Its been a pretty exciting few weeks for Zoe and I! Our friend Kimberly just got home from her mission for our church and we’ve been helping her preparing for her wedding!
I absolutely adore weddings. I love the beautiful decor, the elegant tableware, the gorgeous range of long dresses, the romance in the air and of course the exquisite selection of food.
Unlike most weddings in the United States, the Chinese really go all out to celebrate their weddings. It usually involves a 10 -course banquet for close friends, family, acquaintances (usually adding up to a couple hundred people) at a restaurant, with entertainment, activities and traditional ceremonies. There is usually an exchange of alcohol or tea between parents and the newlywed couple. Videos, performances that have long been prepared who be shown throughout the evening of the banquet. Loud laughter, happy faces, congratulatory words are seen and heard throughout the long evening and well into midnight. I’ve been to handful of weddings growing up and it has always been one of my favorite parts of the Chinese culture! I absolutely look forward to seeing the beautiful bride in all her dresses. Yes lets stress the last plural ‘s’. In Chinese weddings, the bride usually wear 3-4 different dresses throughout the night, changing every other hour. It seems like an ordeal, but truly the bride becomes the focus of the evening. Oh, and of course the highlight of the banquet must be mentioned! Some examples of food served including a whole steamed fish, crackling roast pork skin, creamy shrimp salad stuffed spring rolls, sweetened lotus seed paste stuffed buns, char siu (barbecue pork) fried rice, shrimp and green bean stir-fry with cashews, sweet walnut dessert soup etc. You have never been a extravagant wedding till you’ve been to one in Hong Kong!
Now its almost so hard to believe that one of my own friends is preparing for her own wedding. Since its been on the forefront of my mind, Zoe and I settled on making these small little zucchini bites. And I know what you’re thinking – you will definitely not find these in a traditional Chinese wedding banquet, but these elegant little bites definitely gets me all excited for the upcoming wedding! Wouldn’t they be perfect for a reception?
We decided to do an East meets West appetizer. The first one is a cross between a Chinese-Korean fusion inspired spicy mapo tofu bites on charred zucchini. The best thing is that its spicy enough to give these treats a little kick, but the zucchini helps balance the heat a bit so for those who aren’t big fans of spicy food – this is still perfect for you! however, if you are really really not keen on that dot you worry, because we have a second option for you! This second one reflects the more authentic but to-die-for traditional Italian bruschetta – a layer of homemade vegan cheese topped with sundried tomatoes and fresh basil.
*By the way this vegan cheese rocks! We’ve made it a dozen times and it always comes out perfect. Even non-vegans love love love this cheese! We’ve found the combination of tofu and miso paste to yield a wonderful creamy, but salty flavor typical of cheese!*
I love these multicultural, international, unique zucchini bites that are healthy, delicious and super simple to whip up. Not to mention its all vegetarian – but you could never tell because they taste so good! Definitely impressive and so so beautiful!
Ingredients – serves 2-3 (as an appetizer)
- 1-2 zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
Mapo Tofu: (Adapted from KoreanBapsang)
- 2 large button mushrooms (2 ounces)
- 1/2 pack of silken tofu, diced into small cube
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 onion, diced
- 1/2 tbsp gochugaru
- 1 tbsp GF Soy sauce
- 1/4 tbsp GF Gochujang
- 1/2 tbsp GF Doenjang paste
- 1 tsp honey (or agave nectar)
- 1/2-3/4 cup water
- Black Pepper
Sun-dried tomato and Tofu Ricotta:
- Sun-dried Tomato
- 1 pack of Firm (extra-firm) tofu, (recipe calls for 12 ounce, I used 360g)
- 1/2 cup basil, sliced thinly
- 2 tbsp white miso paste
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
- Garnish: basil leaves (pick out the smaller ones, or cut up some father largest pieces)
How to Make:
- For the Mapo Tofu: Prepare your onions, garlic, tofu.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add in your onions, garlic and gochugaru. Saute for about 2-3 minute till slightly brown.
- Add your mushrooms in and stir fry for 2 minutes till slightly wilted.
- Next, pour in gochujang, doenjang, soy sauce and honey. Continue to mix for about 2-3 minutes till the ingredients are fully incorporated.
- Add in the water. Bring to boil.
- Carefully slide your silken tofu pieces into the pan. Make sure they are not overlapping.
- Allow the silken tofu to cook for 4-5 minutes.
- For the Tofu Ricotta Cheese: Blend all the ingredients together. Taste and adjust seasoning according to taste.
- For the Zucchini: cut your zucchini into thin rounds. Heat up your skillet over medium heat. Arrange your zucchini slices and sprinkle salt and pepper over the top. After a couple minutes, flip the zucchini and season the other side. You should see brown char marks over the zucchini.
- Set them aside and allow them to cool.
- To make the Mapo Tofu Zucchini Bites, scoop some of the tofu mixture over the zucchini and drizzle the sauce.
- To Make the Sun-dried Tomato, Tofu Ricotta Zucchini bites: spread a thick layer of tofu ricotta. Arrange 2-3 slices of sun-dried tomatoes and garnish with a basil leaf.
Gochujang is not Gluten Free, here are 2 options:
Doenjang is not Gluten Free either, but you can purchase it here: GF Doenjang.
P.S. Please adjust according to taste, each brand of Gochujang or Doenjang will have different levels of saltiness and flavor. I would suggest using less then add more as you go along.