It’s the last week of December and that means three holidays down, one more to go! Are you thoroughly sick of yams, Brussels sprouts and Tofurkey yet? I am and I need to get back a little spice in my life. I’m such a spicy food addict to the point where the Tabasco has to be on the table alongside the salt and pepper or else I complain that the food is bland.
Unfortunately, the meal I was responsible for cooking for the family this holiday season couldn’t have any chili or garlic in it as my in-laws have delicate (read: bland) taste buds. A life without chili and garlic is no life at all, I’m afraid. Fortunately, I have these little fried pockets of curry goodness to save me.
Thai golden bags are basically wonton or spring roll wrappers stuffed with whatever you want and deep fried. You can tie something green around them to make the look pretty. This recipe, similarly to last week’s massaman curry, comes from Hema Parekh’s The Asian Vegan Kitchen and are stuffed with tofu and shiitake mushrooms flavoured with Thai curry paste.
There are a few different ways you can fold your golden bags and looking around the interwebs you’ll see that the more common way is to make them look like little coin purses. Mine, however, were not cooperating that way and I found it easier to fold them up similarly to the photo in Hema’s book.
Serve these little tofu packages with a dipping sauce, which you can easily buy if you don’t feel like making one or whip up a simple sweet chili sauce while you are putting together your golden bags.
The Asian Vegan Kitchen
Makes about 20
- 1 tablespoon oil, plus enough to fry in
- 1 tablespoon Thai curry paste (your favorite kind, I used red)
- 4 – 6 fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms
- 200 grams (7 oz) extra-firm tofu
- Half a carrot, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons peanuts, crushed
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 20 wonton wrappers
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 long, red mild chili peppers, fresh or dried and soaked in hot water until soft
- 1 red birds eye chili, chopped (adjust to taste)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup (112 grams) sugar
- 1/2 cup (118 ml) rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) water
- Drain and press the tofu under something heavy for at least 30 minutes. Then smash it with a fork to form crumbles.
- If you are using dried shiitake mushrooms, soak them in hot water until soft. Finely dice the mushrooms.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Fry the curry paste, stirring, until fragrant – one to two minutes. Add the tofu, carrots and shiitake mushrooms and fry until the carrots are crisp-tender. Mix in the peanuts, soy sauce, sugar and salt and remove to a bowl in order to cool.
- Mix the cornstarch with a bit of water to make a paste. Take one wonton wrapper and place a small teaspoon of cooled filling in the centre. Wet the edges of the wrapper with the cornstarch slurry. There are several ways to fold a golden bag. Here I brought the corners together over the filling and pinched the sides together. You can also fold them in half to make a triangle and then bring the right and left corners together while ruffling them to make a money bag shape (better look at a photo on the interwebs).
- Heat enough oil for deep frying in a deep pan. Test the temperature of the oil by inserting a wooden chopstick. When bubbles form around the chopstick, the oil is hot enough. Drop in a couple golden bags and fry until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. When cool enough to handle, tie a chive around the bag for decoration.
- Make a paste from the two types of chilies and garlic in a food processor, mortar and pestle, or chopping them as finely as possible. Combine the sugar, vinegar and water in a small pan and heat while stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the chili-garlic paste and bring to a simmer. Cook until reduced to just slightly more liquid than you would like because it will continue to thicken as it cools. Remove from heat and let cool.
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