Thursday, August 22, 2013

Wacky Packages.

Climbing in your windows. Snatching your pantry up. So, I love finding new ingredients to cook with. Sometimes I'll go the Asian supermarket and just grab stuff that looks interesting or has super kawaii packaging. Oh look, that bottle has a picture of a little happy squirrel on acid holding hands with a crying squid. Aww I need it. I also like things with lots on exclamation points on the package!!!! That must mean that it's insanely awesome right? I sure think so. 

Here are five meals (all of which happen to be vegan) in which some fun ingredients were used (all tested out on my protégé Lucy). Some are wackier than others but all super delicious!!! Yes, they are all in the reddish brown color spectrum but it's not my fault that miss Lucy needs a quart of some form of hot sauce on everything she eats. She has a heat deficiency due to her cold black heart. It can't be helped. Anyways, here we go.

Filipino Black Vinegar Marinated Tofu Adobo with Red Pepper and Carrot. This one is pretty chill as far as crazy ingredients go. Aside from the black vinegar which is made from sugarcane and taste kinds like a really sour balsamic there is also a little bit of Maggi seasoning which taste kinda like soy sauce and Worcestershire mixed together. After marinating the tofu in soy sauce and black vinegar I seared it off in a hot pan with julienned red peppers, onions, carrots, and garlic. Added some of the marinade and a little veg stock and reduced a tiny bit. Yum.

Jerusalem Artichoke Angel Hair with Vegan Chorizo and Pimentón Spiked Tomato Sauce.
The Jerusalem artichoke pasta has a similar texture to whole grain pasta (which truthfully I don't care for) but better. I did a South American style fideo (noodles) with a spicy smoked paprika laced tomato and roasted red pepper sauce. I crumbled in some vegan chorizo (Field Roast brand) which actually has a pretty great texture and flavor. Not at all like some other brands which taste like spicy wet sawdust.

Szechuan Fried Rice with Fried Lemongrass Tofu and Chòu Dòufu (Preserved Tofu and Soybean). Fried rice made with tiny red Szechuan chilies that will burn your face off. I almost choked to death cooking this one. Chòu dòufu (also know as stink tofu or preserved tofu) smells like a rotten egg in a moldy wet sock. Here's the thing though. Cooked down it adds this amazing umami flavor that kills you with deliciousness. Super deep and rich and salty. A lot of people eat it raw which I cannot do. My gag reflex can't get past the lovely aroma. Super tasty cooked though.

Mushroom "Shrimp Ball" and Soba Noodle White Miso Soup.
I bought these taro root mushroom "meatballs" at Uwajimaya. They lay right next to the giant pink knobby fake ham logs. They're awesome. Firm and chewy in texture they really do well at impersonating shrimp balls. I would be fooled. The broth was white miso mixed into a little veggie stock and some soy and chili. Simple. Soba noodles are pretty much my favorite noodle. They are made from buckwheat. So yummy.

Vegan "Steak" and Kidney" Pie (Deconstructed)
Another Uwajimaya purchase, these fake kidneys looked like the inside of a bicycle tire. They were tasty though (although I've never eaten a tire so who knows). Lucy wanted steak and kidney pie but she is vegan. Damn you food network for putting terrible ideas into our impressionable minds! I also used boca meat crumbles for the steak portion and the usual suspects in steak and kidney pie. It was 90 degrees outside that day so instead of baking (screw that nonsense) I made a "crust" using honey panko and vegan butter. Lucy said it was delicious. Now I crave the real deal. Bollocks!

Anyways, try new things. Get creative. Have fun but don't stick your face in a hot deep fryer or juggle your chef knives. That would be dangerous. xoxo