Did you know it’s currently National Vegetarian Week? If ya didn’t, now ya do, so go out there and eat a carrot or ten!
I do love myself a beautiful piece of rare meat now and again, but I find that I cook vegetarian more often than not even though I’m not consciously planning it. I guess it may have to do with the fact that I don’t really know what I’ll be cooking on any given week and therefore rarely buy meat or fish on my weekend shopping trips and prefer to buy it the day of when I figure out what’s for dinner. Add that to the fact that I’m usually running behind, and it leads to me making our meals out of whatever we have on hand, which is always vegetables and some sort of protein that keeps well for longer periods than fresh meat, like tofu, cheese or beans.
This is exactly what happened to me the other night. Standing in front of the fridge, wondering not only what to make but what I felt like eating. It’s amazing how difficult it is to decide sometimes. Then I spied the eggroll wrappers and tofu and it came to me like….um…well just insert whatever vision-esque dream sequence you might be thinking of because I’m drawing a blank. Let’s just say it came to me. Period. Tofu egg rolls!
I love, love, LOVE me an egg roll. They’re golden brown and crispy and filled with seasoned bits of veggies and meat or some other savory filling and are the perfect finger food. Unfortunately, as with many of my favorite crunchy foods, they are deep fried but I’ve been experimenting with baking them for about two years and I’m pretty happy with the results.
The filling is a mixture of carrots, cabbage, onion, garlic, ginger, hoison sauce, sambal oelek, a touch of shoyu (soy sauce), mirin (sweetened sake) and extra firm tofu which has been compressed with paper towels and a weight for an hour to draw the extra liquid out. If you don’t have time to do the last step, just add a teaspoon or so of cornstarch to the mixture when you’re almost finished sauteing it to tighten it up. I season my filing extra well so the egg rolls can be eaten on their own, but you can use less if you like.
When the filling cools, it’s easy to simply put about 3 heaping teaspoons of it in a wrapper and roll it up, sealing the ends with water. I spray my egg rolls with cooking spray and bake them in a hot oven so they get as crispy as possible. Now I know they aren’t going to be as crunchy and sinful as their deep fried counterparts, but they are a pretty good substitute, plus you get the added bonus of being allowed to eat more of them and not feel guilty!
Baked Tofu Egg Rolls1 tsp vegetable oil 1tsp toasted sesame oil 1 large carrot, cut into small dice 1/2 medium onion, cut into small dice 1/4 head of cabbage, cut into small dice 3 cloves garlic, minced 1-inch knob of ginger, grated (or 2 tsp of minced ginger from a jar) 6 ounces of extra firm tofu, crumbled (just mash it with your fingers) 1 TBS hoison sauce 2 tsp soy sauce 1 tsp sambal oelek 2 tsp mirin 2 tsp cornstarch 8 to 10 egg roll wrappers (I used Nasoya brand) Preheat oven to 425 Heat the vegetable oil and sesame oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat and add the carrot and onion and saute until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the cabbage, garlic and ginger and saute another 2 minutes or so, until most of the water from the vegetables has been released and evaporated (you do NOT want a watery mixture!). Add the rest of the ingredients except for the cornstarch and mix well; then add the cornstarch and stir until the mixture thickens a bit. Set aside to cool. Take about 3 heaping teaspoons of the mixture and place in the middle of the wrapper. Roll the corner closest to you over the filling, then grab the right corner, fold it under, then do the same with the left, then roll it over itself, moistening the top corner before folding it all the way over so it will seal tightly and securely. Place on a cooling rack placed over a baking sheet. Repeat with the rest, then spray each egg roll with cooking spray or brush with butter or olive oil on all sides. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, checking to see if they are browning. When they do, take a pair of tongs and flip each other to brown the other side, which should take an additional 10 minutes. Cool slightly (the filling is as hot as molten lava straight out of the oven!) and enjoy with your favorite dipping sauce, or without!