Vegetables, yarn, and yarns: all of my passions all in one place.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Vietnamese Beef Noodles that contain no beef

Welcome to Vietnam month. All April long. The problem I'm having with Vietnam is that it is a country with more prevalent "goofy" ingredients that I do not own and refuse to buy. Oddly, the vegetarian recipes of Vietnam always use more of these ingredients than their meat dishes. Thus, I discovered a Beef Noodle dish (Me Xao) for which I just blatantly replaced beef with oven-baked tofu.

I was still left, despite all my substitutions, with the problem of a lack of two items: fish sauce and oyster sauce. I did some googling though and found that soy sauce can be (albeit poorly) substituted for fish sauce. Oyster sauce, I learned, could be substituted with a mix of soy sauce and stock. Thus, I just omitted both from my version and replaced them with stock and extra soy sauce.

Of course, this could turn out one of two ways: it would either be brilliant or horrendous.

Beefless Beef Noodles
-inspired by this Me Xao recipe

1 package extra firm tofu
drizzle of teriyaki

1 box egg, rice, or pasta noodles

2T oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T sesame seeds
1 bag frozen Asian veggie mix
2 c.  shredded cabbage
1 c. frozen spinach or kale
6 T soy sauce
1 c veggie stock

1. Cook the pasta according to box directions. After a recent sale, my pantry is filled with ronzoni garden delight linguine. I'm quite fond of it. It contains extra veggies and comes in a tricolor arrangement of yellow, red, and green. Whilst the pasta boils, preheat the oven to 350 and slice up the tofu into strips. Lay the strips flat on a baking sheet and sprinkle with allspice and drizzle with teriyaki. Pop in the oven for about 20-30 minutes, flipping halfway through.

2. Heat oil in a large skillet or wok to med-high heat. Add garlic and sesame seeds. Then, add bag of veggies, spinach (or kale, because that's what was in the freezer), and the cabbage. Saute until cabbage is tender. Less that 10 minutes, probably.

3. Add the soy sauce and the stock and heat. Then, add the noodles and stir well, making sure to reheat the noodles.

4. Top noodles with tofu strips and serve.

The force was with me and apparently so was Vietnam because this self-created Vietnamese beefless beef oddity actually tasted fantastic, with the soy and stock flavoring everything with a light, salty flavor. It also formed a nice optional broth at the bottom of the pan, so that people like me, who like a little soup with their noodle, can add extra broth to their bowls for a faux Asian soup and others can just have the noodles and such with no excess liquid.

Sometimes you throw things in a pot and out comes magic. This was one of those times. I really taught that kitchen who was boss and I have Vietnam to thank. Plus, I so love a meal I can eat with chopsticks.

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