Serve these hot and crunchy balls as an appetizer or over rice noodles with a drizzle of sweet chili sauce for a quick vegetarian meal.
By Pallavi Gupta
I recently went to a restaurant with some of my friends and there was a dish with prawns that was ordered on our table which looked beautiful (NO, I am not a stickler about hanging out with only vegetarians). I cant remember the name of the dish but it was spicy and it looked like today’s recipe. I had my friend sit there and describe the flavors as she was eating it and list the ingredients based on that….yes yes, perks of being friends with a food blogger!
She listed a lot of Indo-Asian flavors (Indo-Asian Cuisine = a hybrid of Indian and Chinese food invented by Indians) which I eventually changed to something completely different. You see there is this stir fry that I make for a few years now with eggplants and tofu with a lot of scallions and that has great flavors from chili, fennel, soy sauce and sugar – more American Chinese. SO, I incorporated the flavors from my stir fry and came up with this vegan appetizer.
I used minced tofu and eggplant to make the base and seasoned it with fennel, chili, black bean paste along with onion and garlic. I added some cornstarch to bind it together and rolled the balls in rice vermicelli before frying them. Honestly, I was very nervous before frying them – I always am, right before frying anything that has a possibility of shattering in the wok on me. I was worried because both tofu and eggplant has moisture and as a binding agent I was using a little bit of cornstarch. I didn’t want to use bread crumbs because then it would have landed up tasting like potato cutlets. SO I said a little prayer and fried these babies and luckily they turned out great! The vermicelli looked so pretty and added this crunch to the exterior of these balls. I served them with some sweet chili sauce.
If you land up with left overs, you can heat them in the oven for 10 minutes and serve them over plain rice noodle with some drizzle of sweet chili or a spicy peanut sauce. It should make for a flavorful and a quick meal!
Originally Published: November 25, 2013