Inspiration for this sushi came from a book called the Complete Book of Sushi which I am currently thumbing through. The book is an excellent guide to all the different kinds of sushi you can make and this type is known as Inari-zushi or tofu pouch sushi. I was drawn to this type of sushi since it was pretty unusual as it used couscous compared to the usual rice filling which is so much heavier.
To cook this sushi, first you need to prepare the tofu pouch and season it or else it has no taste. You can use abura-age, the Japanese deep fried tofu that comes in square or rectangle pieces. I have adapted the recipe to suit the vegan tastes and used a vegetarian stock instead of the dashi and omitted the sake to be added in. For the couscous filling, vegetarian stock was used to soak it that was topped only with chopped chives and a shimeji mushroom cap. As I was the only one sampling this, it was a bit hard to trick myself to thinking it is not vegan. However, I love the flavours of the seasoned inari (unlike the tasteless ones in restaurants) and the couscous filling was light and tasty.
Seasoned Tofu Pouches (Makes 10 pieces)
5 pieces of 2 x 4 inch thin deep fried tofu (abura-age)
250 ml number one dashi stock or vegetarian stock
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 teaspoons sake (omit if vegan)
2 tablespoons Japanese sauce
Put the abura-age into a saucepan of boiling water and boil to remove the excess oil, about two minutes. Drain and gently squeeze out the water. Be careful when you squeeze to ensure no damage to the pouches.
In a saucepan, combine the dashi/stock, suagr, sake and soya sauce. Add the drained abura-age. Poke a few holes in a sheet of foil and shape it to fit inside a saucepan so it rests on top of the liquid. The drop lid allows the steam to escape but keeps the tofu submerged while cooking. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for fifteen minutes. Remove from heat and cool in liquid.
Drain, squeezing out excess liquid. Gently roll over each piece of tofu with a rolling pin to loosen the center. Cut each piece in half and gently ease open the cut end of the piece with your fingers to form a pouch. They can now be filled with sushi rice or couscous.
Couscous Inari (Makes 4 pouches)
250 ml warm water
1 chicken boullion cube (replace water and cube with 250ml vegetarian stock if vegan)
1 cup/185g couscous
4 shitake mushrooms, stemmed (I used the shimeji mushroom caps instead)
1 tablespoon Japanese sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
2 tablespoons water
4 seasoned tofu/inari pouches
4 garlic chives for tying and 4 garlic chives, finely chopped
4 nori strips
4 teaspoons tobiko (omit if vegan)
In a small saucepan, bring the water to a simmer and add the bouillion cube. Stir to dissolve cube. Bring to a boil. (If using vegetarian stock, bring it to boil in a saucepan) Add the stock over the couscous in a bowl, stirring with a fork. Cover and set aside for five minutes. Fluff with a fork.
In a saucepan, combine mushrooms, soy sauce, mirin and water. Bring to a simmer and cook for five minutes. Open inari from the cut side and use a teaspoon to fill it with couscous. Wrap a garlic chive around each inari and secure with a nori strip. Sprinkle chopped chives and tobiko(if using) on top of each inari, Remove mushrooms from liquid and squeeze to remove excess liquid and arrange on top of coucous.
Monkey Head Mushrooms and Sauteed Spinach
For the second dish, I decided to get vegetarian inspiration from the book New Chinese Cuisine by Tung Lok Group who runs Lingzhi, a restaurant in Singapore that serves some wonderful dishes. I love the way they explained how the vegetarian cuisine grew in China when farmers forayed for food in the forests during the famine. This has led to them inventing dishes from various mushrooms and fungis they have found.
In this dish, I use this highly unusual mushroom called monkey head or bear's head. It has been recently introduced to Malaysia but you don't see many places serving it. It looks like a small cauliflower with a mild seafood taste. The mushroom is said to be good to stimulate blood circulation and prevent cancer. Splashie Boy said this dish didn't taste like mushrooms and was quite unusual. I liked the mushrooms and felt it had a bit of a nutty taste to it.
Monkey Head Mushrooms with Sauteed Spinach (Serves 2)
150g monkey head mushrooms
10g shredded ginger
4 tsp vegetarian stock
salt to taste
2 tsp vegetarian oyster sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp potato flour
Deep fry the mushrooms until crispy. Drain the excess oil by putting it on top of absorbent paper. Fry the shredded ginger in sesame oil until fragrant. Mix the seasoning ingredients with the vegetarian stock and bring to the boil. Add the mushrooms and toss well. Saute the spinach in 1 tbsp of oil and sprinkle salt to taste. Stack the spinach in a ring mould topped with the deep fried mushrooms and the ginger garnish.
Deep-fried Shitake Mushroom
Another mushroom dish from New Chinese Cuisine by Tung Lok and this one fooled Splashie Boy totally. He thought it was sliced chicken tossed in a soya sauce and was amazed when I told him it was just mushrooms. I also liked the taste of this dish and it was pretty simple to make too. In the original recipe, they saute shredded snow peas and bean sprouts but I used asparagus instead. Integral to these two mushroom dishes is the vegetarian stock which is full of flavour and made from boiling bean sprouts, chopped carrot, red dates, tangerine peel, luo han guo and white peppercorns.
Deep-fried Shitake Mushroom (Serves 2)
200g dried chinese mushrooms, soaked and cut into strips
Potato flour for dusting
125 ml vegetarian stock
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp light soya sauce
1 tsp dark soya sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp cornflour paste
Dust the mushroom strips with potato flour and deep fry them until crispy and golden brown in colour. Remove and drain excess oil. Combine the vegetarian stock and seasoning ingredients in a wok and bring to a boil. Toss the deep fried mushrooms in sauce until it is well coated. Place on top of sauteed asparagus spears.
Aloe Vera Cubes with Passion Fruit
For dessert, we had something organically grown: aloe vera cubes from the garden and some organic local passion fruit I found. The recipe is actually from a lady who has an organic farm at Tanarimba, Janda Baik. You can add any fruit you wish but I added passion fruit which came from their gardens. By the way, the Tanarimba place is simply fantastic, although I have not been there, I have seen the pictures and it is so impressive.
We found this dessert to be very refreshing but slightly tart because of the passion fruit. Just be a bit careful when you cut the aloe vera as it gets quite sticky and can leave stains if not washed off properly.
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Tagged with: IMBB # 19 + Vegan