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Crunchy Tofu and Ginger Pork Puffs

Crunchy Tofu and Ginger Pork Puffs

From: Chef Robert Danhi at the 2014 Pork Summit. Yield: 40-50 pieces.

Fermented Chili Sauce:
½ lb. long red chilies (may substitute red Fresno chilies or jalapeños)
2 cloves garlic
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. fish sauce
½ cup water
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar

Salted Sesame Sweet Plum Sauce:
½ cup plum sauce
¼ cup Chinese black preserved plums
1 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. minced ginger
2 tsp. dark mushroom soy sauce
2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

Pork Puffs:
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 Tbsp. minced ginger
3 oz. water (use from hydrating shiitake mushrooms)
2 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. tapioca starch
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
¼ tsp. coarsely ground white peppercorns
12 oz. pork leg (10%-15% fat), ground coarsely
¼ cup dried wood ear mushrooms, soaked, drained, trimmed, cut into fine 1/8” strips
6-8 caps dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked, drained, trimmed, cut ¼” dice
¼ cup finely chopped green onions/scallions
25 pieces fried tofu, cut in half and folded inside out (yield: 50 pockets)

For fermented chili sauce: Combine chilies, garlic, salt and fish sauce in food processor. Chop roughly. Transfer to container, stir in water, cover loosely and ferment at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. Transfer to small saucepan; bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Transfer to a blender with vinegar; puree until very smooth, adding water as needed. Strain and store in squeeze bottle.

For salted sesame sweet plum sauce: Puree until smooth paste is formed. Let rest 12 hours for color and flavors to balance. Mixture darkens as it sits. Store in squeeze bottle.

For pork puffs: Whisk together fish sauce, ginger, water, baking powder, tapioca starch, sugar and pepper. Add ground pork; mix well. Marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour. Transfer to chilled food processor and puree until very smooth. This will take a couple of minutes. Remove to a bowl and fold in mushrooms and green onions/scallions.  Cook a sample and then adjust seasoning with salt, fish sauce and sugar. If needed, adjust texture with vegetable oil and water. Fill inside-out tofu with pork mixture. Pack very tightly, forming a slightly rounded surface.

For final assembly: Deep-fry pork puffs at 375°F until golden brown and cooked through. Drain on absorbent paper. Place fried pork on decorative skewer, drizzle with both sauces and sprinkle with toasted black and white sesame seeds.

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