Most people, both vegetarians and carnivores, are so convinced that tofu is simply a meat substitute, they are utterly surprised when I say I like tofu most when it’s combined with meat. Mapo doufu, for example, is one of my favourite dishes and removing either meat or tofu from it, makes it lose all its charm. Therefore, I am thrilled to present you this sensational snack I have fallen in love with and cannot imagine with either of the two main ingredients removed or substituted.
Thanks to my recent progress in Japanese reading I dare more and more often the Japanese food web. Thus, not only do I find new cooking ideas, but at the same time I progress with my language level. Fun and studying in one! Anyway, browsing through Cookpad, the biggest source of recipes in Japanese, I stumbled upon very tempting-looking tofu and pork belly rolls. Even though I have substantially modified it, I kept the original tofu and meat combination idea, which I am so fond of.
First of all, since I didn’t have the pork belly, but plenty of smoked bacon, I used it instead. I have also made snack-sized cubes instead of the original bigger pieces. Accidentally, I happened to have smoked tofu too, so it was a double smoked modification. The author adds some seasoning and sauce, in which the rolls are quickly simmered, but smoked bacon doesn’t require any simmering, so I simply skipped this part. As a tofu and bacon fan, I knew it could only be good, but frankly I didn’t expect such an amazing taste. I am already planning to “trap” all the tofu haters I know with this delicious snack ;-) The author uses shiso (perilla) leaves, but since I only had mitsuba from my balcony (another aromatic Japanese herb), I decided to put it instead. As a chilli fan, I tried putting them instead of the herbs and it worked perfectly too, so feel free to add whatever you like between the meat and tofu cubes. Click here to check the original Kirakira’s recipe (I don’t know if there is an English translation yet).
Preparation: about 10-15 minutes
Ingredients (serves three as a snack or two if served with rice as a main course) :
200 g (about 7 oz) firm tofu (I have used smoked tofu)
12 very thin slices of smoked narrow bacon (mine width : 2 cm only) or less slices if they are wider
12 big leaves of shiso, mitsuba, edible chrysanthemum, Thai basil, chives/green onion cut into bigger strips or thinly cut fresh chilli peppers
sauce of your choice or chilli oil or nothing
Put the tofu into boiling water for two minutes.
Drain and pat dry with paper towels.
Cut the tofu into pieces as wide as the bacon slices. (As I have mentioned I had very narrow bacon, so I cut the tofu into 12 x 2 cm pieces).
Roll the tofu pieces first into bacon, inserting herbs or chilli between tofu and bacon strips.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan and pan-grill the rolls (or rather cubes in my case) 20- 30 seconds on each side (if you use raw pork belly, you should cook the rolls much longer).
Serve immediately with a sauce of your choice or brushed with chilli oil or serve them as they are.