7.30.2015

meatball banh mi + vegan fish sauce

By now, if you haven't heard of the Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich, you have been missing out on a fantastic sub - which is basically what it is, a sub sandwich with an Asian twist and, most notably, fish sauce.



Banh Mi can be composed of sliced meats, tofu, pate or, as in the case of this recipe, meatballs.


Banh Mi Burgers from EVE, page 90


There is a great Banh Mi burger recipe in Everyday Vegan Eats (page 90) and I participated in last year's Vegan MoFo with a different burger and now I offer this magnificent vegan meatball Banh Mi.






All three components of the sandwich can be prepared ahead of time and reheated when needed.

An essential components of any good banh mi is fish sauce. I've searched up and down for a good vegan fish sauce recipe, but they are typically nothing more than soy sauce and sugar, unfortunately without the culinary funk that is so distinctive of the original.

During recipe development of Vegan Bowls, I needed a good replacement for fish sauce to make the dishes truly great. Ultimately, the recipe for vegan fish sauce became part of the recipes themselves, and the actual vegan fish sauce recipe was skipped.

Since Vegan Bowls (Amazon, B&N) is ready for pre-order (currently at the low price of $10+change from Amazon), I wanted to share the sauce recipe with you.

I've developed two versions, one that uses doenjang, Korean fermented soybean paste, and the other that uses liquid from jarred capers. The capers idea originated with my spilling a bottle of capers on the counter and a little bell going off. Then one of my fabulous testers, Liz of Cooking the Vegan Books, confirmed my hunch that she, too, has used it as a sub; I instantly knew I was on the right track as she is a globetrotter and quite familiar with authentic Asian cuisine.

Following the vegan fish sauce recipe is the Meatball Banh Mi recipe, a fusion of Italian and Vietnamese. Since the banh mi itself is a fusion of French and Vietnamese, because of the French influence during its colonization period, it only makes sense that influences from other countries are a good fit for a banh mi fusion.








Zsu's Vegan Fish Sauce
Makes ¼ cup

Version 1:
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari
2 teaspoons caper brine liquid
½ teaspoon sea salt


Combine the water, tamari, caper liquid and salt. Mix well to combine. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.


Caper brine liquid is the liquid from a bottle of capers.


Version 2:
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari
1 teaspoon doenjang
¼ teaspoon sea salt


Combine the water, tamari doenjang and salt in a small blender. Blend well. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.


Doenjang is Korean fermented soybean paste. It is available on Amazon.


© 2015 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.














Meatball Banh Mi
Serves 4


Sauce:
1 tablespoon neutral oil
1 small onion, minced
½ teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (18-ounce) jar whole tomatoes
1 ¼ cup vegetable broth
Slurry of ½ cup vegetable broth mixed with 2 teaspoons tapioca starch
2 tablespoons Zsu’s Vegan Fish Sauce
1 teaspoon sugar


Pickles:
½ cup hot water
1 tablespoon sugar
¾ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup seasoned rice vinegar
1 medium onion, sliced
2 small carrots, cut into julienne slices
6 large radishes, cut into julienne slices


Meatballs:
2 tablespoons neutral oil
1 medium onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium zucchini, grated (about 14 ounces)
1 (8-ounce) can water chestnuts, rinsed and drained, minced
2 tablespoons vegan oyster sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 cup oat flour
½ cup chickpea flour
½ cup vital wheat gluten
2 tablespoons tapioca starch
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper


Hoagie rolls, toasted
Jalapenos slices, cilantro sprigs


Sauce:
Heat the oil in a medium saucepot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and oregano. Cook until golden, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook 30 more seconds. Add the tomatoes and broth and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and cook 25 minutes. Blend the sauce using an immersion blender and add the slurry, fish sauce and sugar. Season with salt and black pepper. Set aside, but keep warm.


Pickles:
Combine the water, sugar and salt in a quart mason jar and mix until the sugar dissolves. Add the vinegar and mix. Add the onion, carrots and radishes. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.


Meatballs:
1. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until golden, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and mix in the zucchini, water chestnuts, oyster sauce, sugar, flours, gluten, tapioca, salt and black pepper. Mix well and set aside for 10 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 350-degrees F. Form the mixture into balls about the size of walnuts and bake on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake the balls for 30 minutes, flipping them halfway through.
3. Transfer the baked balls to the sauce, return the sauce to simmer and cook the balls until tender.


Assembly:
Serve the balls on the toasted hoagie rolls, garnished with cilantro, jalapeno and pickled vegetables. Serve with additional sauce for dipping.  


© 2015 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.

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