Crab, ginger & tofu fritters with Sichuan pickled vegetables

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Preparation info

  • For

    4-6

    , although the vegetables will make a little more than you need
    • Difficulty

      Easy

Appears in

Fusion: A Culinary Journey

Fusion

By Peter Gordon

Published 2010

  • About

What I like about these fritters is that they use silken tofu instead of the more traditional egg and cream in the mousse mixture to bind it all together. When I was doing my apprenticeship in Melbourne in the 1980s, we were taught that the best savoury mousses were always made with the addition of cream and eggs. What I’ve found is that by using silken tofu the mixture is much lighter and more pure-tasting. I often use Japanese tofu from a tetra-pak, it’s easy to source and store in the pantry - although if you can get fresh silken tofu, all the better. There are varieties of tofu that are light brown in colour, quite firm and almost rubbery. These are lovely to use in braised dishes, but they’ll make this mousse too dense. On you’ll see that I’ve used this same mixture to provide the crust for a fish main course, but another thing you can do with it is to roll them into marble-sized balls before deep-frying then serving them as canapes, topped with wasabi tobikko. The pickled vegetables will keep in the fridge for up to a week, so they can be made in advance.

Ingredients

  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • ½ cucumber
  • 2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • vegetable cooking oil
  • 200 ml rice vinegar (or any other white vinegar)
  • 100 ml mirin
  • 120 g white fish fillet, skin and bones removed, roughly diced
  • 120 g firm silken tofu
  • ½ tsp shichimi spice mix (a Japanese spice mix - or simply use paprika)
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp firmly packed and drained gari (sushi ginger) shredded (or use 2 tsp grated fresh ginger)
  • 100 g white crab meat, all shell removed
  • 50 g honey panko breadcrumbs (or regular breadcrumbs)
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • fresh coriander leaves

Method

Julienne the carrot and put to one side. Slice the cucumber into ½-cm thick slices and put to one side. Place the Sichuan peppercorns in a saucepan with 1 Tablespoon of the vegetable oil and turn the heat to medium. Keep stirring the pepper as the oil heats up, and at the point when they become aromatic, slowly add the vinegar and mirin mixed with 300 ml warm water, and 1 teaspoon fine salt. Bring to the boil and cook for 2 minutes. Add the carrots to the pan and bring back to the boil then take off the heat and add the cucumber. Give it a gentle stir, put a lid on and leave to go cold, then decant into a clean jar, seal well and store in the fridge. Best left for at least a day before using.

Make the mousse by placing the diced fish and tofu in a food processor and blitz for 15 seconds, scraping the sides halfway through. Scrape the sides again then add the shichimi spice, spring onions and some salt and blitz for another 5 seconds. Tip the mousse into a bowl and mix in the gari and crab meat. Place in the fridge and leave for at least an hour to firm up. Divide the mixture into 12 and roll each one in the breadcrumbs, gently pressing the crumbs onto the mousse’s surface. Place on a plate and put back in the fridge.

Set up a deep-fryer with 5 cm of oil in it heated to 180°C. Lower several fritters at a time into the hot oil from a slotted spoon and cook as many as will comfortably fit in the pan until golden. Remove and place on kitchen paper to drain.

To Serve

Place two or three piping hot fritters alongside some of the pickled vegetables and coriander leaves.