Today we’re supposed to be inspired by a cartoon. I don’t fall in love with animation often, but I do recommend the oddly satisfying Aggretsuko on Netflix: Sanrio-produced cute animal-people work in a dreary Tokyo office, where our heroine Retsuko dreams of finding love and deals with stress by secretly performing death metal karaoke.
In the latest season, Retsuko has a new coworker, fresh out of college and an utter pill, whose only redeeming quality is he’s an amazing cook. He’s enlisted to help their office organize a booth for the obligatory “family fun” day at their company, and the crowd delights in his skill–especially with the detail of adding sausage pieces cut to look like octopus.
How could I not be inspired by that? The trick was figuring out what to use for the octopus. I don’t think vegan sausage would fan out like that when cut–and I couldn’t figure out exactly how those processed little sausages were seasoned, anyway (smoke, salt, and…???). My first thought was carving carrots–but that was a failure. Then it came to me: scallions. I kept the white part in tact with its bulbous end, then used kitchen shears to split the green ends a little. Put it in water so they’d spread and curl a bit, like tentacles, then seared so they are actually edible. Tasty, even.
The rest of the dish was far more straightforward. I went with a fairly straightforward technique for stir-fries and fried rice and cooked each component separately so it could be added to the starch and sauce at the end.
Though it made sense to combine some components that worked well to saute together.
The noodles are far more processed than I’d normally choose–and god help me if any of the additives aren’t actually vegan; I did not google–but they were fun to work with for once.
I cooked each serving separately, according to package directions. This was super fast and easy. I made a yakisoba sauce (1/4 recipe) to season everything as it came together.
Once the noodles were loose and seasoned, I added in the cooked veggies–cabbage mixture, mushrooms–and a bit of chopped scallion greens. Wouldn’t want the rest of the octopi to go to waste!
To serve, it went in a bowl with some pan-fried tofu wedges and a seared scallion octopus. And it’s every bit as tasty as I would imagine.