We just made this last night and I HAD to post about them today! As you may have noticed, I normally lag a bit from when I make something and when I post about it. Not today. These got two enthusiastic thumbs up from the official taste-tester.
Last weekend we were on the search for vegetarian, gluten free oyster sauce for the Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps I posted about yesterday and so we made a trip to the big international market in town. I had a couple of key things on my list and the bean curd sheets for this recipe were one of them. Unfortunately they didn’t have them refrigerated or frozen; we asked and looked, multiple times. They only had them dried and they were already crumbled up pretty good. Those would be good for adding to other dishes but I knew I needed big clean sheets to make this dish. So we went to another Asian market down the road. We looked and looked and I was about to give up when we finally found them, next to the frozen ant eggs and thousand-year old eggs. (There were an awful lot of boxes of thousand-year old eggs – they were quite good at predicting how many to prepare, anticipating our future, ancient egg needs!)
So I grabbed two packages, not knowing the condition of the wrappers nor how many I needed exactly or how many were inside the package. When we got home I placed them back in the freezer and then read – and reread – Susan’s recipe over at Fat Free Vegan. (You should also read the original source of the recipe at use real butter.) Then yesterday, I took the wrappers out of the freezer and put them in the refrigerator. And I reread the recipe again.
I was a little intimidated by these simple bean curd sheets. My husband had come in from the garage as I was beginning to pull out the ingredients and asked me if I needed any help. I think he could tell by the look on my face that I wasn’t too sure about what I was beginning. And once I said I was fine, he happily escaped back to the garage and his refinishing project to let me figure this out on my own. He knows it is usually better that way. But it is always nice of him to ask.
So I told myself, how different is it from making spring rolls? Not very different, really. Same basic methods, just slightly different materials. And I can handle spring roll wrappers just fine. So, I opened the package of bean curd sheets. To my surprise, they unfolded into large circles, almost two feet in diameter. Wow. I needed to clear off some more counter space to work with these babies. I had anticipated that they would look more like Susan’s – large rectangles. But they weren’t. So I cut the circles in half, planning to use a full circle for each roll. The package had five and a half circles of tofu in it. So I had plenty. too much, in fact, and not enough filling to fill them all, so I made a small roll that consisted entirely of the bean curd sheets, no filling. (It was good too.)
The sheets are a bit awkward to work with but I was successful. No big mishaps. The hardest part was rolling and trying to keep them tight while not tearing the sheets. Using two sheets per roll helped with that issue as any errors with the first roll were covered up by the second sheet. If you read Susan’s post, she mentions that there are two types of sheets, one being thicker than the other. I think I had the thinner variety.
As is typical for me, I pretty much followed the original recipe to the letter (for the first time at least) and they came out wonderful! They weren’t the prettiest, not as pretty and tight as Susan’s but they tasted SO GOOD! And practice makes perfect, right? Luckily I have another package of sheets in the freezer!
The only change I made was to use fresh shiitake mushrooms instead of dried. But that isn’t much of a change. We made Susan’s five spice sauce to go along with them and I served them up with some stir-fried bok-choy.
My husband, the vegetarian of 14 years, said they reminded him of chicken. I had some chicken last week and I can’t say that the taste reminds me of chicken, but more that the texture does. Maybe it was the umami flavor of the shititake that he was tasting. A lot of people think shiitake taste ‘meaty’ anyway. Regardless, they were great, chicken flavor or not. It’s funny though now, as I look back at the photo above, they almost look like they have a fried chicken-like skin in the picture.
We liked the sauce but I actually preferred them without the five spice sauce. I liked the sweet soy sauce flavor already included in the rolls and the filling and I felt like the two were competing when I dipped it in the added sauce. I think next time I might add some other ingredients to the filling. Cabbage? Green onions?
Have you ever used bean curd sheets before? If you’ve made sushi rolls or spring rolls, you can make these.
Thanks to Fat Free Vegan Kitchen and use real butter for the inspiration and instructions!