Patty and Balls This is the prototype veggie burger - no attempt at this point to make it taste like beef though. Ganmo are made in the form of patties, similar to hamburger patties, or balls, similar to meatballs. They are made of tofu and grated or slivered vegetables, then deep fried in oil.

I favor patties over balls as they have more surface area and become crisp and firm. Balls tend to be a bit mushy inside. I suggest making a double recipe as it's hardly more effort than a single - most of the work is in set-up and clean-up.

Recipe:   There are many variations so the list of vegetables here should be considered typical but not mandatory (though nearly all have carrot). Many other firm vegetables could be used as well and seasonings can be changed.



Tofu, soft
Sesame Seeds
Black Mushroom
Ginger Root
Scallions, small
Gobo (1)
Nagaimo Yam (2)
Soy Sauce
Mirin (3)
Oil for Deep Fry
  1. Press TOFU for about 3 hours - see below. Use one block, exact size may vary a little.
  2. Dry roast SESAME SEEDS to a light golden color.
  3. Soak BLACK MUSHROOM (a dried Shiitake, actually) in warm water for 1/2 hour. Squeeze dry, remove stem and chop fine,
  4. Grate GINGER ROOT and CARROT, chop SCALLIONS fine, mix all with Mushroom.
  5. Grate GOBO (if used) and immediately cover with cold water acidulated with a little citric acid or lemon juice to prevent browning.
  6. Heat 1 T Oil in a small pan. Squeeze Gobo dry and add it to the pan along with Mushroom mix. Fry stirring for about 1-1/2 minutes. Cool.
  7. Mash Tofu thoroughly. Mix in Vegetable mix and roasted Sesame Seeds.
  8. Grate Nagaimo (oog, it's like snail snot) and mix into tofu along with Soy Sauce, Salt and Mirin. Mix very thoroughly so it's all even.
  9. Oil your hands lightly and form the mix into balls or patties. Use about 1 heaping tablespoon for balls,
  10. Heat Oil to 365°F/185°C and fry ganmo a few at a time. When they float separate them and turn them once or twice for even browning. Drain well.
  1. Gobo   Burdock root - use if available. This is a loooong thin brown root. Scrape the brown skin off and grate fine. Immediately set in water with a little citric acid or lemon juice to prevent browning. Squeeze dry before using. For details see our Burdock / Gobo page.
  2. Nagaimo Yam   [Yamaimo, Mountain Yam, Glutenous Yam] This is available in all the Asian markets around here - but you may not be so lucky. Some say to substitute 1 T cornstarch, others say use 1 T Egg White. The egg white is probably more effective but less vegetarian. For more information see our Nagaimo Yam page.
  3. Mirin:   Real Mirin is a sweetened sake. Every supermarket Asian section has "Mirin Style Cooking Seasoning" - not as tasty by any means but usable - or just sweeten sake with sugar syrup.
  4. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste

Cut tofu on press Start with blocks of regular Soft tofu and cut into pieces that will result in the desired size (see below). Why not start with Firm tofu which already has less water? Because then it wouldn't be Japanese, now would it?

Your press board should be somewhat slanted so liquid will drain off into the sink (retired cutting boards are great for this purpose). Most people use a dishtowel or cloth napkin instead of the bamboo mat shown in the photo (which drains faster but leaves a pattern on one side). Each of two 19 ounce blocks of tofu has been cut into thirds and set on the mat. If you're doing only one block set the slices near the sink end and use a spacer (about the height of the finished blocks - I use a wine cork) between the boards at the counter end and put the weights just an inch inboard from directly over the tofu slices.

Press in operation Here the press is in operation with the top board on and bricks for weights. Once the tofu was partially pressed I added a third brick across the two. I let the tofu press for 3 hours and by then it was quite firm and no more water was dripping out. 4 or 5 hours wouldn't hurt though.

Pressed tofu Remove any surface water from the blocks with paper towels. The photo shows fully pressed blocks. Originally they were 1.3 inches thick and weighed 6.3 ounces each. After pressing they were 0.8 inches thick and weighed 3.8 ounces each.

Patties & Balls The vegetables have been prepped as noted above and lightly fried. The tofu has been mashed very thoroughly and mixed with all the other ingredients. The finished mix has been formed into patties and balls and arranged on a lightly oiled foil, ready to fry.

Frying Heat plenty of oil to 365°F/185°C and fry the tofu to the degree desired. When the balls or patties float to the surface separate them and turn them over once or twice for even frying. Commercially in Japan two deep fryers are used, a first at about 340°F/170°C and the final at about 385°F/195°C. I have found trying to imitate this with a single frier impractical.

Here 6 ganmo balls are frying in my favorite deep fry rig. That's a 14 inch Indian kadhai charged with Olive Pomace oil and fitted with a wire base and draining rack designed for Chinese woks. The geometry of the kadhai is much better than a wok for deep frying and results in less oil splatter than with any other device (they do a lot of deep frying in India and can't afford to waste oil).

Olive Pomace oil provides the same health profile as regular olive oil but goes to a very high temperature (460°F/240°C), is more resistant to heat degradation than peanut oil (1/3 as much polyunsaturated fat) and imparts no olive flavor to the food you fry in it. For more information see my page Cooking Oils.

Draining Here finished patties rest on the drainage rack. A final draining on paper towels will finish the operation. Refrigerated they'll last about a week and they can be frozen for longer storage. Warming to room temperature and a quick deep or pan fry will revive them.

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