Yuzu tofu matzoh balls with chili-fennel broth

I feel like whenever the holidays roll around, there are always weird recipes or dishes that come up. This recipe would be one of those. I purchased yuzu flavored tofu from the local Japanese grocery store on a whim, thinking it would be fun to bake a dessert with. Little did I read, it was firm tofu. For reference, silken and soft tofus are more ideal for desserts, as they are custardy. Firm tofu has liquid pressed out of it, resulting in a spongier end product, better for things like stir fries, soups, and just savory things in general. The firmness of tofu is 100% dictated by the amount of water pressed out of it, in this case, the silken and soft containing more water, and the firm and extra firm containing less. While I could have rectified this issue by blending more water into the tofu itself, I will admit that firm tofu just this almost fermented flavor to it that is just not desert-friendly in general. So instead, I opted to go savory with it in the form of this matzoh ball soup recipe!

Now I’m not going to pretend I made the matzoh balls 100% from scratch. My friend Sylvie gave me matzoh ball mix to see what I could do with it. The mix itself contains garlic and onion powder, meaning that the mix already is inherently savory. The yuzu tofu itself is tangy, but has turmeric notes, so I knew that would pair well with the powders in the matzoh mix. Additionally, the tofu could be used to bind the mix in place of eggs, so I knew I could do that much with both the mix and this increasingly more frustrating impulse buy. I rummaged through my fridge to see what I could cook my tofu matzoh balls with, and realized that I had a lot of fennel, aromatics, and chicken stock. So I went ahead and made this chili and fennel broth to soak into the matzoh balls, and I could stir fry some of the yuzu tofu and add that into the broth, to offer a softer texture to contrast the more firm matzoh. Hilariously enough, I served this at a holiday dinner with friends, and they actually loved it, hence why I’m sharing this mishmashed holiday recipe for all of you to try as well!

For the matzoh balls:
1 packet matzoh ball mix
2oz yuzu tofu
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Fennel-chili broth*

Mix together to form your matzoh ball dough. Roll out approximately 9 balls from the mixture(16g each). Poach the matzoh balls in the broth, in a covered pot, until they are about doubled in size.

For the fennel-chili broth:
1/2 a bulb of fennel
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
a pinch of salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp sumac
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
3 dried Asian chilies
2 cups chicken stock(can sub with vegetable stock to make it vegan!)
1 tbsp yuzu juice

Do a large dice on the fennel. In a saucepan, sweat out the fennel with the olive oil and salt until translucent. Then toast off the spices. For the chilies, slice into 1/4-inch disks, keeping the seeds, and sweat those out as well. Add in the chicken stock and allow everything to cook down by 1/4. Finish with the yuzu.

For the yuzu tofu:
6oz firm yuzu tofu
a pinch of salt
canola oil

Dice the yuzu tofu into 1/2 inch-thick cubes. Pat gently with a paper towel to remove any liquid. Season with salt. Sear in a nonstick pan on medium heat until browned.

To garnish:
Fennel fronds

Start with 3 cubes of tofu per serving. Then place on your matzoh balls, the braised chunks of fennel, and the broth. Finish with the fennel fronds before serving.

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