When I knew my vegan friend was coming for dinner, I started a LOT of research googling recipe after recipe after recipe for something that would inspire me.
I was after something to make to go alongside my favourite prawn balls and was hoping for inspiration to create something new.
But eventually I came across this great recipe and pretty much just made it exactly as the original.
The original is HERE and I simplified it (to my mind anyway) slightly - and my go at making it you can find HERE.
Vegan tofu + shiitake mushroom balls with a sort of ginger sauce and sesame seeds.
They were very light with the lovely tofu but a bit crumbly - they became firmer on cooling and would be great served as a main with rice and vegetables.
We also had a sweet chilli sauce and a cucumber dipping sauce to accompany the prawn and tofu balls.
Super-simple with a food processor (or blender).
I only put these onto toothpick skewers to match the look of the prawn balls but actually these were a little crumbly so I'd just heap them in a yummy pile next time and pour the sauce and seeds over!
OK, let's get started ... pre-heat the oven to 375F / 190C / Gas 5.
The original recipe said to use baking paper brushed with oil on a baking tray ... which would probably be ideal, but I didn't have any greaseproof paper so just added a little oil to my baking tray and wiped it over with a piece of kitchen towel (and it worked fine).
The ingredients for the tofu balls themselves
About 200g firm tofu (I've had so much trouble with tofu over the years and then recently realised it was really down to me not buying the right sort - you do need the firm one!), drained and cut into a few pieces
A big handful of shiitake mushrooms - about 100g or a little more - and if you can't get shiitake then just use whatever mushrooms you have, stems removed and roughly chopped
200g of panko breadcrumbs (I found these easily at the supermarket - I'm sure you could use dry bread to make breadcrumbs in the food processor and then perhaps toast quickly in a dry pan and it would work well)
1 small, or half a large white onion, peeled and chopped into a few pieces
I garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tablespoons soy or almond milk
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
For the ginger sauce
I couldn't work out how to convert US cups very easily, so I just used a small cup and followed the measurements - I think as long as you're consistent it'll be fine (and it was, it was good).
1/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons rice vinegar (I didn't have any so used 1 tablespoon of white malt vinegar - I used less as it'll have a stronger flavour and taste than rice vinegar)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
Some sesame seeds, toasted quickly in a dry pan (watch it all the time, they burn easily!)
Sliced spring onions
Put the tofu, mushrooms, breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, milk and soy sauce in the food processor and pulse until completely mixed and crumbly - keep scraping the mixture down into the bowl as needed.
(It was so good I did eat some - I mean 'taste' - at this stage!).
Roll into about 20 balls and put onto the baking sheet.
I was worried that it was too crumbly to make balls but actually I just took a small spoonful and made it into a ball and it was easy!
Brush with oil (I think I forgot to do this so don't worry too much!).
Pop in the oven and bake for about half an hour, turning half way through - carefully! I started turning mine too soon and they needed a little longer to be firm enough to turn so just see what works for you and your oven.
When cooked, remove and either serve straight away with the ginger sauce and topped with the sesame seeds - this would be a lovely dinner with rice and some stir fried vegetables - or you can re-heat later.
I have to admit to eating two or three as soon as they were cool enough - I really like these!
While they're baking, make the ginger sauce if you're eating them immediately.
Stir the water and cornstarch together to mix well and put into a small saucepan with the vinegar, sugar, sesame oil and ginger and bring slowly to a low simmer. Simmer for a minute or so, stirring all the time, until the sauce has thickened.
When ready to serve, pour the sauce over the tofu balls and top with the sesame seeds and sliced spring onions.
So good - hope you like them!