Aburage whiz offers recipes
IT'S TIME to pay another visit to Melanie Okazaki. She is the creative soul who came up with some stuffed aburage recipes in answer to a request for a low-carbohydrate, low-sugar replacement for cone sushi.
A variation on one of her recipes -- a tuna and tofu filling in a cone-sushi wrapper -- was printed here a few weeks back with the promise that we'd return to explore some of Okazaki's other ideas.
"I like to use aburage stuffed with different things and these are my favorites," she wrote.
She offers recipes for aburage stuffed with mochi -- and you have to give her originality points here -- as well as a version stuffed with ground turkey or pork mixed with Chinese fishcake and lots of vegetables.
We begin with the mochi. Note that this recipe uses dry, not fresh, mochi -- the pieces are like blocks of hard plastic. The Tokyo Mochi brand that Okazaki prefers can be found at Times Supermarket, in the Asian foods aisle. Other brands can be found in Japanese markets, although the sizes may vary.
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into matchstick-size pieces
1 8-ounce can water chestnuts, roughly chopped
1 6.5-ounce package tempura kamaboko, diced (or same amount diced cooked chicken or shrimp)
6 large shiitake mushrooms, soaked, drained and diced
20 aburage rectangles (Aloha Tofu brand preferred)
10 pieces dry mochi (Tokyo Mochi brand preferred), cut in half
1/2 cup shiitake water (from soaking mushrooms)
1 16-ounce can low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon mirin
1-1/2 tablespoons Splenda
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon dashi-no-moto or hondashi
Combine carrots, water chestnuts, kamaboko and shiitake.
Heat a pot of water and boil aburage 4 minutes to remove some excess oil.
Rinse and carefully squeeze out water. Slit each aburage on one side. Stuff with one piece mochi and vegetable mixture. Close aburage with toothpick.
Combine sauce ingredients in large pot. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low simmer. Place stuffed aburage, toothpick side up, into pot. Keep heat as low as possible. Simmer 30 minutes, or until mochi is soft. Serve with karashi (Japanese-style mustard). Makes 20.
Approximate nutritional analysis, per piece (not including mustard): 130 calories, 4 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 270 mg sodium, 18 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 7 g protein.
FOR THOSE who need a primer: Aburage is fried bean curd, a fluffy, airy rectangle that must be boiled before using. It is cut in pieces for Japanese soups and stews, or may be slit open and stuffed. The latter is Okazaki's approach.
Our aburage adventure began when a reader asked for some local-style recipes she could make for her brother, who has diabetes. A diabetic diet requires that you go easy on sugar, but also that carb intake be moderated.
Both these recipes are low in sugar, but this second one does better in terms of carbs and offers a good balance of veggies to meat in the filling. The previous recipe, because of the mochi, doesn't do as well on the carb count.
It offers an intriguing blend of textures and flavors, though, for those on a more standard diet. You can replace the Splenda with regular sugar, although you'll probably need more than the 1-1/2 tablespoons of Splenda that the recipe uses. Taste as you go.
The following recipe takes a more familiar approach, with ground meat forming the bulk of the filling. The fishcake, though, lightens up and jazzes up the dish.
Chinese fishcake is sold raw, a liver-like gray mass, in the seafood section of Asian markets and some regular grocery stores. Do not mistake it for kamaboko, or Japanese fishcake, which is fully cooked.
2 2-ounce packages aburage rectangles (8 per pack, Aloha Tofu brand preferred)
1 pound ground turkey or ground pork
1/2 pound Chinese fish cake
1 9-ounce package chop suey vegetable mix, finely chopped
1/2 bunch green onions, minced
1 8-ounce can water chestnuts, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
To make filling: Combine turkey, fish cake and egg. Mix well. Add chop suey mix, green onions and water chestnuts. Mix well. Add salt and pepper.
Heat a pot of water and boil aburage 4 minutes to remove excess oil. Rinse aburage and carefully squeeze out water. Slit each aburage on one side. Fill with stuffing.
Gently steam 30 to 45 minutes, until cooked through. Serve with dipping sauce such as ponzu, shoyu/mustard or sweet chili sauce. Makes 16.
Approximate nutritional analysis, per piece (not including dipping sauce or salt to taste): 120 calories, 6 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 40 mg cholesterol, 160 mg sodium, 5 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 11 g protein.
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