Aug 21, 2013

char siu tofu bánh mì

The Food Network is currently airing their fourth season of the Great Food Truck Race. Ever since the first season, when the Nom Nom Truck was a contender, I have been dying to make a bánh mì sandwich, one that is just as great as the Nom Nom Truck's. Difficult to tell though, since I can't taste the show's sandwich.

Last week the Food Network aired a rerun of the first season and all those desires came flooding back: I needed to finally make a bánh mì.

 In recent years, bánh mì, a Vietnamese baguette sandwich, has taken the U.S. by storm. The sandwich, or some variation there of, has shown up in a multitude of places, including the vegan world.  

There is a killer bánh mì sandwich in Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day! by Tamasin Noyes and Celine Steen and Robin Robertson has her own spin on this popular sandwich in One-Dish Vegan called 
the Bánh Mìzza.:

Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day!

One-Dish Vegan

Both of the above culinary masterpieces are amazing, so grab the books and start cooking. Naturally, these are not recipes I can share with you, but I can share the version I made.

I chose to make a Char Siu Bánh Mì

First things first:  we need to define just exactly what a "bánh mì" is. It is a Vietnamese baguette  sandwich with a (meat) filling, pickled vegetables, jalapenos, cucumbers and cilantro.

The pickled vegetables are a local replacement for the French cornichon pickles, which was an expensive ingredient for the local folks. The French influence, also responsible for the bread itself, is because of French colonization of the local region in the 1800's.

Char Siu is Asian barbecue pork. It is sweet, sticky, and bright red. Most Asian countries have adopted this Cantonese staple and have adapted it to suit their own needs and tastes. I am falling in line and adapting it to my tastes and needs. I used pressed tofu as the base. After marinating the tofu in the BBQ sauce, I baked it and then broiled it to achieve that  "burnt" or "siu" componenet that this dish is known for. 

I pickled daikon and carrots in a simple brine for about three days before making the sandwich. My bánh mì is served with the char siu, daikon pickles, cilantro, jalapenos, sauteed shiitake and onions, and my Cilantro-Sriracha Sauce

It is a little involved to make this sandwich: pickling the veggies, pressing and baking the tofu and all that slicing and dicing.  

 The hype alone that surrounds this sandwich is a good enough reason to spend a few hours in the kitchen. Decide for yourself - tasty enough for all that effort? In the end, we thought it was well worth it.

Char Sui Tofu + Daikon and Carrot Pickles + Cilanto-Sriracha Sauce 

Aug 8, 2013

"grills gone vegan" + black bean and carrot soup

Greetings from the new website!

Weekly Vegan Menu has moved to Zsu's Vegan Pantry and I am excited to introduce the new website. Please bookmark this new site: 

Not only has the blog's address and site have changed, but so has my family's location. We are now in San Diego, California, hoping to get out of our cramped apartment and into a more spacious house in the near future.

Right now I am cooking in a small kitchen, where I can reach from the fridge to the stove to the sink in a single step and where our teenage girls are sharing a room. Eek! NO teenager should ever have to share a room with another teenager  -- even though I remember doing the very same thing in my teens years; somehow it seems harder now. Generation gap.

Now that our family is semi-settled from our cross-country move, it is time to thank Tami from Vegan Appetite and author of Grills Gone Vegan, to extend a gratitude for announcing my photo of  her Corn-on-the-Cob recipe from the Grills Gone Vegan cookbook as her second place winner. My prize was a gift certificate to her very, very favorite online spice store, Penzeys Spices. I haven't had the chance to use the prize funds, yet, but I have taken a gander through their catalog and I have some great ideas!
Check them out!

Since grilling season is still in full swing, I made a couple of more recipes from GGV: The Red-Eye Tofu Steaks (page 82) with Creamy Harissa Sauce (page 172) and Lemon-Kissed Coucous (page 104).

It was amazing. Tami always knows just how to coax flavors. The tofu was smoky because of the marinade and the sauce was perfectly spicy without over-kill. That couscous really is lemon-kissed; even my husband who doesn't care for lemon in anything savory really loved this couscous. The couscous recipe is actually part of another recipe on that same page, Tunisian Skewers -- another one I highly recommend.

Since I can't give you those recipes, how about one of mine: Black Bean and Carrot Soup. No grilling-comparison, but it is a pretty good weeknight meal recipe.

Quick and easy soup using a few cans of black beans and four large carrots, this soup is blended a bit to get rich and thick while staying gluten free. I added spices and four to five large handfuls of fresh spinach at the end for added nutrition. Top it with crispy tortilla strips and fresh jalapenos and dinner is ready in around 30 minutes. Deep flavors without a lot of time.

Black Bean and Carrot Soup Print-Friendly Recipe