Sunday, January 04, 2009

'fu balls

Last night I made Mollie Katzen's tofu nut balls, with the idea of using them to make a vegetarian version of Italian Wedding Soup, which usually has little meatballs in it, along with escarole, garlic, broth, and often tiny pasta or rice. And, huh, Wikipedia says Italian Wedding Soup is especially popular in Pittsburgh, so no wonder I have it in my taste memory.

I used to make the 'fu balls more often, when I was in graduate school, and my kids were little. I actually have both editions of the Katzen cookbook the recipe's in, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest; it came out in 1982 and 1995. Mollie had this caveat in the older edition: do not use walnuts as the nuts, unless you like purple (possibly bitter) food - we like purple food, so I almost always used walnuts back in the day, and I usually covered the 'fu balls with a mushroom sauce, and baked them. The kids ate them with their fingers, the grownups ate them with tabasco sauce, and everyone was happy.

Last night, I made them with ground almonds, as the newer edition - sans caveat - directs - and they look just like turkey meatballs to me.

The recipe's real simple, and it's not just vegetarian, it's vegan (as long as the bread crumbs have no dairy):
1/2 cup raw brown rice (Mollie says use short grain, which is a good idea - you want the rice soft and mushy - but I just used what I had which was long)
2 TBLS soy sauce
1/2 pound firm tofu, mashed
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs (like Panko)

Cook the rice in one cup of water until it is really soft - even mushy, as Mollie says - 35 - 45 minutes

Combine 3/4 of the rice, the soy sauce, and half the tofu in a food processor and blend to a paste. Combine the remaining rice, tofu, and almonds in a bowl, add the paste, and mix well.

Taste to see if it needs salt. Heat the oven to 350 °. Lightly oil (or spray with cooking spray) a baking sheet, and form the mixture into about 36 little balls. Bake for about 30 minutes until they are lsightly browned.

I guess, and Mollie says, that you could also fry the balls in a pan, but I have never tried this.

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