August 15th, 2007
|10:35 am - But If You Dig on Vegan Food|
After unexpectedly wrangling Dan (incidentist), meeting enshanam's friend Christian and his girlfriend Kim, looking at creepy things in Paxton Gate (which Dan deemed "the Harry Potter store," as it would fit in well on Diagon Alley), playing around in the pirate store (826 Valencia), eating very good chicken mole and soyrizo burritos at Papalote, riding the St. Francis elevator to the thirty-first floor, stopping for a scone with strawberry-rhubarb jam, attempting to appreciate the art in the MOMA, rescuing a plastic bag from a fountain, having way too much fun with the Reactrix in the Metreon, perusing the anime shelves at Kamikaze Pop, and discovering that Cafe Gratitude was randomly closed for some staff workshop or something, but before consuming yummy mint chip/chocolate ice cream at the Bi-Rite Creamery, we had dinner at Herbivore, my first vegan restaurant experience.
On the recommendations of both enshanam and the waitress, I got the BBQ soy "chicken" sandwich on a French roll.
And it was amazing.
I did not realize lack-of-meat could taste so good. enshanam said the soy was basically a vehicle for BBQ sauce, and that made sense. And there was something about the spongy consistency that made this combination seem more successful than a hypothetical "real" chicken counterpart. Because it doesn't offer much resistance to your teeth, it allows the flavor to mix with everything in the sandwich, so that the focus isn't on the taste of the protein vehicle but the taste of everything else, from the bread to the vegetables to the light spread (mayonnaise? vegennaise? aioli?). The French bread, too, was key, because what kind of a crazy person puts a BBQ sandwich on French bread? The slight crispness balances out the texture of the soy "chicken" in a way that a regular bun wouldn't. It was the best sandwich I'd had in ages.
Perhaps there's more to vegan/vegetarian cuisine than meets the pie.
Current Mood: hungry
Current Music: M.I.A. - Sunshowers
As a vegetarian, I applaud you for giving soy a chance. A lot of people can't wrap their heads around the point of tofu and other soy products, which is basically (and I'm generalizing, for sure) that it absorbs the flavors of everything it's cooked with and gives a different texture to them. Preparing tofu is tough, because if you don't do it correctly, you get silken, mushy lumps of tasteless protein. But if you do it right, it can be creamy, firm, chewy, spongey, crumbly or a bunch of other textures. And it picks up everything so herbs especially get a chance to shine.
Glad you liked it!
Yesssssss! Now I want to be your friend.
I actually really enjoy vegetarian food (I've been contemplating/dabbling in semi-ish-vegetarianism for the past couple of years) - my boyfriend always buys these soy breakfast sausages which are so yummy. :D Tofu is really all in the preparation, like the person up there mentioned. It's kind of fun to experiment with. I hate the soft and squishy kind, though.
I love it when meat eaters have these kind of epiphanies.
I've had garden burgers, which are okay, and veggie hot dogs are kinda weird and passable, and I've had some tofu and tempeh stuff before, but I've never had anything this amazingly good.
This is one of my favourite Sports Night episodes. Casey's laugh following this? Kills me dead.
I am definitely faking that sandwich soon. It sounds so good.
So so so good. I don't know how they did it!
I found some recipes but they all basically say: 1) Fry tofu. 2) Add BBQ sauce. 3) Sandwich (the verb!). 4) Eat.
|Date:||August 16th, 2007 12:55 pm (UTC)|| |
I would actually try Seitan (a wheat gluten product, which is not in fact soy based). It is MUCH easier for the home cook than tofu, has the "spongy" quality and is, I think, incredibly tasty. Of course, I haven't eaten meat in 16 years, so.. .. grain of salt.
Sunil, my friend, whenever we eventually meet I am going to introduce you to the insanely awesome world of vegetarian cooking. Or at least, I will cook for you and drag you to some veggie restaurants.
As a pretty upfront meat eater, I've discovered that chicken breast is so freaking bland and chewy that I'd happily substitute well prepared tofu for it in most situations. (dark meat on the other hand... yum!) We've cooked bar-b-fu on our grill a bunch of times as well as using it in stirfries (mmm... soy and sesame flavoring!). As long as you squeeze out the moisture that's it's stored in, there's serious potential in them curds. (also, an excellent substitution for paneer in curries!)
we're working on weaning ourselves off giant farm factory meat, so we eat vegetarian more days than not. (it's the only way we can afford the meat from farmers whose practices we DO support!)
we usually sort of wing it, but if I recall correctly (my husband cooks it, but I watch) here are the steps:
get extra firm tofu (we use the organic stuff from Trader Joe's)
divide it into quarters; wrap in paper towels; put between 2 baking/sheet pans; put a bunch of cans on the top pan; leave to squeeze out the liquid for, um, a half hour or so?
once the tofu has been de-moisture-ated, slice into thin strips; toss in a marinade with sesame oil, soy sauce, and chopped garlic. Marinade for another half hour or so...
My husband usually sears the tofu in the wok first; using about a Tbsp or so of peanut or grapeseed oil, heat up to pretty hot. Once that's been cooked through, he takes it out and does his other vegetables... broccoli (which he blanches first), cabbage, carrots, peppers or any combination thereof, is what we use. He usually does them in separate batches (wiping out the wok and re-oiling before each batch) so that there's space in the pan to move it around and so it can be exposed to the heat evenly. He also sprinkles chinese 5-spice powder on each batch for spice flavoring.
At the end, he puts all the various veg and tofu back in the wok, stirs it up, and THEN puts in his sauce flavoring, like garlic-bean sauce or hoisin sauce. He'll put a little more oil into get the sauce loosened up, maybe. But everything heats through and gets sauced up at the same time at the end.
It's a pretty quick process, so you will want your rice ready before you start!
Hope this helps; sorry I don't have a specific recipe to point you too.
it's very cool how once you squeeze all the moisture out, it is very thirsty to soak up whatever flavors you want! Ah, tofu.
Happy to be of service!
I once had a vegan egg nog. It mostly tasted like cinnamon-y bourbon.
|Date:||August 15th, 2007 07:03 pm (UTC)|| |
I had a vegan hamburger a while ago, and it really didn't taste anything like meat, but it was really really good.
|Date:||August 15th, 2007 08:28 pm (UTC)|| |
was here, I had so many amazing vegan meals. I was new to it too, so I know how you feel.
You were so wonderfully accommodating! I'm so happy that your vegan dining experiences were of the good, as opposed to the bad. Cause that would really suck.
But yes, I wish Real Food Daily and Madeleine Bistro were within an hour's drive of where I live. That would be ace.
"Well come over to my work, I'll have them cook you something that you'll really love, 'Cause I like you, Yeah I like you, And I'm feeling so bohemian like you..."
It was really the perfect title for this post.
You do have a way with titles. :)
|Date:||August 15th, 2007 09:46 pm (UTC)|| |
A couple of months ago I accidentally ate chicken for the first time in about 15 years. It was weird. The stuff has NO TASTE.
If I ever truly went vegetarian, I think I'd starve. Not because I'm just that tied to meat (which... yeah, maybe) but because I just dislike the vast majority of the vegetable family. Amusingly enough, I do like tofu in most situations. But my sandwiches, for instance, consist of meat and bread (occasionally a slice of cheese or some mustard, but that's the extent of my dabbling). So while I am tentatively on board with the french bread-and-soy idea, the rest of me is wondering why you'd mess up the sandwich with vegetables, BBQ sauce, and mayonnaise. =)
When you're in LA next, make it a point to go to either Real Food Daily or Madeleine Bistro. Or both. They're amazing vegan restaurants.
Vegan food can easily be as good as meat-based dishes. Plus, they're vegan! What's not to love?
Here in Eugene, OR is a bakery that makes the most fantastic chocolate cake ever and it's 100% vegan. I don't know how they do it, but since moving here I've discovered that depite my meatatarian...ness, vegan/veggietarian food can be brilliant if it's done right.
(also, after that long litany of yours, I really really want to visit SF again. pout.)
I LOOOOOOOOOVE tofu. You really have to try deep-fried tofu. Mmmmmmm. And yes, tofu tastes like nothing until you pair it with something, so it can taste like crap if you cook crap with it. A lot of people make that mistake and assume tofu sucks.
A lot of people make that mistake and assume tofu sucks.
Mmmm. Yet another reason I have to visit San Francisco now.
I will venture so far as to say I eat more delicious and interesting food as a vegetarian, not because veggie food is inherently better (UNLESS IT IS), but because I have to pay a little more attention to what I'm choosing to eat, especially if I go out. I think I end up trying more things than I would otherwise, because I don't have the "chicken with some stuff on it" option to fall back on.
I'm not even trying to brainwash you (or only just a little). I just really like the food.
Yaaaay someone sees the light! There's so much more to eat than people know!
|Date:||August 16th, 2007 09:07 am (UTC)|| |
come over to my work
I was just told today I should start drinking more soy milk to get my calcium! Also, I like how both your icon and mood are of Iroh.
I had the same kind of experience at Cafe Gratitude. Besides being nauseated by all the New Age hyperbole, I was totally impressed with the food. I still have cravings for this salad I had there, because it was so fresh and delicious. And my friend brought me this "pizza" that they made, and it was all constructed out of nuts and seeds and raw vegetables and stuff, yet somehow it actually tasted like pizza! It was crazy.
*poke* I'm glad it impressed you so much! I will be getting me one of the ones here in NC as soon as I can.
Hopefully I'll get around to a lengthy update at some point where I talk about how awesome my entire trip was. You were a major component of the awesomeness. And that food. yum. And Ratatouille, yay!
Could you please edit out my RL name and just use my LJ name? Thanks!
Oops, sorry! Didn't know you were covert.
Thank you for getting bored and doing the dishes, by the way. Heh.
I'm only covert in the sense that I'm trying to minimize my search engine trail. No problems with your friends knowing my name, just the internet at large.
And I know it's already out there ("What are we supposed to do? Call the cops? It's already out there!"). But...yeah. Thanks. (;