I was initially at a lost for what to do about making the tofurkey. It’s a western mock meat but I wanted an Asian take. After a couple days of letting things simmer on my mental back burner, I woke up one day thinking about ganmodoki – an iconic Japanese fried tofu fritter that was initially made around the 1400s to fake goose for Buddhist monks.
With that in mind, I made a mixture of mashed tofu and seasoned it simply like I would roast turkey or chicken. A little binder of egg and cornstarch held the mixture together. When done, it felt like moldable very soft clay. (If you’re looking for an actual ganmodoki recipe, check page 154 of Asian Tofu; on the facing page is a photo of the ganmodoki I ate in Kyoto, a tofu hotspot that developed primarily because of the many monasteries in the surrounding area.)
How to mold tofurkey? Early in this tofurkey project, I’d looked into buying turkey cake molds to really fake it, like a good Chinese mock meat. The molds looked large and frankly were too big for me to commit to. What I was really going after was a tofurkey that had a nice brown crust, pretty much like a roast turkey would have. Forgoing the Chinese pursuit of visually faking things, I remained true to the Japanese ganmodoki concept of making the tofurkey taste good with impressions of the real deal.