Sonntag, 9. Juni 2013

Maultaschen - tender Pasta filled with tofu and millet

In southern Germany we love noodles (Pasta) called Maultaschen / mouth bags. A type of bigger rectangle shaped pasta filled with ground meat and spinach. They remind on Italian Ravioli pasta were the filling is also sealed between two layers of thin egg pasta dough.
Maultaschen are traditionally served on Fridays. In former times due to the catholic religion it was restricted to eat meat on Fridays, there may be conservative catholics still sticking to this rule. Well, Maultaschen keep the meat nicely hidden from neighbors and the god above.

Today I decided to prepare an asian-german crossover version, meatless:


They are filled with an healthy but delicious and a little spicy mix of millet, tofu and mustard greens

Maultaschen:look at the filling

 For the filling:

  • 1 cup millet / a little salt for cooking
  • 250 g firm tofu
  • 250 g greens: spinach, chard leaves, mustard greens, blanched, squeezed and chopped
  • 2 big dried shiitake heads, ground into powder (I used my electric mill)
  • 1 spring onion, chopped finely
  • 1 garlic glove, minced
  • 1 good pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 pinch Chinese 5-spice powder
  • black pepper
  • chilli flakes
  • 1 knob ginger, ground
  • 1 tablespoon arrow root starch

Pasta dough:
  • 200 g flour, wheat flour for pasta is best
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon rape seed oil
  • 2-4 tablespoons water (depends on the flour in use, air humidity)

Simmer millet in 1 cup lightly salted water for about 30 min until the millet is soft and the water is soaked up and evaporated / same as in steaming rice.
Crumble the dry tofu (for drying just squeeze the tofu a bit between paper towels).
Mix all ingredients together. Puree half of the amount in a blender until smooth and add back, mix, set aside.
Knead the dough ingredients, add the water gradually until the dough keeps together and is sticky (not dry and crumbly). Put the sticky dough in a big plastic bag, fold the bag around the dough leaving some space and step on the dough for 5 minutes. This is important. The dough has to be knead for a long time or it will stay not or too elastic, means it will be hard to roll it into a very thin layer.
The dough should be smooth, shiny not really sticky anymore: if you form a ball out of it and cut the ball in two halves, there should be plenty tiny air bubbles in the dough.
Let dough rest for 30 minutes wrapped in cling film.

Get the rolling pin or much better your pasta maker machine ready. Actually I rolled the dough extremely thin because the filling is so tender. The common Maultaschen dough layer is a little bit thicker (thick as the back of kitchen knife's blade) but the traditional filling is firm too - reminds me more on meat loaf or hamburger.
Roll 1/3 of the dough very thinly, powder with a little flour before and after. You should be nearly able to read a newspaper through the dough. Cut the dough plate into long four finger wide straps. 
machine made straps
Set tablespoon after tablespoon of filling next to each other in a row while leaving a 2 finger wide space in between.  Cover with a second, same sized dough strap. Seal the dough around the filling with a round long and slender wood by rolling next to the filling / try to get some air out of the filling before sealing, this will glue/seal the dough layers together. Therefore I used a cooking chop stick - very convenient. 

Filled, sealed and cut
Cut the noodle-bags using a cookie cutter - if you like round Maultaschen you could use round cookie cutter too or even a water glass. I have this tool with a metal wheel which works nicely. The older I get the more kitchen tools I own but this cutter is over 30 years old...
Place the noodles on parchment paper or newspaper powdered with a little flour until you used up all dough and filling: I prepared 25 noodles and used up all filling and dough.

Maultaschen ready to be simmered

 It is much more easier done while using a pasta making machine and it it doesn't have to be an expensive one. I bought mine many years (maybe 15 years) ago at IKEA:

Italian pasta maker, mechanic with 3 different types of rolls: straps, thicker noodles, very thin noodles

If you eat lots of Pasta the machine is heaven's send. If not, it is fine: just use a rolling pin or even a wine bottle will do or a part of a wooden broom stick - I worked with all of these and recommend the broom stick. 
Let the dough run through the machine 6 x while changing the setting for the rolls each time until the dough straps are paper thin. Don’t forget to powder the dough lightly with some flour before using the machine.

first turn in the machine

The machine-made dough straps have the perfect shape to make lots of noodles in one go, just halve the middle of its length and set the filling on one halve, cover with the other. Keep the trimmings in cling film. 
When you are done with all dough, knead these trimmings together and let the dough run several times at the widest setting of the machine. First the dough will not keep together but the more turns it takes the more it will get smooth again. When the moment is reached were the dough keeps smoothly together, change the settings again, there should be enough trimmings to make one strap for the last round of noodle bags.

Simmer 6 filled noodles in a big pot filled with hot salted water at a time for 10 minutes. Don’t let them boil, just simmer on a medium low heat.
Drain the noodles in a wide sieve, let cold water run over them or they will glue together. Serve the noodles in a little broth as in dashi spiced with soy sauce and mirin.
The well drained (dry) noodles can also be roasted in a pan in a little sesame oil until they are a little crunchy and golden. They taste good sprinkled with soy sauce or with sweet chili sauce.
 I deep freezed half of the uncooked Maultaschen for later use.

It is absolutely important to roll a really really thin dough. They will taste *yuk*  covered with a thick noodle layer. Thicker rolled the noodle layers will  stay firm and very tough.


Hiroyuki hat gesagt…

Thanks for the interesting history of "mouth bags".
There are hardly any vegetarians in present Japan, but in rural areas like mine, koshin
is still practiced in small communities, and people gather and eat vegetarian dishes.

Thanks for the description of the pasta machine. But broom stick? I guess I'll use a rolling pin bought at a 100-yen shop.

Fräulein Trude hat gesagt…

Vegetarian dishes are very en vogue. Each food scandal is resulting in: don't eat meat...or: meat eater are destroying our economy and our environment... poor animals...
Healthy food is the new religion so it seems. There are lots of people in Germany which are true believers.

BTw.: Cheap broom stick "sticks" are made from plain wood, if you watch italian documentations about a grandma making pasta you will see the broom stick (without the broom). I think our broom sticks are different to japanese.

Sissi hat gesagt…

They look like Italian ravioli indeed! Both meat and vegetable fillings sound good. You have managed to prepare such a thin pastry! I am impressed (especially since I have never tried making thin-pastry ravioli).
Even though my city is not historically catholic (protestant), most restaurants put fish or vegetarian dishes as "menu of the day" on Fridays. In France I think all the restaurants do it.