Vietnamese Tofu Balls (Xíu Mại Chay)

by Tâm Hiền


2-14 oz firm organic tofu, cubed in large pieces
4 oz mock chicken or ham, broken into small pieces
2 tbsp cornstarch
3 slices bread, crusts discarded and broken into very small pieces
2 cups leek, chopped
3 large fresh tomatoes, cubed
4 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp mushroom seasoning
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp sesame oil
1 cup jicama or water chestnut, chopped fine
2 tbsp wood ear mushrooms, soaked, cleaned, and chopped fine
3 tbsp shiitake mushrooms, soaked, cleaned, and chopped fine
3 whole green cabbage leaves
Chopped green onion and cilantro
1 tsp cooking oil
Salt and black pepper


1. In saucepan, boil tofu for 5 minutes. Drain and cool until room temperature.
2. Using a mortar and pestle (or food processor), crush cooked tofu and mock meat until it reaches a chewy texture. Place mixture in medium mixing bowl.
3. Add corn starch, bread, leek, ketchup, soy sauce, mushroom seasoning, nutmeg, black pepper, sesame oil, jicama, and mushrooms to bowl. Mix well.
4. Using a medium ice cream scoop, scoop mixture into your palm and roll into a firm ball. Set aside.
5. Place steamer in stockpot with a small amount of water and bring to a boil. Place cabbage leaves in steamer and set balls on top of them. Steam for 7 minutes.
6. For the sauce, heat cooking oil in skillet pan. Add leek and tomatoes and mix well. Add ½ cup of water. Cook for 5 minutes.
7. Add steamed tofu balls to sauce and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt. Garnish with green onion and cilantro.
8. Serve with steamed rice or make a sandwich with baguette, cucumber, carrot, and daikon pickle.

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