Showing posts with label sauce. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sauce. Show all posts

Jul 11, 2020

dan dan noodles


Time: 30 minutes
Dishes: medium pot with lid, large skillet, measuring cup

Hello, hello Dear Readers!

Full disclosure: bump this meatless, vegetarian, and vegan recipe to a "moderate" if you add the stir-fry vegetables (from frozen is perfectly fine). I made this as a copy-cat recipe from PF Chang's, who make this without the vegetables, but I find adding them makes this dish even better; besides - vegetables are always great by me.

The sauce is sweet and just a bit spicy (unless you cannot have spice - as always, make the dish to suite your taste). This is best with tofu, but use seitan or Gardein with equal success. Mince the protein pretty well (check out the picture) because texture influences flavor.

Use a lid to heat the water for the pasta to get this meal on the table quickly - even with the added work of the vegetables, 30 minutes is all the time you'll be spending in the kitchen - unless you eat there, as well. 


Speedy Cooking Tips:

  • Put the water on for the pasta before grabbing the ingredients.
  • Use a lid while heating the water.
  • Grab the vegetables and thaw in water (unless already thawed). 
  • Squeeze the excess water from the vegetables before cooking.
  • Chop the green onions while the protein cooks and the water heats.
  • Prepare the sauce while the pasta cooks (unless you had time already).
  • Chop the protein while the green onions cook.

Dan Dan Noodles

Makes 4 servings 


1. Pasta: Cook the pasta in a medium pot of salted boiling water, until   al dente. Drain and use the pot for the Sauce:

12 ounces thin spaghetti

2. Protein: Cook in a large skillet over medium-high heat, with a lid:

1 teaspoon olive oil

16 ounces tofu, sliced or 4 Gardein scallopini

3. Remove from the skillet and set aside to cool. Once cool, mince.

4. Cooking Sauce: mix all the ingredients in a large measuring cup until sugar dissolves. Set aside. 

1 1/3 cups vegetable broth

1/3 cup tamari

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons garlic-chili sauce

2 tablespoons cornstarch

5. Dan Dan Sauce: using the medium pot from the pasta, heat over medium-heat and add: 

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 tablespoons minced garlic

5 green onions, minced

6. When golden (do not burn), add the Cooking Sauce (stir the sauce first) and the minced Protein. Cook until thickened, about 3 minutes.

7. Stir Fry Vegetables (optional): Heat the large skillet from the Protein step over medium-high heat and cook until tender:

1 teaspoon olive oil

3 cups stir-fry vegetables (if frozen, thaw first)

8. Serve: Add cooked Pasta to a bowl, top with Stir Fry Vegetables (if using) and Dan Dan Sauce

© 2020 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.

Aug 18, 2016


That's correct. I ran out of sriracha. This is the Trader Joe's version, but I am also out of the Whole Foods (Squirrel something) version and the Rooster version (the most popular one), as well. One might expect that I would simply add it to my shopping list, but I am committing to using less and less plastic, and I thought, why not start here??

It's not like sriracha is an essential ingredients. Yeah, right. Of course, it is!

As it turns out, Sriracha is very similar to sambal oelek and garlic chili sauce. All three start with the same red jalapenos, salt and vinegar, but that is where the similarities end.

Sambal Oelek is just the chilis, salt and vinegar, ground, cooked and packaged.

Garlic Chili Sauce is sambal oelek with garlic added, ground, cooked and packaged.

Sriracha is garlic chili sauce that is fermented for about a week, strained and sweetened.

As you can see, sriracha is definitely the most difficult of the three, as far as "difficulty" goes - I mean, it is just a matter of setting the ground chilis aside to ferment and then cooking it. I can think of things far more difficult than that. Like making dinner.

The real question is the issue of the chilis.

I could not find red jalapeno chilis anywhere (maybe because Huy Fong Foods has monopolized them all!) which is what the green top brand uses exclusively, so I had to settle for Fresno peppers and green jalapenos. I cut off the stems but left the crown of the peppers because they add a fruity flavor (so I read).

Then I ground them all with salt, vinegar and garlic. The salt is crucial in fermentation such as this because it prevents unwanted bacteria from forming while allowing the good bacteria to flourish. This is true for all vegetable/(some fruit) fermentation.

Then I packed it in a jar, covered it tightly with a lid and let it do its work. I stirred it (more accurately shook the jar) every day and waited. Tough, I know. After all, I was out of sriracha by this point!

After 5 days the mixture actually smelled like sriracha! I was very excited!

Add caption

You can see that the fermentation was working because there were bubbles everywhere, and that was before I shook the jar. Once I shook it this final time the bubbles were just popping up all over, very much like making rejuvelac.

At this point I added the whole thing to my blender, added the sugar and buzzed it until it was as smooth as I could get it.

Then it was just a matter of passing it through a fine (not very fine!) mesh strainer to remove any seeds or pepper skins and then cooking it until the desired consistency was achieved.

Now, admittedly there are a few things I will change when making it the next time:

1. I over fermented it, I think. A day less would have done it. This version turned out a bit too ripe.
2. I will change up the peppers next time. Fresno cost me $7 a pound and I used 1 pound of it, plus the green jalapenos. The cost was way too much. I'm going to try using red bell peppers with green jalapenos. It might be even better because the bell peppers are a bit sweeter.
3. I clearly didn't make enough. But when you are experimenting, you don't want to risk a bunch of wasted product.

Overall, I'm very happy to keep a few more bottles of plastic out of my life and this is so easy and simple to make that I don't hesitate calling this a win-win. For more information, I blog at Plastic Free Vegan.

Makes 1 1/4 cups

1 pound fresno peppers
1/2 pound green jalapenos
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 cup sugar

1. Cut the stems (but not the crowns) off the peppers and add them to a food processor. Add the garlic, vinegar and salt. Process until finely ground. Transfer to a 1/2-gallon glass mason (to make it easy to stir) and cover tightly with a lid. Place the jar aside, out of sunlight, for 3 to 5 days. Stir the chili mixture once a day and taste after three days. If it tastes fermented it is ready for the next step.
2. Add the chili mixture to a blender along with the sugar. Blend until very smooth. Transfer to a fine mesh strainer (not a very fine mesh) and pass all the mixture through as you possibly can. Don’t forget to scrape the underside of the strainer where pulp accumulates. 
3. Add the strained mixture to a medium saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat until it is at the consistency that you like. I reduced mine to 1 1/4 cups. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and sugar. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. 

*Note: I will update this recipe as I continue to update the process.

© 2016 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.

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Jul 9, 2014

pulled carolina bbq sammie

Hoo-wee! That's tangy! Carolina BBQ is known for its tang - and they aint kiddin, folks. Most Carolina BBQ sauce is almost all vinegar with a dash of sugar to "mellow" things out. I thought I had an odd-ball recipe I was looking at when I first began my search, but it turns out that's the norm and not the exception.

Only thing I can figure as to why this is the case is because the meat used is very fatty and the vinegar helps temper the heaviness. As does the required slaw.

Since our vegan version of this very traditional dish contains no saturated fat or any inherent fat at all, really, it is important to add some, otherwise the same flavor will elude us. In fact, it is completely realistic to add two or three tablespoons of melted vegan butter to the cooked bbq - and if you are looking for a very authentic vegan sammie, please go for it! We didn't, but we might next time!

As this recipe stands, it has about four tablespoons of added fat, but, dang it, it's worth it. With the added richness, the vinegar-based sauce is a bonus, instead of an overpowering distraction.

Having said that, I nevertheless went ahead and tempered the vinegar with a bit of mustard and ketchup - both ingredients still well withing the wheelhouse of the Carolina barbie (all you Food Network fans, did you catch that?).

As for replacing the animal product in this 'cue, well, dadgummit, it aint hard - I used Beyond Meat Chicken-Free Strips and separately made another variation using tempeh. Loved both! The strips give a more meaty texture, but the tempeh adds a nutty undertone, which was very welcome.

As usual, this recipe is ready in a jiffy. Come and get it!

And GO AND GET IT! Get entered in the contest at Simple Beauty Minerals, that is. Enter....

-----> HERE  <-----

for a chance to win my cookbook, Everyday Vegan Eats, and gift certificates to Simple Beauty Minerals. The chance to win is on-going once you enter, so why wait?

This week Lisa is giving away another gift certificate for her make up (which I simply ADORE!) and this week up for grabs is a natural fragrance by Pure Diva Natural Botanicals.

Once you are done entering the contest, come back here to get the recipe for that there Carolina BBQ. Not a second sooner!

Pulled Carolina BBQ   
Serves 4

2 tablespoons neutral oil, plus more for sauteing
½ teaspoon toasted sesame seed oil
½ teaspoon liquid smoke
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 (12-ounce) package Beyond Meat Chicken-Free Strips or 1 (8-ounce) package tempeh
Carolina BBQ Sauce (recipe follows)

1. Combine the oils, smoke, salt, garlic, sugar, paprika, mustard and black pepper in a large bowl. Set aside.
2. Shred the strips or tempeh using a box grater. Use a sharp knife to thinly slice any pieces that are difficult to shred with the grater. Transfer the shreds to the marinade and mix well to combine.
3. Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the marinated protein and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
4. Add half the BBQ sauce to the skillet, mix and remove from the heat. Serve the barbecue on toasted buns, with coleslaw and the remaining sauce.   

Carolina BBQ Sauce

1 tablespoon vegan butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
½ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup ketchup
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon sea salt

1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the garlic and chili flakes. Cook, stirring, until the garlic is golden, about 1 minute. Add the vinegar, ketchup, mustard, sugar, black pepper and salt. Whisk to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning.

© 2014 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.

I am linking to these recipe parties: Healthy Vegan FridaysWhat I Ate Wednesday and Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck. 

Oct 14, 2012

MoFo chopped! challenge

Roasted Butternut Squash in Popcorn Crepes with Rosemary Apricot Sauce

My dear husband has swept up the confetti and I have composed myself, but are YOU ready? It is Weekly Vegan Menu's first Chopped!/Vegan MoFo Challenge!

Yours truly follows the MoFo blog religiously and was amazed at the incredible option dangled before me. The golden carrot of opportunity. 
The Chopped!/Vegan Challenge
Yes, like most devoted fans of Chopped!, not only have I thought 'eww..gross' at many rounds of the basket, but have boasted that I-can-do-better. Ms. Isa heard these boasts of ours and has given us the chance to put the basket where our stoves are.

I am sure there are some readers unfamiliar with this process. Here is a succinct rundown of the Food TV show:

4 chefs
4 ingredients
20-45 minutes
1 dish using all of the ingredients in the basket
3 rounds of baskets
3 judges to decide the winner

In our only round of the MoFo challenge, BRUNCH, we were given in our virtual baskets:

butternut squash
apricot preserve 

There are over 800 bloggers in MoFo VI.
 This is MY story:

As soon as I read the ingredients, I knew, for better or worse, what I would make. But more importantly, I knew I would actually be making it, not just have daydreams about entering. 

I realized, as anyone reading the ingredients list, that popcorn was the challenge. As much as a raked my brain for different variations of the popcorn itself, alas, popcorn can only appear in a few forms: popcorn kernels (con: can cause emergency tooth surgery), popcorn popped (con: too average), popcorn ground (flour) (con: too messy), popcorn liquefied? Maybe not the last one. I was sure I was the only clever cleaver to go with popcorn flour!
 [Yeah,... probably not :] 

I decided to use my un-original idea of popcorn flour to make Crepes.
Crepes made with popcorn. Popcorn Crepes.

 I popped my fresh kernels, as any self-respecting Chopped Contestant would, ground it into flour, 
(Now I know where the packing material's name comes from - believe me, it isn't the popcorn; it is the airiness it achieves when you open the blender top. I thought glitter was bad! I'm sure I will be cleaning up popcorn debris until next year.) 
and used it as part of the crepe batter. Surprise! It worked! Not only did the popcorn add popcorn flavor (thanks in part to the 'double' cooking of the popcorn), but it did not mess up the crepe itself. 

Popcorn. Check.

Butternut squash is scary enough to send any and all of my kids scrambling for cover; they are not fans of winter squash. I haven't been, either, truth be told. That is, until I learned to roast. See this post for roasting techniques. 

Roasting is a medium-heat cooking where the natural sweetness and flavor of the cooked ingredient is drawn out. That is exactly what I did with the butternut squash. I added Rosemary to the squash to echo the Rosemary in the sauce. It also adds a lovely earth-quality to the sweetness of the squash and the richness of the black beans. Although black beans are not in the basket, the challenge is a BRUNCH one, and a great protein source (in addition to the other wonderful plant proteins) is beans. Black beans also pair extremely well with winter squash because they complement each other.

Butternut Squash. Check.

Apricot preserve had  a few different options in my thread of cooking. It could glaze the squash or become a sauce. I decided on making it into a sauce because adding the sweetness of the preserve to the sweetness of the squash was just begging for a double whammy, and not in a good way. 

However, if I made the preserve into a sauce and cooked it with some apple cider vinegar long enough that the acidic quality of the vinegar was gone, but the delightful tartness remained, then the sweetness of the preserve would be balanced. I used the Rosemary, for the second time, in the sauce. The earthy quality of the herb fared well with the preserve. Doubling up the Rosemary in the sauce and the squash preparation connects the elements of the dish. I was careful to not overwhelm the palate with Rosemary, but to not let it get lost among the other flavors.

Rosemary. Check.
Apricot Preserve. Check.

To sum it up, I kept it simple, not overdoing the dish with too many other ingredients. 
The crepes have a definite popcorn flavor, but not overwhelmingly so. They pair well with the sweetness of the squash with its hint of spiciness and Rosemary. The sauce adds another dimension of sweetness and tartness, again with Rosemary hinting at the edge of the bite. The dish is contrasting enough while complementing all the basket ingredients. It is a complete dish with no one note taking center stage. It is also seasoned well, for those judges wondering. Salt and fresh ground pepper were appropriately used.
 A simple symphony for the palate.

Who is the winner? And who will be chopped?
Tune into MoFo  on October 16!

My recipe is below the pictures.