Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Drunken Eye of the Goat

Drunken Eye of the Goat beans

Happy New Year!  I am posting a recipe for Drunken Eye of the Goat.  No, I am not crazy and eating goat's eyes....ha ha....I am still a vegetarian.    Eye of the Goat is an heirloom bean.  My hubby got a super awesome gift from his boss for Christmas.  It was a bag with  4 packages of heirloom beans and a bottle of New Mexico Chili Powder from Rancho Gordo, Napa Valley, California.  You can order on-line from this company or look for their products at a farmers market or any specialty store listed here.  One type of the heirloom beans we received was the 1 lb. Eye of the Goat or Ojo de Cabra beans.   I was racking my brain and searching for recipes to make something out of these beans.

Finally, I decided that the Eye of the Goat beans are similar to pinto beans.  I decided to make 'Drunken Beans' and came out with the recipe below.  The word 'drunken' also came to my mind since it is close to New Year (not that I am going to be drunk eating this bean dish).  These beans were cooked in beer (can be non-alcoholic).  Hence, we found out that it is also good to eat this dish with a bottle of beer (maybe that's how people got drunk eating this dish, ha!). 

One thing that is really important is to SOAK the dry beans overnight.  Here is a picture of the Eye of the Goat beans after soaking overnight.  This heirloom bean doesn't come in uniform sizes.  One bean can be smaller than the other.  It is kind of odd looking bean and kind of pretty too.

Soaked Eye of the Goat beans

Drunken Eye of the Goat
Serve: 6-8
I used a slow-cooker but a slow cooking method on the stove can be done also.

1 lb. Eye of the Goat beans or regular pinto beans, dry
1 piece of kombu, 2 by 3 inches
Note:  This is for cooking the bean, to add nutrients and improve digestibility i.e. reduce intestinal gas
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 Tbsp. minced garlic
6 slices Veggie Bacon (I use Lightlife Smart Bacon), chopped in small pieces
1 tsp. Chipotle chili powder (can use 1/2 tsp for less spicy)
1 tsp. New Mexican Red Chili Powder
Note:  you can buy any New Mexico red chili powder in hispanic market
1 tsp. Smoked Paprika
3 tsp. dried oregano leaves
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. canola oil + 2 tsp. sesame oil or 4 tsp. canola oil
12 oz. (a bottle) beer (can be non-alcoholic)
10 oz. Ro-Tel (diced tomatoes with green chilies in a can), include the juice
Note:  you can use any other diced tomatoes with green chilies.  It's just that I like to use this smaller can of diced tomatoes for the beans.
 1 cup vegetable broth or broth from cooking beans
salt to taste   
Note: I was very careful with the salt since the  veggie bacon, ro-tel, and vegetable broth have a lot of salt in it already.  I  used just about 1/2 tsp salt.  Please taste first before adding more salt..

Sauteed onions, garlic, veggie bacon, and spices
  1. First and foremost, SOAK the beans overnight (as I mentioned above).
  2. Drain the soaked beans and place in a  pot, add water so that the water level is about 1/2 inch above the beans.  Add the kombu into it.  Do not add salt to the water.  Heat in high temperature.  When it starts boiling, start your timer and turn down to a simmer for 20 minutes.  Turn it off and set aside.
  3.  While the beans are simmering, saute onions, garlic, and chopped veggie bacon in medium high for 5 minutes.
  4. Add chipotle powder, New Mexican Red Chili Powder, Smoked Paprika, dried oregano leaves, and ground cumin.  Saute for another 10 minutes in a low heat.  Set aside and turn off the heat. 
  5. Prepare your slow cooker or cooking pot.  Drain beans (save the bean cooking water) and place them in the ceramic bowl of your slow cooker or the cooking pot.  Add the Ro-Tel tomatoes and beer.  Then, add the sauted veggie bacon, onions, garlic, and spices mixture.  Combine thoroughly.
  6. Pour some of the bean broth or vegetable broth over your pan to pick up or scrape the bits and pieces of onions or veggie bacon that stuck to the pan. 
  7. Add enough vegetable broth or bean cooking broth to cover the beans (I added about 1 cup). 
  8. Do not add salt  at this time but simmer this mixture until beans are tender.  If using a slow cooker, cook 6 hours on high or 8 - 10 hours on low.
  9. When beans are tender, taste for salt and add as necessary.
  10. Finally, I use a potato masher  to smash the beans (I only do it about 10 times) but do not smash all of them so some beans are still whole and some are smashed.  Then stir to combine.  This is a trick I use when cooking beans so that the beans are creamier and the bean flavor comes out to the pot liquor(bean broth).   But some people like their beans whole.  If you are those people, you can omit this step.
I can say that this is the BEST bean dish I have ever cooked.   We ate it with soy chicken mole.  Serving it, I started with warm and soft corn tortilla, add drunken beans on top, add soy chicken mole, and topped with fresh sliced avocado.  I served it with a side salad and a bottle of beer (red ale O'Doul).  It was really YUMMO!  You can also serve it with hot cornbread and a side salad or even brown rice (rice and beans is the perfect meal).

Drunken beans topped with soy chicken mole and avocado

 I would like to thank hubby's boss for this treat, for teaching us about heirloom beans, and for showing us the website where to buy them.  We both thoroughly enjoyed this dish.  It was the best Christmas gift we received this year.  I didn't know that heirloom beans can be so good.  If you are into beans, I recommend visiting this Rancho Gordo site  and read all about heirloom beans.  They are pretty interesting, pretty to look, and delicious. Other than the Eye of the Goat, we received 1 lb. each of Ayocote NEGRO (Black Runner Beans)Good Mother Stallard beans, and Runner Cannellini beans.   Anyone has any idea or recipe to cook them?  Let me know and I will blog it.  :-)

    Saturday, November 19, 2011

    Sambal Tomat(Spicy Javanese Tomato Sambal)

    Sambal Tomat
    I grew up eating sambal and still have the habit of using this condiment when I eat Asian dishes (especially Indonesian dishes).  It's basically, like the use ketchup in the US, Indonesians eat sambal with everything.

    The description of sambal in wikipedia:

    Sambal is a chili based sauce which is normally used as a condiment. Sambals are popular in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the southern Philippines and Sri Lanka, as well as in the Netherlands and in Suriname through Javanese influence. It is typically made from a variety of chili peppers and is sometimes a substitute for fresh chilis. It can be extremely spicy for the uninitiated. Some ready-made sambals are available at exotic food markets or gourmet departments in supermarkets in many countries.

    The West has just incorporated sambal in their cooking.  The most popular one in the US that is used in Food Network TV and by well known chefs is Sambal Oelek.   Oelek means grinding or pounding. According to Wiki:  Oelek is a Dutch spelling which in modern Indonesian spelling has become simply ulek; both have the same pronunciation. Ulek is Indonesian special stoneware derived from common village basalt stone kitchenware still ubiquitous in kitchens, particularly in Java.

    Traditionally, to make sambal, Javanese use a mortar and pestle like this one to grind or ulek the ingredients.

    There are all kinds of sambals and this blog is only talking about one of the varieties, the vegetarian kind: sambal tomat (with tomatoes).  The basic ingredients of sambals are fresh hot red or green chillies, shallots, garlic, salt, and something sour like lime, lemon, tamarind, or vinegar and something sweet may be added, too.  Then, other ingredients are added to it which can be several vegetarian ingredients such as small eggplants, watercress, nuts, or fruit OR non-vegetarian ingredients such as shrimp, anchovies, or meat.  For example, I  blogged about Sambal 'Udang' ('Shrimp' Chili Paste) in the past (without the real shrimp, of course, but I added dulse flakes or nori flakes to create the 'seafoody' flavor).

    Sambal Oelek is vegetarian but this is not the most popular kind in Indonesia.  The most popular sambal in Java is Sambal Terasi or Sambal Bajak.  Those contain terasi/belachan or shrimp paste.  If you are a vegetarian and would like to buy a bottle of sambal in an Asian market, please check the label for shrimp paste or anchovies first.
    Sambal Tomat ingredients from left, clockwise: shallots, garlic cloves, tomatoes, New Mexico Chili (reconstituted), dark palm sugar, tamarind pulp, red Thai Chili (Bird's Eye chili), no shrimp paste.

    I love making my own sambal instead of buying a bottle from the Asian market because it tastes better home made.  DH also prefers my home made sambal instead of the bottled Sambal Oelek.  I also don't have to worry about reading the label to find out if the sambal is vegetarian or not.  Also, to be honest, I admit that I cannot eat HOT or EXTREMELY SPICY sambal anymore.  The level of heat that I can take has reduced after years living in the US.  By making my own sambal, I can control how many chili I can put into the sambal.  Therefore, the recipe below is not that hot.  I added New Mexico or California Chili to retain the red hot color but they reduce the heat level.  It looks red and hot but it is not.    It is a little bit on the sweet side also because of the ripe tomatoes, New Mexico chili,  and dark palm sugar.

    Sambal Tomat (Spicy Javanese Tomato Sambal)

    2 cups chopped ripe tomatoes (about 2 to 3 tomatoes)
    3 Dry New Mexico or California Chili
    5 red Thai Peppers or Bird's Eye Chili  (add more to raise the heat level)
    6 shallots, peeled
    12 garlic cloves, peeled
    1 tsp. salt
    2 tsp. canola oil
    2 Tbsp. palm sugar or dark brown sugar
    1/2 inch cube tamarind pulp or juice of 1 small lime
    1/8 tsp. white pepper
    1 tsp. white miso (optional)

    1. Remove the stems and seeds from the New Mexico or California chillies and then soak them in hot water.  Put a bowl on top to push down the chilis  (tend to float up) into the hot water so that they stay immersed.  This will take about 10-15 minutes.  Drain the softened chillies, but reserve the water.
    2. Soak tamarind pulp into 1/4 hot water, set aside.
    3. Chop the shallots, garlic, and Thai peppers into 1/4-inch pieces.  Be very careful when chopping Thai Chili by using gloves or wash your hands right away
    4. Put chili, shallots, garlic, and salt in a mini chopper/food processor or a mortar and pestle.  If using a food processor, use the pulsing method.  The texture needs to be roughly chopped instead of smooth like a paste.  I like using a mortar and pestle  and pound the ingredients since it produces the roughly ground texture(ulek).  However, a food processor with pulsing method gives generally the same texture.
    5. If you have a mortar and pestle, you can use it.  Otherwise, a food processor will do.
    6. Using a wok or frying pan, on a medium heat, stir fry the ground chili, shallots, garlic, and salt  mixture with the canola oil.  Keep stirring the ingredients for about 10 minutes.  Be patience with this process since the long stir frying of spices is the key to delicious result.  If the mixture sticks to the pan, add a little of the reserved chili soaking water (not too much that the mixture is soupy).
    7. Add the chopped tomatoes, again, stir fry for about 10 minutes until tomatoes are disintegrated.  Add just a little chili soaking water if the mixture sticks to the pan.
    8. Add palm sugar/brown sugar, soften tamarind pulp (check seeds and remove) and the tamarind soaking water OR juice of 1small lime, and white pepper.  Combine and stir fry 5 more minutes until the mixture is thickened.  Taste for more salt if necessary.
    9. Turn off heat and add the optional white miso.  The miso adds the fermented taste to sambal.  It adds more umami to the sambal, too.  Combine thoroughly.  Keep refridgerated for a week in a jar.
    Sambal tomat is good to eat accompanying dry meals meaning a combination of fresh raw vegetables such as fresh sliced cucumbers, sliced tomatoes, raw green beans,  raw cabbage wedges, lettuce pieces, etc. and steamed rice (nasi) plus some kind of  fried food such as fried tempeh, fried tofu, or traditionally fried meat or fish.    Eating raw vegetables with sambal and rice is called lalapan or nasi lalapan.  Then,  fried food is added to it.  The idea is to dip the fried food or fresh veggie into the sambal and then eat it with the steamed rice.  I served lalapan (with raw fresh veggies) with Nasi Gudeg as a dry meal in the previous blog.  DH loves lalapan with my fresh sambal tomat.  He is an American born who learned to enjoy Indonesian meals.

    The tamarind block I bought from Asian market.  If it is wrapped in plastic tightly and store in a room temperature, it lasts many months.  Every time I need it, I just cut a small chunk and soak the pulp in a hot water.

    Saturday, November 12, 2011

    Vegan Gudeg(Javanese Young Jack Fruit Curry with Tofu and Tempeh)

    Gudeg with Tempeh and Tofu (the triangle shapes on the left)
    This is  Indonesian Young Jack Fruit Curry called Gudeg.  It is a famous and traditional dish from Yogyakarta, Central Java.  The color and looks of it is not that appetizing and fools people to pass it by in a potluck.  Hence, Javanese will recognize it right away and will dig into it.  The savory aroma of the dish itself will attract people to try it.  It contains coconut milk, palm sugar, and spices such as coriander, cumin, galanga, tamarind, Indian bay leaves, and candlenuts or kemiri.  I served this dish with sambal tomat (spicy tomato chutney), tomato and cucumber slices, and rice on a bright yellow plate to make it more appetizing.

    Yogyakarta is a city near Borobudur, a world known Buddhist temple built in 9th century.  Tourists stop by and stay at Yogyakarta so they can visit Borobudur.   Most of them will have the chance to try Gudeg.  Traditionally,  this dish contains chicken, boiled eggs, and young jack fruit.  I decided to veganize it by using tofu and tempeh.  It is served with steamed long grain rice or nasi (in Indonesian).  We always call it Nasi Gudeg  when ordering in a restaurant.

    Cooking Gudeg may take hours and hours on a very low heat and it may take days.  The spices and coconut milk need to be absorbed into the ingredients and Javanese will cook the gudeg until the young jack fruit turn dark brown and that the dish is dry.  Although some people prefer it more saucey (it is optional  to add more coconut milk or broth).  I don't have time to cook Gudeg for hours and hours on a stove and afraid to leave the curry cooking on a stove unattended.   I modernized the cooking method by using a crock-pot.  It took about 14 HOURS and I had to suffer the long hours smelling the savory aroma that made me hungry.

    I only can get the young jack fruit in a can in an Asian and Indian market.   We share similar ingredients with Indian cooking so most of the time I can go to a small neighborhood Indian market to find the ingredients.  I can buy young jack fruit, tamarind pulp, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, shallots, bay leaves, and coconut milk in an Indian market.  However, palm sugar, candlenuts or kemiri, and galanga may only be available in other Asian markets such as Chinese, Thai, or Vietnamese.  You may substitute palm sugar with dark brown sugar, candlenuts or kemiri with macadamia nuts, and order galanga powder from an on-line market if you cannot find it fresh (use sparingly about  1/2 to 1 tsp of powder).  BTW, galanga is not the same as ginger.

    Below are pictures of young jack fruit and tamarind pulp:
    Young Jack Fruit in a can soaked in brine
    Tamarind sold as in block or pulp wrapped tightly  in plastic

    Here are Gudeg Spices:
    From left corner, clockwise: Shallots, Bay Leaves, Coriander Seeds, Cumin Seeds, Dark Palm Sugar, Galanga, Tamarind Pulp, Candlenuts or Kemiri, and Garlic cloves in the middle

    Vegan Gudeg( Javanese Young Jack Fruit Curry with Tofu and Tempeh) 


    2 cans (20 oz each) Young Jack Fruit, drained, rinsed, and squeezed water out
    8 oz super firm tofu, cut into triangle or rectangle shape
    8 oz tempeh, cut into triangle or rectangle shape
    2 cups coconut milk or light coconut milk

    5 shallots, peeled
    10 candlenuts or kemiri
    10 garlic cloves
    1 Tbsp. coriander seeds
    1/2 Tbsp. cumin seeds
    3/4 tsp. salt
    1/4 cup palm sugar or brown sugar
    1 inch square tamarind pulp, soaked in 1/3 hot water until soft
    2 slices galanga or laos (1 inch slice each)
    2 Indian bay leaves

    1. Toast the coriander and cumin seeds on a low heat  in a dry frying pan for 1-2 minute or until fragrant.  Keep stirring to avoid burning.  Set aside.
    2. Slice jack fruit, lengthwise, following the grain. Set aside.
    3. Put shallots, garlic, candlenuts or kemiri,  toasted coriander and cumin seeds,  and salt in a mini food processor or blender.  Add a little water or vegetable oil and process until it becomes a paste.
      Note: Traditionally, this is done in a mortar and pestle.
    4.  Stir fry the spice paste in a wok or frying pan on a medium heat.  Keep stirring and add water or oil if it starts to stick to the pan.  This process takes about 10 minutes (it is similar process when frying the spice paste in Korean Mushroom and Tofu Stew).  Eventually, the spice paste turns a bit darker and it also becomes aromatic.
    5. Add coconut milk, palm sugar, bay leaves, galanga and tamarind water and softened tamarind pulps (check for seeds and remove).  Stir to combine and let it simmer.
    6. Add tofu and tempeh into the curry sauce and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.
    7. Take tofu and tempeh out of the curry sauce and place them on the bottom of the crock-pot.
    8. Then, add cut up young jack fruit  on top of them and, finally,  on top, spread all of the curry sauce including the herbs.  Set crock-pot on LOW and let it cook for 12-14 hours.  You can stir it once but I recommend keeping the lid closed during the cooking process.
    9. Serve with long grain steamed rice.
    Cutting up young jack fruit
    Stir frying spice paste
    Simmering tofu and tempeh in curry sauce

    Wednesday, November 02, 2011

    Vegan Korean Mushrooms and Tofu Stew

    Vegan Korean Mushrooms and Tofu Stew (with Kabocha Squash)
    I am blogging about a Korean dish again!  There is a story behind this dish.  A few years ago, Jay andJulie Hasson took me to a Korean restaurant in Beaverton, OR.  I forgot the name of that little restaurant.  There was only 1 vegan item they can serve us which is a spicy tofu stew/hot pot.  We ate it with rice and I remember that it was red but it was not that spicy.  It was so delicious that it stuck in my mind.

    So when recently, I discovered Vegan 8 Korean blog, I perused the recipes that Sunnie blogged and this stew looks like that one I ate at the Korean restaurant years ago.  The Korean name of this dish is hard to pronounce:  Dubu-Busut Jeongol (Vegan 8 Korean recipe).  I did more research and found out that Jeongol means 'stew' or 'hot pot' that can be cooked on top of a butane stove on the dining table in a family gathering.  There are all kinds of Jeongol so the ingredients are interchangeable.  Dubu means tofu and busut is mushroom.
    As Sunnie was saying in her blog, it looks red but it is not very spicy so don't be afraid!  That reminds me of what I ate in that Korean restaurant years ago.  It was not that spicy, it was red, but it was flavorful.  When I first tried this recipe, I used King Oyster Mushroom  which started to pop up in Asian markets around my house.  Apparently, DH didn't really like this kind of mushrooms since it is chewy.  I decided to change the ingredients by using the fresh softer oyster mushrooms, golden (brown) enoki mushrooms, and shitake mushrooms.  I also didn't have soy bean sprouts but had some fresh spinach leaves.  DH said that he liked it better the 2nd time I made it with these ingredients.  One thing for sure about this dish is that it is EASY and FAST to make.  It is also HEALTHY.

    I also learned using Perilla Oil in cooking this stew.  It is apparently rich of omega-3 fatty acid and alpha-linolic acid (ALA).  So I am excited of using this oil in my Korean dish (Perila oil can be found in Korean market).  You can always use sesame oil if you can't find perilla oil.

    Below is a version of my Korean Jeongol.  I used more kelp powder since I like the 'seafoody' flavor.  You are welcome to reduce the amount.

    Vegan Korean Mushrooms and Tofu Stew/Hot Pot
    Serve 6-8

    1 pkg. or 14.5 oz firm tofu, sliced
    1 1/2 cup fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
    1 pkg. or 8 oz fresh enoki mushroom, torn up to pieces
    2 large onion, sliced
    1 cup packed fresh baby spinach
    2 scallions, chopped
    3 cups of vegetable broth (I use mushroom seasoning broth or vegan chiknish), 1 cup more if using the optional Kabocha Squash
    salt, if needed and if the veg broth is not salty enough.
    Optional: 1 to 1 1/2 slices of Kabocha Squash, seeded and peeled

    1 Tbsp. soy sauce
    1 Tsp. kelp powder
    2 Tbsp. Korean Chili Pepper or Gochugaru (can be reduced to 1 Tbsp to reduce spicyness)
    3/4 Tbsp. sugar
    1 Tbsp. minced garlic

    2 Tbsp. Perrilla oil (or sesame oil if you can't find perrilla)

    1. Put sliced tofu on the bottom of the hot pot or heavy cast iron pot (as pictured above)
      Add onions over tofu then add all of the mushrooms over the onions.
      Stir frying seasoning until fragrant.
      In a heavy wok on a medium heat, add perilla oil, then kelp powder, soy sauce, Korean pepper powder, sugar and garlic (all seasonings ingredients).  Stir fry for 10 minutes.  Yes, really that long while stirring it to avoid sticking.  According to Sunnie this will break down the powder and make the seasoning smooth in the broth.  After a few minutes, you'll notice that it creates a savory fragrant.
    4. Add the combined seasonings and vegetable broth into the pot of tofu, onions, and mushrooms.  I only used 3 cups broth(or 4 cups if using Kabocha Squash) and it looks like that it is too little and it is barely there but actually after simmering all the mushrooms will shrink.  Cover and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. 
    5. If using Kabocha squash slices, put them in after 10 minutes of simmering. At the end of 20 minutes, add baby spinach and simmer for another 1-2 minutes. Taste and add salt as needed.  When serving, add chopped scallions on top. 

    Serve this stew with my perfect brown rice and vegan furikake.  It's a great comfort stew in a cool Fall or Winter day!

    Monday, October 31, 2011

    Korean Stir-fried Glass Noodle (Vegan Japchae)

    I love this dish!  I was first introduced to it in a potluck before I became a vegetarian.  I didn't know the name of the dish but I knew I liked it.  Then, after I became a vegetarian, I saw this dish at Korean markets, packaged in clear plastic containers.  In Korean markets, there is hardly any label or sign in English on the containers.  Again, I still didn't know the name of this dish.  I was afraid to buy it since I was not sure whether beef, shrimp, or chicken broth was used in the cooking process. 

    This year I encountered a vegan Korean blog(the one and only, I think): The Vegan 8 Korean.  I love this blog and recommend it to you to check it out if you like Korean dishes.  Voila!  I saw the recipe of the mystery dish and tried it.  It was very good!  This dish is called Japchae.  It is a dish that Koreans brought to parties, potlucks, and community events. The glass noodle is made of sweet potato flour and this kind of noodle is called Dangmyun (as pictured). 

    Now, I really appreciate that Sunnie from The Vegan 8 Korean took a picture of the Dangmyun.  Otherwise, I would not have known how to find it in the Korean market.  As I said, usually, there is no translation on Korean products so I am often at lost trying to find the ingredient. As you can see there is no English name on the package although there is a picture of the dish  on the package which helped.
    This is different than the Chinese Bean Thread noodle or cellophane noodle that is made of mung bean starch.  The Dangmyun is thicker and stronger.

    I also didn't understand why Sunnie stir fried each vegetable individually after each vegetable is cut into matchsticks.   I thought that it will be quicker to do them all together.   I did more research on Japchae and found out the reason from this blog: Herbivoracious who invited a friend, Alice of Savory Sweet Life, to blog about vegetarian Japchae.  She says the following about stir frying each vegetable individually:

    "My mother taught me the importance of making sure to stir-fry each ingredient individually.  One could easily be tempted to add all the vegetables at once and fry them together.  But by frying them individually, the flavor and color of each vegetable is preserved without any cross blending of the other ingredients.  As a result, the frying pan becomes more seasoned as layers of umami build on each other.  The final dish is a beautiful medley of noodles, colorful vegetables, and tofu. From an aesthetic point of view jap chae is one of the most beautiful dishes in Korean cuisine."

    Right on!  Thanks Alice for the tip.   I agree that this dish is colorful and umami-ful.    I also learned that by reading blogs, I can learn a lot about cooking and ethnicity of a dish.  It is so much fun!

    Below is my version of Japchae with Soy Curls.  It is optional for using soy curls. I often make this dish without soy curls, but I think by now, vegetarians and vegans should all learn about how great Soy Curls can be.

    Vegan Japchae with Soy Curls (Korean Stir-Fried Glass Noodle)

    1/2 pkg. or 4 oz Soy Curls ,soaked in 1 1/4 cup hot water
    1 Tbsp. veg broth powder (preferrably not salty one like Chiknish)
    2 Tbsp. Hoisin Sauce or Teriyaki sauce
    1/2 pkg. or 8.5 oz Dry Sweet Potato Starch Noodle or Dangmyun
    Note:  The package I bought is 17.5 oz and I used only  half  a package
    1 cup sliced fresh shitake mushroom (I prefer to use fresh but you can use dried shitake mushroom and soaked in hot water for 15-20 minutes)
    1 cup fresh baby spinach
    1 carrot, sliced into matchsticks
    1 red bell pepper medium size, sliced into matchsticks
    1 medium onions, sliced
    4 green onions, sliced
    3 tsp. minced garlic
    salt to sprinkle for each vegetable when stir frying
    1 tsp. soy sauce to cook with shitake mushroom
    5 Tbsp. soy sauce (less sodium kind)
    2 tsp. sugar
    1 tsp. black pepper (freshly ground)
    1 Tbsp. sesame oil
    3 tsp. roasted sesame seeds

    3 tsp. vegetable oil

    1. Prepare soy curls by soaking it in hot water for 10 minutes, squeezed the water out, add chiknish or non-salty veg powder.  Then, add the hoisin sauce or teriyaki sauce to marinade.  Set aside.
    2. Boil the dangmyun in boiling water for 10 minutes.  Drain, pour cold tap water to stop the cooking process.  Then, drain again. Immediately add 5 tablespoon soy sauce, black pepper, and 2 tsp. sugar into the drained glass noodles and combine thoroughly.
    3. If using dried shitake mushroom, soak the mushroom in warm water for 15-20 minutes.
    4. While waiting for soy curls to marinade and noodle to cool, slice the vegetables.  Drain and slice the soaked mushrooms also.
      Stir frying soy curls in my old Chinese wok.
    6. Coat a wok or large frying pan with 1 tsp oil.  Put it on a high heat and start with the soy curls.  When soy curl is dry and brown, remove from wok and set aside.
    7. Add onions to the wok. Sprinkle with a little salt, stir fry for 4-5 minutes until translucent.  Remove from wok.  Set aside.  Repeat this process each separately with carrot, red bell pepper, spinach, and green onions.  Everytime, sprinkle a little salt and stir fry until vegetables are cooked.  Add a little water if vegetable sticks to the wok.  You will notice that brown bits are forming in your wok and loosen up when you add water.  That actually adds flavor to the veggies.  When stir frying the sliced mushrooms, add the 1 tsp. soy sauce instead of salt.  Combine and set aside all cooked vegetables onto a large plate.
      This is what the cooked vegetable looks like when combined together.
    9. Add the rest of the oil (2 tsp.) to the hot wok.  Then, add the minced garlic, stir fry for 1 minute until fragrant, keep stirring to avoid burning.
    10. Add the vegetables, soy curls, and seasoned noodles back to the wok and combine well. Stir fry for a few minutes until noodles are heated through.
    11. Turn off heat.  Add sesame oil, stir, and combine well.  Sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds when serving.
    All ingredients combined together and stir fried.
    This noodle dish is good at room temperature too.  It is a great dish to bring to a potluck.  DH brought this dish to his potluck at work and he didn't have to reheat it before serving it.  He said that people at his work loved it and a few asked for the recipe.
    The Koreans also serve this dish as Banchan which are dishes in small plates (such as tapas) that are served with cooked/steamed rice.  Most of these dishes on small plates are served in room temperature also.
    This will be the next dish I will bring to a potluck at work.

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    5-Colors Bowl and Vegan Furikake

    This bowl is inspired by my recent trip to Portland, OR.  I was brought to Cafe Yum by my friends Yongkie and Pokie.   The bowl that I ate at Cafe Yum, Jazzy bowl, was good but I thought the sauce was kind of too rich.   Then, Yongkie offered to make similar bowl at his home and he made Miso Ginger sauce instead of the rich sauce at Cafe Yum.  I like the bowl he served me.  The sauce was lighter and sweeter than what I had in Cafe Yum.  He served brown rice topped with black beans, chopped tomatoes, black olives, avocado, onion, and cilantro. It was yummy! Of course, later on I visited Native Bowl and ate more bowls of goodness (Couch Bowl and Mississippi Bowl).   I love 'the bowl' concept and was first introduced to it by visiting Native Foods where I tried Soul Bowl, Gandhi Bowl, Hollywood Bowl, etc.

    The concept of a bowl is to have some kind of grain, protein, vegetables, seeds/nuts, other savory toppings, and sauce in one bowl.  The grain can be brown rice, quinoa, bulghur, millets, coucous, or any other grain.  The protein can be tofu, tempeh, all kind of beans,  and seitan.  You can use your imagination what kind of vegetables to put in your bowl, there are plenty.  The vegetables can be raw, steamed or roasted.   Any kind of roasted or raw seed /nuts can be added into the bowl.   Now, the secret is in the SAUCE!

    5-Colors ingredients.
     I came up with this 5-colors bowl because I think that when we eat, we start with our eyes.  If the food is colorful, it is appetizing.  This bowl is colorful, fresh, and healthy.  The 5 colors are yellow, red, green, black, and brown.   I also think that this is an Asian Fusion dish which means that there are some Asian elements in it such as Adzuki beans, Sticky brown rice, Miso ginger sauce and Furikake.  Asian dish usually doesn't incorporate avocado, chopped tomatoes, and black olives such as a Mexican dish.  I can say that this is Japanese Mexican dish? Below is my own Miso Ginger Sauce recipe to go with the colorful bowl.

    Miso Ginger Sauce

    2 tsp. canola oil
    1Tbsp.  fresh grated ginger
    1/4 water
    1/4 rice vinegar
    1/4 white miso
          Note:  I use South River Organic Chickpea Miso
    2 Tbsp. Hon Mirin
    1 Tbsp. Agave Nectar
    1 tsp. sesame oil
    Optional: to thicken the sauce mix 2 tsp Mochiko Sweet Rice Flour with 1 tbsp water, add the to sauce, simmer for 1 minute.

    1. Heat oil in a small sauce pan, then, add the fresh grated ginger.  Saute for a few minutes until fragant.
    2. Add water, rice vinegar, and white miso.  Using a whisk, mix it together until miso is breaking down and sauce is simmering.  Simmer for 2 minutes.  If a thicker sauce is preferred, you can add the rice flour and water mixture to thicken it.
    3. Take it off heat, add mirin, agave nectar, and sesame oil.  Note: Since my miso is not smooth, I use a hand blender (stick blender) to mix the sauce together into a smooth light brown sauce.  Some miso is already smooth and this step is not necessary.
    5-Colors Bowl (makes 4 bowls)

    3-4 cups steamed brown rice ( I use My Perfect Brown Rice for this recipe)
    2 cups steamed Butternut Squash (cubed)
               Note:  I bought cubed and peeled butternut squash from Trader Joe's as a shortcut. 
    1 can 15 oz. cooked Adzuki Beans
    1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
    1 avocado, peeled, sliced/chopped, about 1 cup
       Note:  I happen to buy an organic Reed Avocado (pictured above)
    1 small 8 oz.  sliced black olives
    3 green onions/scallions, chopped
    Miso Ginger Sauce (recipe above)
    Vegan Furikake (recipe below), optional 
       Note: if you don't like seaweed, you can add toasted sesame seeds only, brown or black.

      Drizzle the Miso Ginger Sauce on top of rice.
    1. Scoop about 1 cup of steamed rice onto a bowl and drizzle with Miso Ginger sauce.
    2. Add 1/4 cup cubed steamed butternut squash, adzuki beans, chopped tomatoes, sliced/chopped avocado, and sliced black olives.
    3. Drizzle with more sauce.
    4. Top with chopped scallions and vegan furikake(optional).
    5. 5-Colors Bowl with Miso Ginger Sauce, all mixed together.

    This bowl has all kind of flavors: sweet, tangy, hearty, fresh, and salty.  The furikake adds 'seafoody' flavor to it, too.

    Furikake  (Japanese rice seasonings) usually contains shaved bonito (fish flakes) if you buy it commercially at a Japanese market.  It also may contain MSG (monosodium glutamate).  I make it myself at home to avoid these ingredients.  If you like seaweed and sushi, usually, you'll like furikake.  Below is my vegan furikake recipe:

    Vegan Furikake
    1 tsp. sugar
    1/2 Tbsp. Vegetarian Seasoning (Mushroom Seasoning, pictured below)
     Note: Mushroom seasoning can be bought at Asian markets.  Nowadays,  it is hard to find one that has no MSG in it.  I particularly like this brand which contains no MSG, not too salty,  and also vegan.  If you cannot find mushroom seasoning, you can use nutritional yeast or your favorite dry vegan broth powder.

    2 Tbsp.  Toasted Sesame Seeds (or more if you like)
    3-4  large Toasted Seaweed (seaweed sheet for making sushi) or Seasoned Seaweed Lavers (Korean seaweed snacks, cut into large pieces
    Salt to taste
    Note: Some mushroom seasoning or broth powder has a lot of salt.  You may want to taste first before adding salt.

    1. Combine sugar, veg. broth powder, sesame seeds, seaweed pieces in a DRY food processor.
    2. Pulse or run food processor until seaweed is broken into tiny pieces.  The mixture should be dry(pictured below).  Store in a dry and tight container such as a glass jar, a tight tupperware, or a dry spice jar for an easy sprinkle.
    I often have a snack of seaweed laver, topped with steamed brown rice,  steamed veggie (in this case it was some butternut squash) and sprinkled with my vegan furikake.  Roll it up like a sushi!

    Friday, October 14, 2011

    Leeky Lentil Vegetable Soup

    One boring day I was watching a Food TV Network show Barefoot Contessa with Ina Garten.  She was cooking Lentil Vegetable soup with a lot of onions and leeks.  It looks so good that I was inspired to veganize it.  It was not hard to do that.  We love this soup so much that I made it twice now.

    DH told me that when he was heating the soup at work, co-workers gave comments of how delicious the aroma of this soup.  I think that the sauteed leeks and onions gave that aroma.  I would like to share my own veganized version.  This soup is filling, warm, hearty, and was easy to make.

    Leeky Lentil Vegetable Soup

    1 1/2 cup dry green/brown lentils
    1 white/brown onion, about 2 cups diced
    1 large leek, white part only, about 2.5 cups diced
       Note: Clean leeks thoroughly by submerging them in cold water and swish around to get rid of all the dirt
    1 Tbsp. minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
    1 Tbsp. olive oil
    1 tsp. dried thyme leaves or 1 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme
    1 tsp. ground cumin
    1 1/2 cup diced celery
    1 1/2 cup diced carrots
    7 cups vegetarian chicken stock
       Note:  I use Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base by Superior Touch  
    1 can or 15 oz organic diced tomatoes
    1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
    2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar or red wine

    1. Cover dry lentils with enough boiling water (water is about 1 inch above the lentils) in a bowl.  Set it aside for at least 15 minutes.  This allow lentils to soften.
    2. Dice vegetables: onions, leeks, celery, and carrots.
    3.  In a stockpot, saute onions, leeks, and garlic in the olive oil.
    4. Add spices: thyme, cumin, and black pepper, continue to saute about 15 minutes until vegetables are translucent and tender.
    5. Add celery and carrots and saute 10 more minutes.
    6. Add vegetable stock and lentils.  Cover and bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes or until lentils are cooked through.
    7. Add the diced tomatoes including the juice.  Simmer 10 more minutes.
    8. Turn off the heat, check for salt.  Since I am using a salted vegetarian broth, usually, I don't need to add more salt.  I leave it up to you to judge how much salt to add, if any.
    9. Lastly,  add the red wine vinegar or red wine.  Serve it hot with whole grain bread or roll.
    Fall is here and I think it is soup time!

    My Perfect Brown Rice

    This is my perfect brown rice.  I have been trying to cook this kind of brown rice since I discovered it in a vegan Vietnamese restaurant and finally I got the recipe.  This is a perfect brown rice to eat with Asian dishes (Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Cambodian) if you want to avoid eating white rice.  For an Indian, American, or Middle Eastern dish, I still prefer the long grain brown basmati or regular long or short grain brown rice.

    I discovered what I called 'my perfect brown rice'  when we started dining at Thuyen Vien, a vegan Vietnamese restaurant in Anaheim, CA.  It's a great restaurant and  it received a high rating at Yelp from vegetarians, vegans, and non-vegetarians customers.  The owners of the restaurant, a husband and wife, Si and Loan(Laura) are great cooks.  I fell in love with their brown rice which looks like the picture above.  He doesn't share restaurant's secret though.  Si just said it is made of 3 kind of rice.  Hmmm....what kind and what is the ratio of the 3?   I have to break the secret (which is challenging in itself) and try and try  a  recipe I created my own.  I  kept combining 3 different kinds of  rice and finally I can resemble what they have.  I think I got it pretty close.  :-)

    This rice is sticky, soft, and aromatic.  Asians like to eat rice with those characteristics.  That is why most of them opt to have white jasmine rice or sweet sticky rice in restaurants.  They like to mold their rice in a bowl and invert it onto a plate like the picture above.  You'll notice some Asian restaurants do it that way, or some put the rice in a big rice container, and some serve it in small rice bowls.  Hence, most of the time the rice is sticky and aromatic.  Since I try not to eat white rice anymore, it is not possible to replace the sticky and aromatic of white Jasmine rice with regular long grain brown rice.  It is not the same.  When eating Asian dishes, I want to have the same characteristics of eating my dish with the white and aromatic Jasmine rice.

    The 3 kinds of rice I use are long grain brown Jasmine rice, sweet brown rice (not short grain brown rice), and red Bhutanese rice or Wehani Rice or Thai Red Rice.    The sweet brown rice adds the stickiness.  The brown Jasmine rice adds the aromatic characteristic.  The red rice adds the nice color to it.  All 3 have awesome nutritional values.  It is much better for your health to eat brown rice than any white rice.  Wehani rice usually costs much more.  I prefer the Thai red rice that I purchased in an Asian market for about $6 per 5 lbs. bag.
    I also purchased an expensive rice cooker to cook them with.   This is my favorite kitchen appliance that I left out on the kitchen counter instead of storing it in the cupboard.  I use it ALL the time since I cook rice every week and sometimes 2 to 3 times a week.  What's great about this rice cooker is that it has 2 timers.  With the timer, I can measure the rice and water in the morning and set the timer so when I get home from work the brown rice is ready to eat.  Cooking brown rice takes about 45 minutes.   This appliance saves me a lot of time.

    Of course, you don't have to buy an expensive rice cooker and can manually cook rice with a pot on stove-top.  Especially, if you don't cook rice all the time.  However, I will recommend that the rice is soaked for about 6-8 hours if you want it soft and sticky.  I measure and put the water in the morning so the rice was soaked in water for about 6 hours before the machine started cooking.

    My Perfect Brown rice

    1/3 cup Long Grain Brown rice
    1/3 cup Sweet Brown Rice (not short grain brown rice)
    1/3 cup Wehani, Bhutanese, or Thai Red Rice
    2 cups of water

    Combine rice in a pot and add water.  Let it soak for about 6-8 hours.
    Turn on heat until water is boiling, turn it down to simmer, and set timer for 45 minutes.
    If you have a rice cooker,  measure 1/3 of each type of rice with your rice cooker measuring cup, add enough water until it reach the 'Brown Rice'  level.  If you have a timer, set the timer.  If you don't, I suggest soaking the rice for 6-8 hours.  Then, click the Start button (it is that easy!).

    I use this rice in a dish I prepared recently.  The rice is in the bottom of the bowl, topped with Korean Pepper Paste sauce (gochujang sauce), pan fried tofu, fresh spinach, shredded carrots, chopped and fresh snap peas, sliced green onions, more sauce, and roasted sesame seeds.  This is called Couch (pronounced Kooch) Bowl from Native Bowl.
    I recently visited Portland, OR and had a chance to try Couch Bowl at Native Bowl.  I like it so much that when I got home I want to replicate the dish and share it with DH.  You can find the recipe of this Couch Bowl hereJulie Hasson is the chef of Native Bowl and was featured in Veg Edge in Cooking Channel by which she presented this delicious bowl. 

    Enjoy My Perfect Brown rice with any Asian dish, Chinese food left over, Thai curry, or Vietnamese stir fry!  When you in Anaheim, CA, please visit Thuyen Vien and let me know if my rice is pretty close to what they have.  Also, try that Couch Bowl at Native Bowl, either visit them in Portland, OR or make it for yourself at home.