Archived entries for vegan

Black Sesame and Green Onion Tofu

I’ve always been such a fan of sesame seeds, whether sprinkled on bread, used in salad dressings to give a nice texture, or as the base product in such staples as tahini or halva. Yum. But black sesame seeds, that’s another story! Having never tried to use them in a home recipe before, I bought a small amount of seeds at World Spice Market in Pike Place Market.

Regarding preparing tofu at home: I was vegetarian for many years, and I want to share these two bits of knowledge I learned. First of all, if you want to make tofu extra sponge-like, freeze it first and then thaw it before marinating. It changes the texture so that it’s able to soak in flavors more. This is, of course, if that’s what you’re going for ;) Secondly, tofu on its own won’t really get a nice crunch. You can fry it until it’s dark brown, you’ll just have a very dry outside. Just apply a very light coating of cornstarch on the outside of the tofu. It’ll brown beautifully and will soak up more flavor from whatever you’re frying it in!

Black Sesame and Green Onion Tofu

1 package firm tofu
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp tonkatsu sauce
4 green onions
1 tbsp black sesame seeds
1/4 cup cornstarch

Cut the tofu into approximately 1×2 inch cubes.
Mix together soy sauce, sesame oil, and tonkatsu sauce and pour over tofu in a bowl. Let marinate 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop the bottom half of the green onions into small slivers.
Spread the cornstarch on a plate, and lightly coat the tofu pieces with the cornstarch.
Heat up a pan on high heat with a little canola oil. Place the tofu in the pan, and fry until medium brown and crispy. Turn individually to brown other side.

Garnish with black sesame seeds, green onions, and a quick dash of tonkatsu sauce.

Goes great with vegetables and rice also mixed with the sesame seeds!

Week 5: Lettuce

There’s nothing worse than wilted lettuce, am I right?

I worked for one month at a coffee shop. I was a busgirl for two weeks, and then was moved up the ranks to waitress-in-training. I loved getting tips. I really hated watching the cook pick out the wilted lettuce from a giant bag of salad greens in the morning. I’m not sure how often this is done in the food industry, but from my own experience, those greens were probably at least a week old. I guess you have to just do what you have to in order to make ends meet. At least it’s less deceptive than some places that serve decaf coffee to everyone in the guise of offering both regular and decaf. (Yes, this is true!)

I decided to grow my own lettuce this year despite tales of slug domination in the Pacific NW. I couldn’t be happier with the results – crisp, fresh baby greens whenever I want them. The climate in Seattle is perfect for growing lettuce in the cooler months, which honestly is most months. I did have a slightly crazy experience with earwigs running around in my sink with the first head I harvested, but I’ve since smartened up and now shake the head like crazy before bringing it indoors. Honestly, I like to see the occasional bug in my lettuce. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s just proof to me that pesticides weren’t used on the produce.

Aside from the numerous sites listing the antioxidant POWER of red-leafed and dark green lettuce, the most interesting factoid I found was that eating lettuce is sometimes taboo:

“In Yazidism, the eating of lettuce and butter beans is taboo. The Muslim religious teacher and scholar, Falah Hassan Juma, links the sect’s belief of evil found in lettuce to its long history of persecution by Muslims and Christians. The Caliphs of the Ottoman Empire carried out massacres against the Yazidis in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with the faithful slain in the lettuce fields then dotting northeastern Iraq. Another historical theory claims one ruthless potentate who controlled the city of Mosul in the thirteenth century ordered an early Yazidi saint executed. The enthusiastic crowd then pelted the corpse with heads of lettuce.”

A caveat regarding these cups: I advise using cashew cream (pureed, water-soaked cashews) instead of cashew butter (think peanut butter, with cashews instead of peanuts). Unfortunately, I got ravenously hungry and couldn’t wait for those cashews to soak. Prior planning prevents piss-poor performance, right Dad?

Lettuce Cups with Cashew Cream (vegan)

  • 1 carrot
  • a handful of Kalamata olives
  • fresh red leaf or baby romaine lettuce
  • cashew cream (see below)
  • ripe tomato or handful grape tomatoes
  • nutritional yeast

Rinse and pat dry lettuce. Select the best smaller leaves to use for cups.
Dice olives and tomatoes into small pieces. Grate carrot.
Fill each cup about halfway with cashew cream, then sprinkle with olives, tomatoes, and carrots. Finish off with a light sprinkling of nutritional yeast.

Cashew Cream
I got this from Tal Ronnen’s site. It does take some prep work to make ahead of time, but it’s so delicious and really gives an extra richness to any vegan dish!

2 cups whole raw cashews (not pieces, which are often dry), rinsed very well under cold water

1. Put the cashews in a bowl and add cold water to cover them. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
2. Drain the cashews and rinse under cold water. Place them in a blender with enough fresh cold water to cover them by 1 inch. Blend on high for several minutes until very smooth. (If you’re not using a professional high-speed blender such as a Vita-Mix, which creates an ultra-smooth cream, strain the cashew cream through a fine-mesh sieve.)

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