grilled chicken, or smoked mackerel…or a flaccid, anaemic-looking block of sweaty cold tofu. Gross! Enough to put me off for a while. I just didn’t get it.
But then I started reading more about Chinese food, and the importance of textures. I started following actual recipes which used tofu, and which used it well. Mapo tofu is my current favourite-cheap and delicious and comforting, with these squidgy soft squares of chilli-flavoured tofu.
These beancurd sheets are tofu-but in a different guise. They’re soybean sheets which have been flavoured with soy and Mirin - sweet rice wine, and then cut into little pockets, ready for stuffing. I did some research and saw that the traditional use for the deep fried beancurd sheets are inari sushi, which involves boiling the beancurd sheets and stuffing them with rice.
But I figured I could find something more exciting than plain old rice. So for my first experiment I set out to use stuff it with pork mince instead. But couldn’t find any on my walk home. So Tom had the cunning idea of squeezing the meat out of sausages which makes the filling denser (in a good way) and delicious! I added some other bits and bobs I found in the fridge, and - though I don’t want to blow my own trumpet - they were frigging delicious!
Cooking them in the oven (rather than boiling them) was definitely a good plan. Boiling the packets in water would’ve soaked away some of the soy-Mirin sauce the beancurd pockets were soaked in. And cooking them turned the beancurd sheets into buttery, delicious, squidgy-soft pockets of joy.
I’ve put the recipe below. And also the recipe for the gochujang-rice stuffed bean curd parcels I made tonight because….well, because I had some leftover sushi rice in the fridge, and some leftover bean curd pockets too.
If I was only going to make one of the two recipes, I’d definitely go for the pork ones. But these deep fried beancurd sheets are pretty much designed for experimentation-and could be stuffed with all sorts for the tastiest dim sum.
Ifyou have any ideas, or have cooked with these before, please do let me know in the comments section at the bottom…I want to know more!!
Pork-stuffed deep fried beancurd sheets
5 deep fried beancurd sheets (there were 10 in the pack)
3 normal pork sausages
2 tablespoons of kimchi, finely chopped
4 mushrooms, finely chopped
1.5 teaspoons of chilli bean sauce
Handful of wilted spinach (or a few defrosted blocks)
1 teaspoon of light soy sauce
Squeeze the sausages out if their skins. Out them in a mixing bowl, and stir in the other ingredients.
Stuff the mixture into the deep-fried beancurd packets. Put them on a roasting tray, and put them in a preheated oven at 180c for 20minutes. Check they’re cooked through, and serve with a dipping pot of soy
If, dear readers, I’m being totally honest with you, then I should reveal that I also put the remaining 5 sausages on the roasting tray, so when the sausages cooked, they released all that lovely sausage fat, and made the deep-fried beancurd sheets even more buttery and oily and naughtily delicious! No good for my physical well being. Excellent for my mental well being.
Gochujang rice-stuffed deep fried beancurd sheets
5 deep fried beancurd sheets (remaining 5 in the pack of 10!)
250g pre-cooked sushi rice
1 teaspoon gochujang chilli paste
1/2 teaspoon doenjang paste
1 egg yolk
Mix the go gochujang and doenjang with the rice and egg yolk. Stuff the deep fried bean curd sheets and put in a pre-heated oven for 180c for 15 minutes.
Serve with a dipping pot of light soy.