How can you tell whether a falafel recipe is a good one? Two clues: 1) It begins by having you soak dried chickpeas; 2) It ends by having you dunk the falafel in hot oil, for honest-to-goodness frying.

We can look at this another way, from the negative side: Any recipe that calls for canned or even home-cooked beans should be tossed aside, because that will result in a mushy thing that’s about as far from falafel as, well, a bean dip is from a burger. And as much as the health-conscious might be tempted to bake rather than fry this Middle Eastern street food staple, that’s not a good way to go, either. No oven can give falafel the crisp exterior and fluffy interior that a bubbling pot of oil can. Besides, when the oil is maintained at the proper temperature and the falafel are properly drained, a whole serving – four to five balls – will absorb a mere teaspoon of it. Trust me, I measured.

There are some other tricks: For the best texture, the chickpea dough shouldn’t be too smooth, and it needs enough aromatic ingredients (parsley and garlic are standard) to give it a deep but still refreshing flavor. And, like it or not, falafel should be eaten as soon after frying as possible; that’s when they’re still a little moist inside.

I’m open to variations. Although chickpeas are the traditional legume of choice for falafel (and they’re my favorite), I’ve occasionally appreciated alternatives, particularly black beans.

More often, I play with the wrappers, the flavorings, even the shape and size of the falafel themselves. Given how disappointing most veggie burgers are, I like to make a falafel patty the size of a burger and put that between two buns. Pita is the traditional wrapper, tahini sauce the usual condiment, and a variety of pickled and roasted vegetables the normal accompaniments. But I’ve wrapped plenty of falafel in corn or flour tortillas along with toppings I otherwise reserve for tacos: salsa, avocado, queso fresco.

I hadn’t, until recently, taken an Asian turn. But when I saw a recipe that uses ginger and soy sauce in the falafel and wasabi in a cream, I couldn’t start soaking those chickpeas quickly enough. The recipe is in Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough’s new “Vegetarian Dinner Parties,” and they suggest it as the culminating savory course in a multi-dish affair, calling for the falafel to be served on plates with a little of the cream – and no bread in sight. I was looking for an all-inclusive weeknight supper, so I racked my brain trying to figure out what wrapping would best suit these flavors.

Naan, of course! I added sliced red bell peppers and cucumbers in addition to the wasabi cream to make a newfangled wrap. Variations and all, it met all my recipe requirements – and then some.

Ginger Falafel With Wasabi Cream

4 to 6 servings (makes about 18 pieces)

The light, fresh flavor of ginger permeates these crunchy chickpea balls, giving the traditional Middle Eastern street food an Asian flair. The wasabi cream takes it one step further.

Serve these wrapped in store-bought naan (with red bell peppers, cucumbers, greens and the wasabi cream) as a main course, or serve as an appetizer with the cream as a dipping sauce.

MAKE AHEAD: The dried chickpeas need to be soaked overnight. The chickpea batter can be stored in a covered food processor bowl at room temperature for up to 1 hour. The wasabi cream needs to be refrigerated in an airtight container for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. The falafel are best eaten soon after being made, but they can be refrigerated for up to 1 week and reheated in a low-temperature oven.

8 ounces dried chickpeas
1/4 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves
2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup)
2 1/2 tablespoons peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger root
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup vegan sour cream (may substitute regular or low-fat sour cream)
1/4 cup rice vinegar, preferably unseasoned
2 teaspoons wasabi paste (may substitute 2 teaspoons wasabi powder mixed with 2 teaspoons water)
Olive oil, for frying
4 to 6 pieces whole-wheat naan, warmed (may substitute pita or another flatbread of your choice)
1 medium cucumber, thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded, cored and thinly sliced
1 to 2 cups mixed salad greens, for garnish (optional)

Place the dried chickpeas in a bowl; cover with cool water by at least 2 inches. Soak overnight, or up to 24 hours, at room temperature.

Drain and rinse the chickpeas in a colander set in the sink. Pour the chickpeas into the bowl of a food processor and add the cilantro, scallions, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and baking powder. Process to form a thick, grainy, coarse batter, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. You want to process the mixture so that it is moist enough to hold together, yet not a smooth puree.

Whisk the sour cream, vinegar and wasabi paste in a medium bowl until creamy. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (and up to 1 day) to blend the flavors.

Pour about 3 inches of oil into a large, deep saucepan. Heat the oil over medium heat until it registers 350 degrees on an instant-read thermometer (or a deep-frying thermometer clipped to the inside of the pan). Set a wire rack over paper towels.

Form the chickpea batter into about eighteen 1 1/2-inch balls. Slip as many into the hot oil as will fit without crowding; you want space for the oil to bubble around each piece. Fry, turning them occasionally, for about 5 minutes to create crisp and browned falafel. Adjust the heat as needed so the oil temperature remains fairly constant. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the falafel to the wire rack. Repeat to fry all of the falafel balls.

To serve, place a warm naan on each plate. Divide the falafel, cucumber and bell pepper among the portions. Garnish with salad greens, if using, and spoon some wasabi cream over the top. Pass extra cream at the table.

Nutrition per serving (using 1 tablespoon of the wasabi cream per serving): 600 calories, 19 g protein, 88 g carbohydrates, 20 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 1,090 mg sodium, 16 g dietary fiber, 13 g sugar

Adapted from “Vegetarian Dinner Parties,” by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough (Rodale, 2014).