Our family recently went to a Japanese sushi bar and enjoyed platters of delicious rolls. When I came home, I was inspired by the sushi and reinterpreted a new fusion appetizer, maki-style.
The appetizer consists of a tofu roll filled with shiitake mushrooms, carrots celery, insanely fragrant onions I grew myself in our garden and garlic. As I created the dish, I realized I wouldn't be able to keep the roll in place by simply rolling a sheet of pan-fried tofu. I improved and wrapped them in phyllo dough. You'll be surprised; it wasn't that complicated. Sometimes, improvisation ends up with beautiful results!
Servings: 18 rolls
1 (16-ounce) package firm tofu block
3 shitake mushrooms
½ celery stalk, peeled and finely diced
6 tablespoons onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon Italian parsley, finely chopped
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 sheets phyllo dough
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
your favorite sauce
Cooking the tofu:
Cut the tofu lengthwise into 6 thin slices. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a frying pan. Pan-fry the slices on only one side until golden. The tofu should have a nice fried outer crust and still be moist on the other side. Season the un-fried side with salt. Transfer the tofu, fried side down, onto paper towels. Allow to cool a little.
Making the roll filling:
Peel the carrot and shred it. Cut the shreds into very fine pieces.
Chop the mushrooms into fine dices (same size as the carrots).
In the same pan, add 1 tablespoon oil. Add the onions and cook until fragrant. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add the carrots. Season with salt and pepper. Add the mushrooms and celery. Once the mushrooms are transluscent, turn off the heat. Add parsley.
Place one phyllo dough sheet on a mat. Place the fried tofu piece, fried side down onto the phyllo dough. Spread about 1 tablespoon of the filling mixture on top and carefully press and roll the tofu. Tightly and slowly roll the tofu onto the phyllo dough. Moisten the edge with water using your finger, then finish rolling. Press gently with both hands for about 10 seconds. Trim the ends. Repeat with the rest of the tofu pieces.
Fill the frying pan with more oil. Place the rolls in the hot oil one at a time, seam side down. You will see bubbles. As soon as each roll turns slightly golden, rotate it. When the rolls are even and golden all the way around, remove from the pan and place on a paper towel to drain the oil. They should be golden, crispy and delicious.
Cut into 3 (2-inch) pieces using kitchen shears, trimming the ends for a clean presentation.
Arrange the rolls cut side up on a plate filled with your favorite sauce (I made a tahini yogurt lime sauce).
Don't over-stuff the rollor it will burst; the diameter of the roll should shouldn't measure more than 2 inches.
I used these particular vegetables but you can add any other vegetables that are in season.
You can prepare the ingredients in advance, chill in the refrigerator and wrap the roll in phyllo dough the next day.
You could use the phyllo dough scraps as topping for a healthy fruit "crumble-style" dessert.
When working with phyllo dough, I use a spray bottle filled with water to maintain the same level of moisture and I cover the dough with a dampened cheese cloth. But most important, the key to not tearing phyllo dough is to work fast with no interruptions!