West Coast Pockets

West Coast Pockets

Seem familiar? They are a well known Cactus Club menu item and I just couldn’t come up with a different name so here is my homemade version of the Westcoast Pockets.  These were mine and my friend Nadines favorite appetizer at Cactus Club and a few years ago, when Nadine was still here in Vancouver (sadly for me and happily for her she lives in London now) there was a summer when we would head to one of the Cactus Clubs almost weekly just for some of these (and so Nadine could get a short rib beef dip).  These Westcoast pockets come in an order of three, which was a bit of a problem for us, so we would ask the server to make ours an order of 4 so that neither of us would have to quietly resent the other for getting two.  

The filling is basic enough – sushi rice, pea shoots, avocado, smoked salmon, and sesame but I was always curious about what these wrappers were really made out of… because without these sweet wrappers, these wouldn’t be pockets, and then they wouldn’t really be that special.  The menu card says tofu but these don’t look anything like the white blocks of tofu I’m used to.  

This brings us to a Sunday morning after a late night (which included dinner at Cactus Club English bay – which importantly does not have Westcoast pockets on the menu) when I woke up really early and couldn’t sleep anymore so I started searching how to make these at home.  I saw a few websites where people had bought the wrappers ready-made and simply filled them with the salmon and avocado, but I needed to know how to make the wrapper part (this is my sickness obsession – most people would be happy getting the ready-made wrappers – heck most people would be happy just going to cactus club but blessing or curse…I do not work that way).  So… I learned that the wrappers are made of aburaage – which is tofu (of course), so then my mission was to find out how to take tofu and turn it into aburaage, and then how to turn the aburaage into these incredible sweet and savoury pockets.  

Well…this is how…


The wrappers / La envoltura

  • 1 block of firm tofu / tofu firme
  • Vegetable oil for frying / aceite vegetal para freír

Marinade / El marinado

  • 1 cup of water / taza de agua
  • 4 tablespoons mirin / cucharadas de Mirin
  • 4 tablespoons tamari / cucharadas de tamari
  • 4 tablespoons sugar / cucharadas de azúca

Sushi Rice / Arroz de Sushi

  • 1/2 cup sushi rice / tazas de arroz para sushi
  • 3/4 cups water / tazas de agua
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar  / cucharadas de vinagre de arroz
  • 1 tablespoon sugar / cucharada de azúcar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil / cucharada de aceite vegetal
  • Sliced smoked salmon /  salmón ahumado en rodajas
  • 1 avocado / palta o aguacate
  • Pea shoots / brotes de guisantes

This recipe makes 6 large Westcoast Pockets –  the equivalent of two orders at Cactus Club /  la receta va a hacer alrededor de 6 grandes “west coast pockets“.


  • First take a block of firm tofu and cut into 3 even slices / Lo primero es cortar en tres partes iguales el tofu
  • Place the tofu slices on a clean towel, top with a couple paper towels and then with a chopping block for weight.  The purpose of this is to drain off any excess moisture before they are fried  / Debe sacarle lo que mas pueda de liquido del tofu antes de freír, por lo tanto depués de cortar, poner toallas de papel y presionar sacando el liquido. 
  • Heat some canola oil in a saucepan, deep enough to cover one of the tofu slices – a few centimeters or so.  Use a thermometer, and once the oil reaches 130 degrees add one of the tofu slices and fry for 6 minutes, flipping once halfway through.  Remove after 6 minutes and place on a paper towel lined plate to drain excess oil / Calentar el aceite en un sartén el cual pueda cubrir el tofu. Usa un termómetro y cuando la temperatura alcanze los 130 grados poner un pedazo de tofu y cocinarlo por 6 minutos , cocinando los dos lados, depués remover del sartén y poner sobre toallas de papel para sacar el aceite extra.
  • Continue to fry the remaining slices of tofu and once they are all fried, increase the temperature so that oil is up to 180 degrees and then fry the tofu slices for a second time for 3-4 minutes each / De la misma manera freír las demás partes del tofu y después de esto aumentar la temperatura hasta que el aceite llege a los 180 grados y freír nuevamente el tofu, cada parte por 3 o 4 minutos.
To prepare the sushi rice / Para preparar el arroz del sushi
  • First rinse the rice in a strainer until the water runs clear and add to a saucepan with water.  Place on high heat until the water boils and then decrease the heat to simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the water is all absorbed.  Set aside to cool / Lo primero que debes hacer es lavar el arroz, luego poner a hervir con agua y bajar la temperatura a fuego medio alerededor de 20 a 25 minutos , dejar que el arroz absorva toda el agua.
  • Mix rice vinegar, sugar and vegetable oil in a small saucepan and heat just until sugar dissolves then set aside to cool / Mezclar el vinagre, azúcar y aceite vegetal en una pequeña olla y calentar hasta que se disuelvan los ingredientes y dejar a un lado.
  • Pour vinegar mixture over the cooked rice and stir with a wooden spoon / Agregar el vinagre al arroz y mezclar con una cuchara de palo.

  • Cut fried tofu in half, there will still be white tofu in the center.  Using a knife and a spoon, scrape out as much of the white tofu as you can.  This can be refrigerated and used for another purpose / Cortar el tofu que esta frito a la mitad, después que hagas esto verás que hay algo blanco en el centro, con una cuchara o cuchillo saca esto.
  • Once all the pockets are hollowed out, add to a colander and pour a kettle of boiling water over them, while leaving hot tap water to run on top of them for about a minute.  This is to pull out any excess oil from the pockets and to get them ready for the final step which is to marinade them in a sweet and salty broth made of Mirin, soy sauce and sugar / Después de que hayas sacado el execeso de tofu del centro, pon los “bolsillos de tofu” en un colador y  bañarlos con agua hervida y también con agua caliente del grifo por un minuto. Esto ayudara a sacar el exeso de aceite del tofu.
  • In a saucepan mix together water, Mirin, soy sauce and sugar and heat until sugar is dissolved, add tofu pockets and simmer for at least 20 minutes / En otro recipiente mezclar agua, Mirin, salsa soya y azúcar y calentar hasta que este disuelto, agregar el tofu y dejarlos en el agua por 20 munitos.
  • Separate the rice into 6 equal portions, add a piece of avocado and a slice of smoked salmon then slide it all into one of the pockets with a few pea shoots.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with pickled ginger (and tobiko – if you have it) / Separar el arroz en 6 porciones iguales, agrege un pedazo de palta y de salmón ahumado y poner adentro de los bolsillos de tofu, tambien agrege algunos brotes de guisantes. Ponga un poco de semillas de sésamo y gengibre en vinagre.
This one is for you Nadine!
 and the rest for us