Posts Tagged ‘asian’

Faux Pho: Vegetarian Pho


And we’re back. (the royal we, that is, since you have little to do with these posts.) This is part two of our pan-Asian feast, and you should still be hungry after the TVP egg rolls, considering they were over a month ago.

Below is my recipe for faux pho, or vegetarian/ vegan pho with seitan. If you knew me in the last year before my veggie turn, you know that I wanted to inject pho directly into my veins; I used it to celebrate, to mourn, to energize, to relax, to turn on, and turn off. I used to live in a town outside of DC and frequented a place—Pho 75—that looked like a shitty high school cafeteria had a baby with a scene from Apocalypse Now. But they served a huge, cheap, steaming bowl of pho replete with Sriracha and tripe. Wondrous offal aside, the staple beef broth makes pho a no-no, so I had to adapt. Welcome to the adaptation, kids.

And please no asshats who say, “This isn’t pho because it isn’t beef based,” “The noodles/ sprouts aren’t correct,” or any other frivolous critiques. Shut up and, like I say in my about this veg virgin, take my recipe and do with it as your tongue sees fit.

Ingredients for the broth:

7 – 8 cups vegetable broth

1 medium onion, quartered

1-inch hunk of ginger, skinned and sliced

8+ garlic cloves, crushed

2 tbs. ground anise

3 tbs. ground clove

1 tsp. cinnamon

4 tbs. soy sauce

1 tbs. cayenne pepper

1 tbs. olive or sesame oil

Ingredients for everything else:

1 lb. buckwheat soba noodles (or rice noodles)

8 – 16 oz. diced seitan, depending on your protein concerns (tofu also works; just double the amount)

7 scallions, thinly sliced

2 big handfuls of bean sprouts (I used the skinny ones, but the fat are excellent too.)

2 big handfuls of basil leaves, whole

1 – 2 limes, cut into wedges (or a really convenient bottle of lime juice)

Sriracha

hoisin (although I don’t really use hoisin)

Makes 4-6 servings.

To make the broth, heat the broth over a medium to medium-high heat. Use a big ass pot, because it’s a group swim by the end of the recipe. Char—but do not burn!—the onion, ginger, and garlic in the oil. After the broth begins to steam, dump in all of other ingredients for the broth, veggies included. Slowly bring the broth to a boil, drop the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the broth, and keep the solids if you’re feeling economical. For the faux pho, though, you’ll only need the liquid.

To make the soup, cook the noodles appropriately (or inappropriately, if it doesn’t get too messy and weird). Strain. When you’re getting close to serving time, add the seitan to the hot broth to heat it through. Divide the noodles into the desired portions and portion out the seitan with a slotted spoon. Next, cover the noodles with your beefy non-beef broth. Serve with the basil, sprouts, lime (juice), Sriracha, and hoisin. This is an interactive meal, so everyone can dress as desired.

Enjoy, bitches. Make sure to keep chopsticks, a big-ass spoon, and sweat napkin handy throughout.

Non-Veg Friendly Factor: 4.734. Everyone I served this to loved it, from vegetarians to dedicated and stubborn omnivores, two of who aren’t even big fans of standard pho. The dish was just as comforting, tasty, contingently spicy, and satisfying as I remember. It was at my kitchen table instead of a dive pho place with Vietnamese on the menu, but I found some familiar escape in my steaming bowl of noodles. I will be honest about something: I don’t exactly remember what beef broth tastes like; so while I stand by mine as a good approximation—especially of pho broth—I’m not willing to say it will make you forget about bovine liquid (although the phrase bovine liquid might).

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Baked Egg Rolls


It's like food porn on an ugly bed.

I know; I know: I’ve been away awhile. My fairly deep, fairly sincere apologies. I won’t hold it against you if you’ve all turned into tofu trollops without me. In fact, I hope you have been out there, playing the field, and experimenting—you know, getting your veggie freak on. But I’m glad we’re reunited now, back to our painted people of tempeh ways. (If you haven’t noticed, I’m slowly compiling a compendium of ways to link overt sexuality and vegetarianism. Actually, if you haven’t noticed, shame on you; it’s in the blog’s title, people.)

What’s on the menu for this glorious comeback? Try a three-course, eastern-Asian inspired meal. In a few days, there will even be my first interweb foray into desserts, which will blow your simple minds. First thing’s first, though. The appetizer: baked eggrolls with textured vegetable protein (TVP).

Ingredients:

16oz. shredded red cabbage

1 cup ginger dressing

1 cup textured vegetable protein

7/8-cup miso broth (thanks to the most helpful vegetarian I know–see comments below–I now know to be on the look-out for miso with bonito, or dried Mackerel flakes, in it. Consider yourselves warned.)

1 pkg. Nasoya egg roll wrappers (comes with 21 wraps, but I recommend splitting them for 42 wraps if you bake them)

A note about TVP: I haven’t used it much, but, so far, I’m pretty impressed. It’s a soy-based protein, and is a very well-rounded one at that. It’s completely flavorless, so it will soak up whatever flavor you use to reconstitute it. I recommend going with a strong flavor, since I’m not kidding when I say “flavorless”; some sources call the taste “neutral,” but that’s not nearly descriptive enough. Simply put, don’t fret about over-flavoring TVP. It’s even great for meat-eaters looking to cut back on calories, since it (reportedly) works well as a low calorie, low fat, high protein extender in things like ground beef. I promise you’ll be seeing it more on the VV.

Now for the steps.

Preheat the oven to 425degrees and allow it to warm up. Pour the ginger dressing over the shredded cabbage, making sure to coat every shred. Every damn one, slacker. Let it sit while you accomplish the paragraph below.

Slowly bring the miso to a boil and quickly add it to the TVP, stirring the slurry together until all of the liquid is soaked up. (Think making oatmeal with boiling water.) Taste the TVP, and make sure it’s cooked enough; you don’t want any crunch, but a subtle, spongy give.

Now comes a crucial decision: bake or fry. If you want to fry, just use the wraps as-is and—this is a VV guess—fry with the peanut oil at 350degrees until the mothers float. If you’re baking, though, tear the two sheets of wrapper apart from each other—like peeling a sticker away from a surface—so you have a thinner wrapper. I tried both as-is and peeled versions, and I preferred the latter; they were less gummy and baked more evenly.

I hope your burrito/ egg roll folding skills are on point. If not, just flip over the Nasoya package and follow their graphic guidance. (Or, just check out this video; I use more filling than this person does. My recipe isn’t for gastronomic wussies and culinary quitters.) Orient the wrapper in a diamond and place the filling—I did about a 1:1 of cabbage and TVP—just south of the middle, from left to right. Now fold the bottom point of the wrapper over the filling, fold the right and left sides in, and roll the bad boy up into a tasty tube of tasty, making sure to use water, non-stick spray, or an egg wash to seal the final corner.

Spray each side of the egg roll with a nonstick spray or rub with oil—extra virgin olive oil or, better yet, sesame oil—and bake at 425 for 8 minutes, flip, and put ‘em back in for another 8 minutes. By the end, they should be crispy wonderful.

And, if you’re feeling adventurous, serve with my peanut dipping sauce or some more of that ginger dressing.

I don’t have an exact number, since I experiment with wrapper thicknesses, but this should about 15 – 20 egg rolls. Should.

Non-Veg Friendly Factor: 4. They come out like hearty spring rolls, which makes for a nice appetizer or side dish. Plus, the TVP is barely distinguishable from meat, so you’re good to go there. It has a light flavor without the sauce and there’s a subtle crunch, thanks to the wrapper and cabbage. I really liked the purple color hinted through the thin wrappers, but I did hear some complaints about the aesthetics. They don’t microwave so well, though: they end up kind of soggy and flaccid. My main complaint, however, is that they’re flat, not round. I guess my rolling skills aren’t as on point as they should be. Eff.

Egg rolls are fun, easy, and exciting for my tongue. You’ll definitely be seeing more recipes. Next time, however, will be course two: Faux Pho.

Enter the Wonton


Konichiwa, bitches. Do I have an accidental surprise for you: wontons. (Yes, I know wontons are Chinese and not Japanese; I just love “Konichiwa, bitches” too much.) I say accidental because this went from a sub-par ‘breakfast’–more on that in a sec–to punch-me-in-the-face-good pot stickers. See, at my also sub-par job (where I am writing this post, oddly enough), I often work a 1am-10am shift. So I wake up at 11 or 11:30pm to be out of the door by 12:30am. It’s disorienting to wake up yesterday and go to work tomorrow, but that aside, figuring out what an appropriate veg breakfast is can be somewhat complicated. I often just stick with toast and hummus or scrambled eggs with mushrooms and spinach, but that can get old fast. So one morning I decide to make a tofu scramble: extra firm tofu, diced red peppers, and diced onions. I seasoned it a bit, but it still sucked. I mean, it was fine, but not for an 11:45pm breakfast. So, unwilling to throw it out, the scramble went into Tupperware and was forgotten. Fast forward four or five days and to a large helping of hunger and boredom. The rest, readers–well, the rest is this post. Peep this ish.

Ingredients for wontons:

1/2-lb extra firm tofu, drained and crumbled (you can do this with your hands)

1 red pepper, diced

3/4-cup onion, diced

1-package wonton wrappers (The brand I used, Nasoya, works great and comes with 48 in a pack; you won’t use them all, but better safe than sorry.)

2 tsp. garlic powder

1 tbs. black pepper

2 tbs. low sodium soy sauce

1 egg, whisked

1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil or sesame oil

Makes as many servings as it makes. Depending on how much stuffing you can add and the shape you form them, expect about 20-30 wontons.

Ingredients for (optional) dipping sauce:

1 tbs. natural peanut butter

2 tbs. low sodium soy sauce

1 tsp. Sriracha sauce/ hot sauce

1 tsp. pepper flakes

If you’re not into spicy, kill the Sriracha. I recommend only cutting the amount of pepper flakes in half, though, to keep some of the flavor.

Heads up: the peppers will need to be diced finer.

First up: the scramble. Heat the oil to a pan over medium to medium-high heat and cook thepepper and onion mix until soft–about 5-6 minutes. Now add the drained and crumbled tofu, the seasonings, and soy sauce and cook for another 3-5 minutes. You’re not looking for any real char on the tofu or peppers, just heat and tenderness. (I feel like there’s a joke here, but it’s 3am at work and one-liners are out of my immediate reach, so this one’s on you.) Set aside the mix; this will be your filling.

Now for the incredibly not fun part: stuffing the wontons. You have three shape choices to choose from: the bindle, the tortellini, and the ravioli; I utilized the latter two, forgetting totally about the first. The steps aren’t hard; it’s just a matter of patience, the type of wrapper (mine was probably too thick for the bindle), and using the egg to seal the seams. The bindle and tortellini take about the same amount of filling, and the ravioli can take just a bit more. I recommend starting out with a hefty teaspoon and working from there. Mind you, stuffing isn’t an exact science–you’ll only get a feel for it by the end–and it’s an obnoxious pain in the ass with tasty results.

For the bindle: place the filling in the middle of the wrapper, egg-wash the exterior of the wrap (as if a frame of egg wash), and gently twist the wrapper closed, like you would a bag of bread when you lose/ give up on the twist tie.

For the tortellini: this one is hard to explain verbally, so bear with me. Orient the wrapper so it’s a diamond, place the filling in the middle, and frame the outside of the wrapper with the egg wash. Bring the bottom point to the top (home base to second base), then squeeze and seal. Finally, do the same for the side corners (third and first bases). For a visual reference, this version looks like a tortellini.

For the ravioli: This one is easy–so easy, in fact, that I quit on the tortellini halfway through and did this one. You get more stuffing in and it’s less (but still quite) tedious. Again, place the filling in the middle of a wrapper, wash the outside, and place another wrapper on top while aligning the corners. Seal and crimp the edges.

As far as cooking goes, you can pan fry (or deep fry, if you must), steam, or boil these suckers. For the latter two–steaming and boiling–make sure your seals are especially perfect. I pan fried them in a cast iron skillet with peanut oil; use this or vegetable oil, since they have high smoke points and will tolerate the high heat well (unlike olive oils).

These dudes are tasty on their own, but a dipping sauce is always nice—and this one is real easy, too. Combine the ingredients and microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring between nukes, until you get a thick consistency and all of the ingredients are combined. You can zest this up with some lime or grated ginger, as well. In fact, this sauce works great over pasta and rice dishes as well. So consider this as two posts, you greedy bastards.

Non-Veg Friendly Factor: 4.5. My brother, a committed meat eater who hates tofu, was scarfing these wontons and lathering them with the sauce. I think I pimp smacked him with the pimp spatula at one point because, damnit, I needed this for dinner for a few days. The half-point deduction is because these do have tofu in them, which automatically sounds unfriendly. My brother is an adventurous eater, so I was able to persuade him for the sake of NVFF research.

These things are light enough (if steamed) for an appetizer or, when paired with the sauce and pan-fried, great as a meal. I’m not sure how they freeze, but I imagine it’s just fine.