This dish is not perfect, but it’s about as close as a healthy vegan version of cantonese steamed fish can get! A favorite of my fiance and his dad, I don’t think it would ever replace the real thing for them, but we aren’t really making this for the carnivores, are we? It’s just a bonus if they like them! Which my fiance does approve of this dish. I’m going to give you two options with dish, the super healthy way I made it, or the slightly more traditional, but not so gut friendly way. It just adds one extra ingredient, but it might make a difference for you. I never had Jing Yue, because fish is not my favorite, so I had to consult my man on the flavor authenticity. I’m also going to include tips he suggest to make it even better, but that I have not personally tried yet.
For the fish body, I chose medium firm tofu since it’s a little lighter than the firmer tofu, but still holds its shape well. Steamed fish is usually light in texture and in flavor as well.
You can just make the tofu block whole, or you can be artsy and extra as I like to be and make your tofu look like a fish! Let me show you how. First cut the tofu in half, trying to get each side about the same thickness. I failed at that, but not too bad!
Next, take one block and do rounded cut from the middle of the side, to about half an inch above the other side, then repeat. I didn’t explain that well, soooo just look at the picture! You are basically making the head part of the fish.
Now for the other block, you are going to do the same thing, but a little straighter and a little less far down. (Just look at the picture. I’m a visual teacher!)
I’ll show you what your fish will look like, you don’t need to do this step.
Look at the cute little tofu fishy!!! I love it. I hope you do! Alright, now put the little pieces back if you got curious and did it too, and transfer carefully under a dish towel and some paper towels. Wrap the tofu up well, and press it for at least 30 minutes.
While you wait on that, jullienne your ginger and green onions and start making your faux fish sauce. I tried to get this as fishy as possible without it being overwhelming. To get tofu to taste similar to fish, you need seaweed, miso, soy sauce, vegan oyster sauce, garlic powder, lemon juice, and some black pepper.
This seaweed is called wakame. You need to make it into a powder by blending in a high speed blender or grinder. If you are left with some chunks that just won’t blend, sift it to get the powder separated.
Mix the powder with all the other ingredients, plus 1/8 cup + 1/2 tablespoon of water. Mix it very well to form a watered down paste.
Once the tofu is ready, you need to gently score it both vertically and horizontally so the sauce can seep into the tofu evenly. You need to cut the tofu only about half way down, otherwise you are going to have diced tofu instead of a fish.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut two pieces of Parchment paper big enough to wrap around the tofu in sort of a present or envelope shape. Set on piece of the tofu in the middle of one paper, and then the rest in the other.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. About ten minutes into the cooking time, heat up a pan to medium temperature, add a little water, and sauté the green onion and ginger. Make sure you cut the ginger smaller than I did in the pictures!
Cook until the ginger starts to go transparent, then drain the water and set the veggies aside.
After 20 minutes, take the tofu out, unwrap it and scrape majority of the seaweed mixture off. Leaving the paper open, cook the tofu about five minutes longer, so that the top of the tofu just starts to brown a little.
Take the tofu out and transfer it to your serving dish. Reshape it into the fish if you are doing so.
Now comes fiancé tip number one: heat the soy sauce and some of the seaweed together to incorporate the fish flavor more. Strain the seaweed out before serving.
Tip number two, as well as the traditional way to top the fish, pour 1/4 cup of hot vegetable oil over the tofu, and then 1/4 cup of soy sauce. This is more authentic, but certainly not as healthy.
Let me know which way you make it!
- 2 Tbps of cut Wakame seaweed
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp vegan oyster sauce
- 2-3 tsp of light soy sauce
- 1/4 tsp white miso paste
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/8 cup + 1/2 Tbsp water
- 1 block of medium firm tofu
- two green onions, julienned
- 1 inch of ginger, julienned
- 1/8 cup of light soy sauce for topping (1/4 cup if making it more traditional)
- OPTIONAL: 1/4 cup of vegetable oil if making it more traditional (aka unhealthy)
- Drain tofu and pat dry. Cut it according to picture instructions above to make it look like a fish, or keep it whole if you don’t feel like being fancy.
- Press the tofu for at least 30 minutes.
- Take two tablespoons of the dried wakame seaweed and blend or grind until it is a fine powder. If you are left with some chunks that just won’t blend, sift it to get the powder separated. Keep the leftover chunks if you want to make infused soy sauce* (see tips below).
- Mix the powder with the black pepper, garlic powder, white miso paste, 2-3 tsp of the light soy sauce, vegan oyster sauce, lemon juice, and water. Stir until well blended.
- Julliane your ginger and green onions (pictures show the ginger a little bigger, but you will get less of a harsh bite if the pieces are smaller.)
- Once the tofu is pressed, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut two pieces of Parchment paper big enough to wrap around the tofu in sort of a present or envelope shape. Set on piece of the tofu in the middle of one paper, and then the rest in the other.
- Now spread your sauce on both of the tofu pieces, rubbing it gently into the cuts and a little on the sides.
- Fold the tofu tight, but leave room for the steam at the top. Secure the paper with toothpicks to keep it closed. Be careful not to poke your tofu! (See photo above.)
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. About ten minutes into the cooking time, heat up a pan to medium temperature, add a little water, and sauté the green onion and ginger. Cook until the ginger starts to go transparent, then drain the water and set the veggies aside.
- After 20 minutes, take the tofu out, unwrap it and scrape majority of the seaweed mixture off. Leaving the paper open, cook the tofu about five minutes longer, so that the top of the tofu just starts to brown a little.
- Take the tofu out and transfer it to your serving dish. Reshape it into the fish if you are doing so. Top with the ginger and green onion, and pour the 1/8 cup of light soy sauce on top!
- OPTIONAL: To make it more traditional, first pour 1/4 cup of hot vegetable oil over the tofu, then 1/4 cup of light soy sauce on top after.
- Serve with white rice or all on its own!
To make the infused soy sauce, heat up the soy sauce over medium heat with either the left over wakame or about 1 tsp of wakame if you didn’t have any chunks leftover. Heat for a few minutes, and then drain the soy sauce into a bowl to remove the seaweed. Use this instead of the regular soy sauce. This will give the dish a more fishy flavor.