Vegan MoFo

Vegan MoFo Day 15: RAAAAGE!

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.

Above: Octopus-cut scallions hit the pan.

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.

Above: Tree oyster mushrooms, golden brown.

Though it made sense to combine some components that worked well to saute together.

Above: Onion, bell pepper, ginger, garlic, cabbage, and carrot, cooking 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.

Above: Fresh noodles in the package. Didn’t come with sauce, ’cause the sauces were definitely not vegan.

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.

Above: Is there a sight better than noodles?

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!

Above: The final countdown…to dinner.

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.

Above: Delicious!
Vegan MoFo

Vegan MoFo Day 10: ¡Dale!

Today we’re taking inspiration from a favorite show. I have a lot of favorite shows, but for this I chose the Netflix revival of One Day at a Time, focused on a Cuban-American family in Los Angeles. I wanted to do this even before hearing the news that Pop TV picked it up for a much-deserved fourth season, but now it’s all the more reason to scream from the mountaintops: Watch this perfect little show!! OK. On to the food.

Obviously I had to attempt a Cuban dish. Something Lydia might’ve made in an attempt to appease Elena whenever she insists she’s gone vegan, but not without a significant amount of side eye. Something Lupe would’ve been skeptical of trying and Alex would’ve teased his sister about. Something Schneider would’ve overenunciated in Spanish. You know. Mushroom ropa vieja.

Above: Tree oyster mushrooms fill the pot.

The recipe I found called for king oyster mushrooms, or trumpet mushrooms, but we got a deal on a giant sack of tree oyster mushrooms at the market, and I figured that would definitely have an intriguingly meaty texture in this dish.

Above: It also released a lot of liquid. Neat!

The dish came together easily and smelled fantastic. It even got me to eat green olives. I am not a fan of olives.

Above: Olive you so much.

To make a complete meal out of this, we cooked some rice (brown basmati; I’m sure Lydia would never approve, but we like it) and black beans with a quickie sofrito. Also a killer-smelling pot of food.

Above: Black beans, tomato, and sofrito.

So, without further ado…

A plate of food!

Above: Made with love.
Food Blog

Curry laksa with oyster mushrooms

This week I actually planned ahead – at least three meals from recipes I haven’t tried before, using some ingredients I don’t normally cook with. Tonight it’s laksa, a (typically nonvegan) Southeast Asian specialty featuring a rich curry broth with rice noodles and herbs. I followed the recipe from Vegan Eats World, so it’s probably more “inspired by” than anything, but I did make everything from scratch.

The first layer in the soup bowl is gently wilted and very roughly chopped baby bok choy flowers and tops. Very tender greens and stems. I nuked it briefly to help it cook quickly once the hot broth hit it.

Next we add rice noodles. Continuing my tendency to evade “authenticity,” I opted for some forbidden rice ramen-style noodles, which are a beautiful purple color and nice texture.

Then I added slices of pan-fried tofu. The recipe calls for tofu puffs, but I had really nice fresh tofu, so I just cooked it up so it’d at least get a bit of a ‘puffy’ crust.

Bean sprouts are a necessary last minute addition. Actually, the recipe suggested napa cabbage as an alternative, which keeps a lot better, but strangely enough, I didn’t see any at the market.

After the soup has simmered for a while, it’s ladled over all of the above. Bright yellow and rich with coconut milk and aromatics, plus the oyster mushrooms.

Topped with chopped cilantro and mint, because that makes everything better. Unless you hate cilantro, I guess.

The recipe didn’t call for it, but I added a quick squeeze of lime juice to my bowl. It’s nice and spicy and chewy and crunchy. I bet the broth will taste better tomorrow–if there’s any left…