I got a hold of some better quality mushrooms and decided to remake the recipe but with some alterations I don't hate carrots but they certainly aren't my favorite vegetable. I was thinking about what I could replace some of them with and a couple of ideas occurred to me.
Daikon is a classic combination with carrots, think banh mi, and readily available. And one of the other members of the Wok Wednesday group mentioned serving their dish with cucumber pickles. So instead of three cups of carrots, I went with a cup of carrots, a cup of daikon and a cup of dill pickles, all julienned.
I really liked the marinaded tofu so I kept that. I enjoyed the dish but I have to admit the pickles probably aren't for everyone. I like the salty, sour note they added along with the little bit of heat from the daikon. I'm quite sure this was not what Grace had in mind for the recipe but hey, if you can't have some fun in the kitchen what's the point?
I can remember when I got my first VCR. I was in college at the time so it must have been the mid-80's. I was a huge fan of Moonlighting and it aired on Tuesday nights. And I had a night class on Tuesdays so I always missed the show. But with the VCR, I could decide when I wanted to watch! It all sounds very old hat today, what with DVRs and streaming video, but at the time, it was revolutionary.
So what does all this have to do with cooking? Well, I just got a new tool for my kitchen. An electric pressure cooker. I've used pressure cookers for years and my mother has used one for as long as I can remember, so I'm no stranger to them. But I've always resisted getting an electric one, figuring I have a perfectly good stove top. Recently however, I found out about a new feature that sold me on them.
Like most of us, I have days where I just really don't have time to cook. Whether it's a doctor's appointment or just a chance to spend some time with an old friend, my time for cooking is used up. I could go and get some fast food, but that's not the healthiest option. And stir frying is certainly quick but there is some prep time involved. Electric pressure cooker to the rescue! They have a timer so I can load the pan up when I have some time and then set the timer so my food is cooked when I return home. And this is also a place where being a vegan comes in handy. As there isn't any meat, eggs or dairy in the food, I don't have as many worries about leaving it out.
Don't worry, this isn't going to turn into a pressure cooker blog, I still love my wok! I've been working on a new Mediterranean stir fry that I hope to present to you later this week. But I do see the pressure cooker as a useful complement to the wok and I'll try to show some ways to make other dishes. After all, variety is the spice of life!
Having to julienne a pound of carrots is not my idea of fun but fortunately technology has come to the rescue. There exists a julienne peeler and I love mine. I use it to help make the pickle for my bahn mi, you can make raw veggie noodles for a fun cross between pasta and salad and, it saved me a lot of time here,
It's a little hard to tell from the picture, but the cutting blade of the peeler is wavy, not straight like a regular peeler. So instead of cutting wide strips it makes thin ones. Genius!
So how was the dish? Well, to be honest, for this dish, you need good mushrooms and to like carrots. Neither one of those applied to me this time out. I tried some new mushrooms from the local mega-mart and you really do get what you pay for. These were like chewing on a bicycle inner tube, Not good. I really need to go back to a speciality supplier.
Not really the recipe's fault but this just wasn't my cup of tea. On to the next Wok Wednesday!
When I first came up with the idea for this, I figured I'd find a recipe online for the corned seitan, fry up some cabbage and potatoes and, badda bing, badda boom, I'm out. It didn't turn out to be quite that simple.
First off, let me say this is a vegan recipe. Most corned beef is made from brisket and, having cooked a number of briskets back in my barbeque days, I don't think stir frying a piece of brisket is going to produce anything edible. If you really wanted to do a corned beef stir fry, I'd suggest starting with a cut of beef more amiable to stir frying, such as a round steak, and try corning that.
I started with the corned seitan recipe found here. Now I've made Chef McCarthy's recipes before and they were fine, but something went horribly wrong with this one. I don't know if I made a mistake or there was a typo in the write up, but the texture was not good. I did like the flavor so I decided to steal the seasoning and put it into one of my regular seitan recipes.
In large bowl, sift the dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix thoroughly. Knead for a couple of minutes to develop the gluten.
Form into a log shape about 6 to 8 inches in length and wrap tightly in foil. Bake for 90 minutes then unwrap and leave out to cool.
The gluten and flour together should be 1½ cups.
I don't eat a lot of potatoes, they're way too carby for a diabetic. So when I do eat them, I'm willing to spend a bit of time and effort making them the best I can. I'm taking my inspiration here from Heston Blumenthal's Triple Cooked Chips. If you've ever seen Heston, you'll know he's not about making things simple, just taste good. I have simplified things a bit, I'm pan frying the potatoes and I'm only cooking them twice.
Place into salted boiling water for about 15 to 20 minutes. The potatoes are done when their edges begin to look rough. Drain.
At this point Heston puts the potatoes into the freezer. I just put mine outside, there's got to be some advantage to living in Indiana in March!. Leave them there for about an hour, the idea is to drive off all the moisture you can.
Heat your wok to the smoking point and swirl the oil in. Use more oil for this than you would for stir frying.
Add the potatoes to the wok and allow to fry for a minute. Stir them around. Repeat until they reach a nice golden color.
Now we can move on to the actual stir fry portion of the program. This is a fairly typical cabbage stir fry, about the only thing I did out of the ordinary was add a bit of hot pepper to jazz things up a bit and add a little color as well. You can use more carrot if you like, carrots are not my favorite vegetable.
Add onion, carrot and pepper, if using. Stir fry for a minute
Add cabbage and stir fry until cabbage is just beginning to show signs of browning, about two minutes.
We're almost done! One last problem though, the seitan, because it's baked, is dry. And there's not much liquid in this dish. I do remember having a mustard-y, horseradish-y sauce when I was in Ireland. So let's see if we can duplicate that. And if this looks a bit like the Banh Mi sauce from earlier, it is.
This is a placeholder for the Wok Wednesday event. The recipe, from Grace Young's Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, calls for baby bok choy. Around here, trying to find any sort of exotic produce is a bit of a crap shoot. And this time I came up snake eyes. All is not lost, I have found baby bok choy before, so I'll keep looking.
Matt hasn't posted the location to find other folk's versions so I'll update this with that information. And hopefully the produce gods will smile upon me so I can include my version as well!
UPDATE: You can find out how other folks did by visiting here.
UPDATE the second: The produce gods found me worthy and I was able to find some baby bok choy. And the delay also allowed me to order some better chili bean paste online.
So, what went right and what went wrong?
Well, first off I replaced the scallops with scallops I made from mushrooms. An apple corer and a few minutes made for a quite acceptable scallop substitute. The sauce was wonderful. About the only thing I could think of to change would be to add a bit of Sichuan pepper. But then I love Sichuan pepper.
So what didn't go so well? Mushrooms can stand quite a bit more cooking time than scallops so next time I'll add the aromatics to the bok choy and pepper instead of the mushrooms. Bluntly, they burnt and I had to stop midway through and remove the burnt bits. Not an ideal stir fry.
I also don't think I trimmed the bok choy enough. Normally I love bok choy for having both a crunchy bit and some lovely greens. In this dish, I don't think the greens were wanted and I should have trimmed them off and saved them for another time.
The final verdict? Another great recipe and a chance to learn more about my favorite cooking technique.
And now I need to find something to do with those mushroom doughnuts I've made. Pate, anyone?
This post is going to be a little different. It doesn't involve a wok or stir frying. In fact, it's as much for my benefit as anything else.
So, still here? Good! For anyone who might not know, banh mi are a kind of Vietnamese sandwich. I make most of the ingredients from scratch so it's pretty much an all-day project for me. As a result, I don't do it very often which usually means I can't remember how I did it last time. So I've decided to share the recipes on the Internet where I'll be able to find them again. And hopefully someone else will find them useful as well.
First thing is to put the tofu in the press and set it in the sink to drain. Pretty much the whole secret to making tofu that doesn't suck is to press the water out of it. I make a lot of tofu so I have an actual Tofu Press. If you don't, some paper towels and a couple of plates with a weight on top is fine. With that out of the way we can move on to making the carrot and daikon pickle.
1 pound of daikons, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
½ cup sweetener
1¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
Put the carrot and daikon in a bowl and add the salt and sugar. Knead them together until the vegetables have softened, about 3 minutes. Drain the veg and rinse in cool running water. Wring the excess water out and return to the bowl.
Combine the sweetener, vinegar and water and add to the bowl. Make sure the vegetables are covered. Allow to set for a least an hour, more is better.
Traditionally the carrot and daikon would be cut into thick matchsticks by hand. I hate doing that so I use a julienne peeler. The strips are a lot thinner but I don't find that to be a problem in a sandwich. I use sugar with the salt in the initial step because it's functioning more as a cure than a sweetener and it's mostly rinsed away. I do use an artificial sweetener in the brine.
Having made that, we can move on to marinading the tofu.
Place the first four ingredients in the bowl of a food processor
With the processor running, trickle in the vinegar until the mix reaches the desired consistency.
Adjust the salt to your taste but remember, it should be a little on the salty side.
Maggi sauce is a salty condiment popular in Southeastern Asian cuisine If you leave the Maggi sauce out and add a little bit of mustard, this recipe becomes regular mayo!
OK, now there just a couple more things to cut up and we're ready to actually apply heat to food! Jalapeno peppers and cucumbers are a traditional topping for banh mi's and I like to use a mandolin to slice them. Be sure to wear hand protection! Use small salad cucumbers and slice them the long way. The peppers can just be cut into rounds, seeds and all. And now I have a confession to make, I'm not a big cilantro fan. Cilantro is traditional for these sandwiches but I just leave it off. If you want it on yours, roughly chop some.
And now, finally, we're ready to cook. You do remember what I said about this taking all day, right? I like a cast iron pan for frying the tofu. Heat the pan to the smoke point and then lower the temperature to somewhere around medium. Remove the tofu from the marinade, be careful, it's fragile. Get any lemongrass or garlic off before you add it to the pan. With my stove, my pan and the way I like my tofu, about two minutes a side works well.
And finally, a note about the bread. A baguette is traditional for these but the ones I get around here are just too hard for my taste. I always feel like I should bring a hamster along to help out. I like a good loaf of crusty Italian bread. Cut it into about 8 or 9 inch pieces, split it in half and scoop out a trench in the middle.
So, eventually, we've reached the point where we can actually make a sandwich. Slather both side with the sauce and add a little more Maggi if you like. Place two or three pieces of tofu on the bottom slice of bread, follow that with three or four slices of cucumber, some cilantro if you're using it, and some jalapeno. Add some of the pickle to the top slice and press together
And there you have it, a banh mi sandwich. Hopefully you'll find all of the fuss worthwhile..