A few years ago in Kyoto I had an amazing vegetarian meal in a Shojinryori restaurant (it belongs to a Buddhist Temple, you can find my full review here), and among the delicious dishes served there I had some fried tofu balls, simmered in a light vegetable stock with celery. At home I have been trying to reproduce that amazing taste with what I had available. The tofu is Chinese-style, New Zealand-made, maybe the stock is a bit 'Italian' in flavour, and the celery is from my garden. But every time I am happy with the results.
Now I make this a lot, especially for my kids. I buy the tofu balls in the Chinese shop in Henderson. They are already fried and puffy, and they are very versatile. For this recipe I just simmer them for 10 minutes with celery stalks and vegetable stock, then I lift them up from the stock (which I use as a base for soups or other things) with a slotted spoon, and I serve them, warm. They are so simple to make and yet they taste quite elaborate. I often serve them as part of a Japanese meal (as the protein dish) accompanied by a bowl of rice, a bowl of light soup, and some seasonal vegetables.
Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©