Tofu "Meatballs" with Maple Teriyaki Glaze

above photos: Tofu and Mushroom "Meatballs" in a Maple Teriyaki Glaze, with rice, roasted chilies, and a salad of leaf lettuces and marinated broccoli

As with many tofu preparations it's essential to "press' and drain the tofu prior to adding it to the recipe. Luckily, the process couldn't be simpler: remove one 14-oz. block of firm or extra firm tofu from its container and wrap in a thick paper towel or clean dish towel. Place on a cutting board or other surface you don't mind getting damp. Put a salad plate on top of the wrapped tofu and then, on top of the plate, something to weight it down - a quart jar of pasta sauce, a heavy bowl filled with dried beans etc. After 30 minutes unwrap the tofu and pat it dry. Now you're ready to proceed.

In a skillet heat 2 T. vegetable oil over medium heat. Add 1 small onion (finely diced) and cook for a few minutes until it begins to soften. Adding a pinch of salt will aid in the process. Stir in 2 cups of sliced mushrooms (plain old button white 'shrooms are fine), a large dash of red pepper flakes and three cloves of chopped garlic. Stir until the mushrooms begin to release their liquid and darken. Transfer the contents of the skillet to a food processor. Crumble in as well the pressed tofu, 1 large free-running hen's egg and about 1/2 t. salt. Pulse briefly. Now add 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs and pulse again. Transfer everything to a large mixing bowl and season with black pepper. Stir in just a teaspoon of soy sauce or tamari. If the mixture is too wet add a few more breadcrumbs and/or let it rest in the fridge for an hour.

Sprinkle 3/4 cup all-purpose flour on a large plate. Wet your hands and roll the tofu mixture in to golf-ball sized portions. As you create the "meatballs" it helps to store them on a floured baking sheet.

Heat 2 T. vegetable oil in a large non-stick skillet. When the oil is hot - keep the flame at medium - add some of the meatballs in a single layer. Brown on all sides and then remove from skillet. Repeat with the final batch.

When all of the tofu balls have been fried, reduce the heat to low and, without bothering to wipe out the skillet, pour in 1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari, 3 T. maple syrup and 2 T. dry sherry or rice wine or sake. Stir to combine well and just allow to begin to simmer. Now, in a small bowl, mix 2 T. water with 1 t. cornstarch and pour into skillet. Carefully return the tofu meatballs to the pan and toss gently with the sauce. Cover the skillet until the meatballs are heated through and have absorbed some of the teriyaki sauce. Remember to keep the flame low.

Serve hot, warm or at room temperature, as an entree with rice or skewered on toothpicks as a retro-style cocktail appetizer.


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