Tofu Filling Recipes

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Bi Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Recipe) Recipe

If you're looking for tasty Vietnamese vegetarian food, this bì chay recipe is just for you. This version respects the true Buddhist vegetarian diet, which states no onion, garlic or shallots allowed. The flavors of the dish are mainly from the toasted jasmine rice ground into a fine powder, blended with very thinly shredded fried potatoes, taro, tofu and jicama. Jicama is a sweet turnip that is used quite often in Vietnamese cuisine (as well as in Mexican food) and it mimics the texture of pork skin.

I served this tofu dish with rice noodles, aromatic Vietnamese green herbs and a soy sauce-based dipping sauce made with coconut. The result is a simple, refreshing dish that is packed with flavor. It just proves that with the right ingredients and cooking techniques, even food made for a restricted Buddhist vegetarian diet can be satisfying. Don't believe me? You'll have to try it to for yourself!


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Vietnamese Tofu Stuffed Betel Leaves  Recipe

Tàu hũ cuốn lá lốt (betel leaf wrapped tofu in Vietnamese) is very similar looking to Greek dolmades. Instead of using grape leaves though, betel leaves serve as the packaging and delivery device for pan-fried tofu and vegetables. Betel leaves have a peppery taste, and when cooked they have the appearance, but not the texture of nori. The tofu mixture is similar to the filling I use for my vegetarian egg rolls.

The traditional way to prepare this dish is with extra lean ground beef (see tips), called thịt bò nướng lá lốt. However, Aunt Elise, who is a vegetarian, is visiting from Vietnam and taught me how to make the meatless version of the dish. Either way, it's an exotic and authentic taste of Vietnam.


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Bi Cuon Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Spring Rolls) Recipe

The bì cuốn chay is a blend of bì chay, thick rice vermicelli noodles, baby cucumber sticks, Vietnamese mint and Thai basil wrapped in a bánh tráng (rice paper disk). It is served with a simple soy sauce-based dipping sauce called nước chấmnước mắm (fish sauce) or a peanut sauce (recipe follows in the tip section).

We had some bì chay yesterday. I served it with bún (thick rice vermicelli noodles). When served together, it is called Bún chay. In many ways, the dish is basically a deconstructed spring roll. That made deciding what to do with the leftovers really easy.  Without much effort, you'll get two meals out of the same dish. And did I mention that it is absolutely delicious?

If you crave the fried version for your main course, check out the recipe here.


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Bi Chay (Shredded Tofu and Crispy Mock Pork) Recipe

Bì chay is probably one of my favorite Vietnamese vegetarian street foods. Not only is it a popular everyday eat, but it is also very common at temples. It's a mix of fried Asian ingredients such as tofu, taro, potatoes, jicama and fine vermicelli noodles. The whole mix is topped with dry toasted jasmine rice mill. It gives a nice aroma and chewy texture to the blend.

Whenever I pack sandwiches for a picnic, I either make the good ol' cheese and vegetable sandwich or an Asian-style sandwich, which is called bánh mì chay. It is a Vietnamese-style baguette sandwich stuffed with bì chay, pickled daikon and carrots, and green sliced chiles.

You can also simply eat bì chay with bún (bún chay), the vegetarian equivalent of bún cá chiên (fried fish with vermicelli rice noodles). 

If you want to serve this as a appetizer (bì cuốn chay) for a vegetarian crowd, just wrap the bì chay in rice paper and create little spring rolls.


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Mini Fried Vegetarian Eggrolls (Cha Gio Chay in Vietnamese) Recipe

Eggrolls (Chả giò in Vietnamese) are a staple in Vietnamese cuisine. Despite its name, eggrolls contains no egg. They're filled with taro root, carrot, dried mushroom and rice vermicelli noodles. They also usually contain tofu or a meat product. This version is fried but there's also spring rolls that are not fried, I'll make those and post them some time soon.

This recipe is for my version of vegetarian eggrolls. They are very convenient when you're serving a large crowd. Eggrolls are the perfect party food. You can make them large and serve them with the main course, or make them smaller and serve them as appetizers. All you need is a good fillling and a ton of little helpers to wrap the crispy delicious cigar shaped snacks. Some of my earliest culinary memories are of my mom making me wrap a bunch of eggrolls before a party.

It took all of us about half an hour to wrap everything whereas if you're alone it'll take about 2 hours. It won't take that long for your guests to devour them though!


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