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Tofu Rice Balls

1 block cotton tofu
4-cm chunk of carrot
12 mangetout
4 dried shiitake, reconstituted
2 Tbs almond powder (a substitute for the traditional grated yam)
2 cups thin, unsalted stock
about 2 tsp Japanese soy sauce
about 2 tsp sugar or mirin
salt to taste

Press the tofu well to get rid of as much water as possible. (The
official way is to wrap the block in paper towels, place it on a
tilted board, place another board on top, and weight it. Keep
changing the towels whenever they get soaked. This strikes me as
wasteful and fiddly--I just wrap it in a bamboo sushi-rolling mat,
put it on the rack over the sink, and balance a couple of full tins
on top.)

Cut the carrot into very thin julienne strips lengthways, the
mangetout diagonally, and the shiitake similarly (in class, the
carrot was the bits left over from carving flowers). Make sure the
veggies are dry. Grind the tofu in a *suribachi* (Japanese pestle
and mortar, if you happen to have one handy, otherwise I suspect
a food processor would do) until it's creamy and free of lumps.
Mix in the almond powder and a pinch of salt, then mix in the

Dampen your hands and shape small handfuls of the mixture into
patties. Heat the oil for deep frying. Test the temperature by
dropping a tiny bit of the mixture in. If if sinks sullenly to the
bottom; the oil's not hot enough. If it skitters frantically over
the surface, the oil's too hot--add cool oil immediately to prevent
damage. At just the right temperature, the bit will sink a little,
then rise and make cheerful frying noises. Put a couple of the
patties into the oil, but only enough to cover about 1/3 of the
surface, to prevent the temperature of the oil dropping. Turn them
when the underside is nicely browned (small puffs will turn themselves
as the air in the submerged half expands). Remove and drain when
cooked. Allow to cool.

Heat the stock, add the seasonings until the stock is delicately
flavoured. Put the ganmo in a sieve and pour boiling water over
them to remove excess oil. Place the ganmo in the stock and simmer
gently for about 5 minutes. Transfer to individual serving dishes.
(This was actually part of a more complicated dish with stuffed
lotus root and spinach, so maybe it needs a little garnish.)


Many different vegetables could be used in *ganmo*, so long as
they're finely sliced and perfectly dry. Seaweed would be either
*hijiki*, which is black needle-like threads that need to be
reconsituted, or *konbu* left over from making stock, which would
be simmered further until soft then cut into strips (the simmering
liquid makes a refreshing tea, or a stronger-flavoured stock). Rice
seems like a reasonable addition too, although I've never seen it.


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