PISTACHIO BAKLAVA SURPRISE!
This unique recipe for pistachio baklava is made not from phyllo pastry, but a rare Chinese tofu! Today’s #LunchBreakLIVE with guest Chef and vegan tofu creator and Author, George Stiffman, will blow your mind. He shares one of the recipes from his forthcoming book “Broken Cuisine”! George’s motto is “Making vegan food taste better, with new tools!” Let’s see how he creates this unique recipe for us…
A TRIP TO CHINA CHANGED HIS LIFE
After going vegetarian in high school, George ended up on an exchange trip to China that would change his life. Living with a host family in northeastern China, he learned that for most of history, most folks in China ate mostly plants—and the cuisine of the city was just that. George wondered how many other plant-based foods must be out there, scattered across Chinese cities, towns, and villages, that had never left their place of origin. Tens? Hundreds? Thousands?
If only we had more of these foods in the states, eating plant-based wouldn’t be scarce—it would be abundant!!
George spent the next 7 years becoming fluent in Mandarin, learning to cook under a Buddhist monastery chef, working in restaurant kitchens, eating his way across megacities and tiny villages, apprenticing in an ancient tofu factory, and eventually presenting his research at Chinese food industry conferences.
In his forthcoming book, Broken Cuisine, he introduces rare Chinese tofus to western audiences. What are they? How are they different from American (and Japanese) varieties? How can they be used within western cooking?
Visit his Instagram for all kinds of homemade tofu recipes.
PISTACHIO BAKLAVA, BUT NOT YOUR USUAL BAKLAVA!
Fresh baklava is to die for—but leftovers just aren’t the same. After a night’s rest in thick, sticky syrup, phyllo pastry softens and becomes soggy and chewy. George knew that thin yuba could do wonders in other applications, so he tested it here. And WOW! The yuba baklava turned out flaky and crispy and held its crunch for several days. Leaning into yuba’s distinct nuttiness, George layered in pumpkin spice, coconut oil, and sesame.
To achieve the flakiest layers, be generous with the coconut oil and gentle when laminating the layers. Don’t forcefully press them together. For this recipe, stack 3 yuba sheets into each layer, as this provides a thin crackle without too much yuba chew. If you’d like a denser and more substantial bite, try stacking 4-6 sheets per layer and reduce the amount of nut filling. Don’t overbake, or the yuba will turn tough and chewy. The yuba should just be starting to color but won’t brown like flour dough. Chive seeds are a delicious alternative to sesame.
- 1 1/3 cups walnuts
- 1 cup pistachios divided
- 1 tbsp pumpkin spice seasoning
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ cup virgin coconut oil melted
- 15 thin yuba sheets
- Maple Glaze:
- 6 tbsp sugar
- 6 tbsp water
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 1 tbsp black and white sesame seeds toasted
- Preheat the oven to 350oF. Toast ¼ cup of the pistachios for 5-10 minutes until browned. Cool briefly, then chop or pulse coarsely in a food processor. Reserve for garnish.
- In a food processor, pulse the walnuts and the remaining pistachios until medium ground and chunky. Transfer to a small bowl and mix in the pumpkin spice and salt.
- Using the base of a loaf pan as a guide, trim the yuba into 15 9”x5” rectangles. Brush one rectangle with coconut oil, then lay inside the loaf pan. Repeat twice, to form a stack that is three layers tall. Sprinkle ½ cup of the nut mixture over the top sheet, then repeat this process 3 more times, but without nuts on top. Just oil the top layer and leave it plain. Using a sharp knife, cut the baklava in half lengthwise, in thirds cross-wise, then into triangles by halving each square. Bake for 50-55 minutes until the nuts are toasted and the top is starting to color.
- While the Baklava is baking, prepare the maple glaze. In a medium saucepan combine the sugar, water, and maple syrup. Heat over medium heat until simmering but NOT boiling and reduce by half, about 30 minutes.
- Remove the Baklava from the oven and immediately spoon on the maple glaze. You should hear a sizzling sound. Garnish with the remaining pistachio crumbs and sesame seeds. Allow to cool and harden. Our baklava can be stored at room temperature for up to a week, or frozen and reheated for a later date.
Thanks for joining us for some pistachio baklava love! This recipe is awesome and I hope you take the plunge and try it. If you do, be sure to take a photo of your finished recipe and tag @JaneUnChainedNEWS on Instagram. If you are interested in other easy vegan recipes to try, be sure to stop by the #LunchBreakLIVE page, where we have a ton to choose from. Until next time…keep cookin’!
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Donna Dennison is an UnchainedTV writer, graphic designer, video editor, and IG contributor. Donna is also a creative in the film industry.