Saturday, August 16, 2008

anarchy in the kitchen

The time had come. For days I’d found myself drawn back to the recipe. Exactly 30 minutes before I was meant to leave the house to head out into the dark night for a farewell party – I’d decided it was time to make some bombs.

Cindy and Michaels soy bombs that is.

Of course when my half hour was up, the last batch still frying, I began to understand how the little morsels of tofu got their name. It sure looked like an incendiary device had gone off in the kitchen – oils platters and flour explosions as far as the eye could see.

Note too self: Next time I am going to cook something for a party, especially anything involving plumes of white flour, do not wear a black jumper intended for the evening’s event.

So as I lazed about in that hour before I hit the kitchen, the (non-psychotic) voice in my head kept whispering “time to make the bombs”. I’d read the recipe heaps of times, got put off by the shallow frying but kind of liked the idea of the squeaky clean ‘goodness’ of a vegan finger food, dirtied up with a little dip in sizzling oil. After all, what is a party without a bit of fried food?

I had the vital ingredient – a 500 gm block of firm tofu but 90% of the rest of the recipe would end up being ad libbed in typical Food Nazi style. Not because I thought it needed improving, just the usual improvising with what was in the cupboards. However I personally think that recommended 3 tablespoons of soy sauce is way over the top (teaspoons may be closer to my sodium tolerance) and substituted it for a pinch or two of sea salt. Also with such quick frying I opted for cooked onion rather than raw. I also couldn’t’ resist adding some garlic.

Soy bombs a go-go

1 small onion, finely chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
500g firm tofu – squeeze the water out if necessary, then crumble into small pieces
2 slices of bread, crusts removed, turned into crumbs in a food processor
(or 1/2 cup of ordinary crumbs or suitable gluten-free alternative)
1 tablespoon each of: peanut butter, nut paste (I used ABC spread) and tahini (or 3 tabs of any kind of seed or nut ‘butter’)
1 tsp of sea salt (or 1- 2 tsp tamari)
A generous handful of fresh parsley, or green herb of your liking, finely chopped
Approx 1/2 cup cornflour
Vegetable oil for sautéing and shallow frying (I used about 1/2 cup of raw sesame oil)

Finely chop the onion and sauté in a little oil, add garlic and cook on low-medium heat til transparent.

Crumble the tofu into a large bowl. Add the onion/garlic, breadcrumbs, nut butters, parsley and salt. The only way I could figure to combine the gluggy tahini etc with the other ingredients was to use my hands. Roll your sleeves up and work the mixture til everything is evenly combined. You are going to get your hands dirty anyway because once this is done it is time to roll into balls. Shape about a dessertspoon of mixture with your hands. A little gentle pressure is all you need for them to stick together. I was aiming for falafel sized balls, slightly squashed down to make them easier to fry. Once you are happy with the shape of your balls, put the cornflour on a plate and lightly coat each one. I use cornflour, not just because it is gluten-free but is makes things crispier than ordinary wheat flour.

Pour about 2 cm of oil into a fry pan or wok, over a high heat. When a little drop of the mixture sizzles, it should be hot enough. Now start frying the balls in batches, being careful to not overcrowd the pan. Have some kitchen paper at the ready to drain them once they are done. A minute or 2 each side is all that is needed.

I’m with Cindy when on first tasting the bombs, she uttered:

“Holy mother of tofu! These are incredible”

I wouldn’t describe them as meaty tasting in any way. Mine were kind of cheesy and morish.

When finally finished and changed my clothes, I piled a couple of layers of balls into a bamboo steamer – one of my favourite ways to transport food to parties. Fortunately I found the remains of a bottle of sweet chili sauce for dipping.

I was slightly trepidatious as to what a gathering of meat eaters would make of them, especially as they would be served cold.

First cab off the rank was a couple of globe trotting, 21 year olds who eyed them off the moment the lid was removed and asked what they were made from. “You tell me”, I said. A mouthful later the first exclaimed “Tofu” and I didn’t know whether he’d spit it out or swallow. Even I was a little surprised when they turned into a hit for young and (not so) old.

They did a great job at sopping up the Cosmopolitans that flowed a little too freely.

Can’t wait to play with this recipe again. However next time I reckon they’d be better paired with a chaste glass of beer or dry white wine.

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Blogger Cindy said...

I agree that these are quite salty, and eerily cheesy for a vegan dish - I think it's all down to the peanut butter.

Most of all I'm very happy that you'n'the crew gobbled these down with such relish. I hoped they'd pass the tween'n'teen test but have been unable to trial it myself!

5:29 pm  
Blogger Johanna said...

soy bombs and anarchy sound like a good combo - I think the PPK crew like their soy sauce - I was horrified at the amount used in their chickpea cutlets recently but it seemed to taste fine in the end product - am still keen to try these little morsels!

1:23 pm  

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