Vegan tofu gnocchi with shiitakes and chili oil

I came up with these gnocchi when I had the epiphany that tofu, being so similar to cheese, is whippable. Because it is whippable, you can use the tofu just like a ricotta or mascarpone, and in the case of the former, ricotta gnocchi is a thing, so surely tofu gnocchi could work, right? And the answer to that is a straightforward yes. I actually invented a simple, 3-ingredient recipe to make completely vegan gnocchi out of tofu, being flour, soft tofu, and salt. What I love about this recipe is that all of these ingredients, you can find in a traditional Chinese household or kitchen. The most Western thing you would find is the flour, and based on China’s long history of noodles, dumplings, buns, and fried doughs, you best believe that flour is a Chinese kitchen staple as well. And honestly, I prefer these gnocchi for several reasons. Not only can you not tell that these were vegan or made with tofu, but they take less time and effort than potato or ricotta gnocchi. You do not have to buy cheesecloths and strain the ricotta, or a ricer and rice potatoes. It is super simple and low-tech. However, the gnocchi on their own do lack flavor, which is typical with all basic pasta recipes. So I included a shiitake and chili oil-based sauce just to give them that umami, and that hot and sour that you would usually find in a lot of Chinese dishes.

For the gnocchi:
485g soft tofu
5g salt
250g all-purpose flour

Whip your tofu until it is creamy and smooth. Fold into that the other ingredients. Depending on how wet the mixture is, either shape it by hand into 1/2-inch by 1/2-inch pieces, or transfer the dough into a lightly oiled piping bag. Boil in heavily salted water for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the gnocchi begin to float to the surface.

For the dried shiitakes:
8 dried shiitake mushrooms
1/2 cup hot water

Soak the shiitakes in the water until soft. Pour the water through a sieve to catch any dirt and reserve that for the sauce that you will be making with the chili oil. Julienne the mushrooms.

For the umami-chili oil sauce:
1/4 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons chili flakes
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon Szechuan pepper, ground
a pinch of salt
Julienned mushrooms
2 tablespoons black vinegar
2 tablespoons mushroom soy
reserved mushroom water

Fry off the chili flakes, garlic, Szechuan pepper in the oil on medium heat first. Then sear off the mushrooms and salt in that mixture as well. Deglaze with black vinegar, mushroom soy sauce, and the mushroom water and allow that to simmer down. Finish with the poached gnocchi.

To garnish:
Purple radishes
1 tablespoon canola oil
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon black vinegar

Shave the radishes on a mandolin. Slice and rinse the scallions on a bias. Whisk together the oil, salt, and vinegar and toss into that the radishes and scallions. Top the gnocchi with the greens.

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