You know how sometimes you hear an old song that you haven’t heard in awhile and then remember just how much you really like it? I’ve discovered that the same can be true of recipes. Case in point is the recipe for “Crispy Stuffed Filet of Soy” from my 2002 book, The Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook.
I developed the recipe based on one taught to me by a fabulous Taiwanese vegan chef named Roger who had a restaurant in Virginia Beach back in the ‘90s. He called his version “crispy fish” because the nori lends a flavor of the sea to the dish.
I’ll say up front that this recipe is a bit time consuming, but well worth it: first you make a stuffing using shredded “bean curd pak” (a frozen bean–curd product found in Asian markets). If unavailable, shredded tofu can be substituted (as it is in the cookbook), although the texture and flavor will be a bit different. The stuffing is enclosed in a sheet of nori and then inside a sheet of yuba (bean curd skin — also found in Asian markets, the frozen whole sheet yuba is better than the dried kind).
The stuffed “filet” is first sautéed on both sides to brown nicely and then placed on a baking sheet and baked a bit longer in the oven. It is then cut diagonally into 1/2-inch slices, arranged on a platter and topped with a spicy ginger sauce that’s so delicious, you want to drink it. Because the sauce and the filets can be made in advance, it makes a great company dish, because you can simply do that last bit in the oven and at serving time and just reheat the sauce as well.
Years ago when we lived in Virginia Beach (and near Asian markets), we used to enjoy this dish frequently, especially when we had friends over for dinner. After moving to the mountains and away from good places to shop, the recipe receded to the background. However when these same friends came to visit a couple of weeks ago, we decided it was time to make our old favorite “crispy fish” again.
Having been in Charlottesville recently, I was able to find both bean curd pak and yuba, so the recipe went together without a hitch. I made individual servings instead of one or two large “fish” and served them over rice, smothered in spicy ginger sauce, and surrounded by stir-fried vegetables. It was unbelievably good, and I know I’ll be making it again soon.
Sometimes the oldies really are the goodies!