The first component to the dish is a simple tofu cream. It is admittedly way easier than putting the entire recipe together, and would be great for dipping crudites, so keep it in mind on nights when you want a less complicated but still tasty appetizer.
For the Lemon Tofu Cream:
- 1 (2-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 8 ounces firm silken tofu
Note: to dampen the cheesecloth, fully wet with water and wring out.
2. In a food processor, combine the extracted ginger juice, lemon juice, canola oil, salt, and tofu. Process until smooth.
You'll only need half of the tofu cream for the hiziki caviar below, so keep the rest for dipping raw veggies. I liked it with yellow squash, zucchini, and button mushrooms best.
8 servings (2 tablespoons), Calories 34
And now for the hors d'oeuvres themselves.
For the caviar:
- 1 ounce dried hiziki seaweed*
- 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon canola oil
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 minced garlic clove
- 1 lemon
- 48 sesame-flavored rice crackers
- 1/2 cup Lemon Tofu Cream
- 48 (1-inch) pieces sliced fresh chives
- 48 pieces matchstick-cut carrot
2. Heat the sesame oil and canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the seaweed; cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 2/3 cup water, the soy sauce, and the garlic. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 6 to 12 minutes, until the liquid is evaporated. Set aside.
3. Peel the lemon, and cut lengthwise into 6 wedges. Cut each wedge crosswise into 8 pieces, for 48 triangles total.
Note: I've never peeled a lemon before, and was amazed at how much thick pith there was to peel through. Do make sure you get through to the flesh underneath, because the pith is quite bitter. You'll wind up with 6 wedges that look like orange segments, and those in turn get cut into the 48 triangles.
4. Now it's time to assemble: It's most helpful to have your chives and carrots ready to go, and to line up the sesame crackers on a large work surface. Place 1 teaspoon seaweed caviar on each rice cracker. Place 1/2 cup Lemon Tofu Cream in a zip-top plastic bag and seal. Snip a small hole in 1 bottom corner of the bag, and pipe about 1/2 teaspoon onto each cracker. Top each cracker with 1 lemon triangle, 1 chive piece, and 1 carrot piece.
*Hiziki is a very thin, ribbonlike seaweed. Look for it with other seaweeds in the Japanese section of your market - I used Eden Foods. If you can't find hiziki, substitute nori. Although nori doesn't come in ribbons, it won't matter because you're going to mince it in a food processor anyway.
16 servings (3 topped crackers), Calories 40
An absolute burst of flavor! Eat these in one bite for the full effect; the fishiness of the seaweed caviar is offset perfectly by the bright pop of lemon, crunchy carrot, and crisp rice cracker. As for the Lemon Tofu Cream, it is one of those dips that you quite simply need to keep dipping into - addictive. Since the dip is so easy compared to the (admittedly complicated) rest of the recipe, I will no doubt revisit it when I need a simple crudite-and-dip fix. I would increase the amount of fresh ginger juice, which got lost under the lemon and tofu. Likewise, when assembling the appetizer, I would add more tofu cream to each cracker. In sum, time consuming but worth it!