Soy Glad to Meet You

Yes, there has been a trend of corny blog post titles. Isn’t it fun?

Chef Shanaz was our instructor for soy lab today. She knows her soy!

Below: Group B prepping for lab kitchen.

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Below: One of the dishes we made was ginger tofu, which called for 1 tablespoon of ginger juice. I grated a good bit of ginger and squeezed out the juice.

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Below: One of the dishes my group made was tempeh “chicken” salad, with celery, pickles, parsley, and green onion. It was pretty dang good!

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Below: Tofu egg salad (top), pan-fried tempeh and ginger tofu (left), and tofu mayo (right). Tofu mayo is surprisingly good!

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Below: Pan-fried tempeh sticks – I really liked this presentation.

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Demo Kitchen

Chef Rachel is such a pleasure to be with. She brings a calmness and a high level of consciousness to not only her cooking but also attention to the mind and body of the cook her/himself. She showed us a few preparations of some delicious local (Johnson’s Backyard Garden) carrots.

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Below: Sweet carrot, warm, moist, and salty (in the case of the nishime). None were overcooked – these were very well cooked carrots and they had me looking forward to the day when I can replicate them identically. Chef Rachel talked about using high quality ingredients, which was key in this dish, and not getting in their way. 

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Below: Why am I rubbing my foot with no shoe on? Chef Rachel showed us some self-shiatsu techniques which had us feeling quite nice.

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Home Study

I bought some Johnson’s Backyard Garden carrots and tried the nishime technique that Chef Rachel showed us earlier. Yum!

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Below: The nishime-style carrots look like little owls. This is also known as the jewel cut.

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Napa Cabbage Salad with Asian Dressing

The Plan

Sweetish Asian dressing + crunchy napa cabbage = happy tummy.

A Bit More Detail

Here’s what I used:

  • Tahini (for creaminess)
  • Canola oil
  • Brown sugar
  • Soy sauce
  • Rice vinegar
  • Ginger
  • Toasted sesame oil
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Szechuan peppercorns (pounded into submission)
  • Shredded napa cabbage and whatever salad stuff you like (carrots, green onions work nicely)

The Spice

Below: First thing’s first: I HAD to smell those peppercorns.

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I had given up hope of finding some Szechuan peppercorns when I drifted past Penzey’s Spices on North Lamar. They had everything under the sun, so I brought home the peppercorns and gave them a whiff. They’re like nothing I’ve ever smelled before. Aromatic with mint and citrus notes. And spicy! But in a wholly unique way. And I don’t just mean really hot, I mean truly unique. My tongue is feeling hot and a bit raw as I type this from eating one of the peppercorns whole. I’d like to say that I loved it, but let’s say it’s a flavor that might have to grow on me. I really appreciate the novelty and the complexity, however.

Below: Mortar and pestle, one of the most fun kitchen gadgets ever.

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Below: Napa cabbage. Before you run off and think that napa cabbage comes from wine country, let me tell you that it actually comes from China. The term “napa” is from the Japanese term for edible vegetable leaves (1). A wonderful cruciferous vegetable, which are called Super Veggies by WebMD for their antioxidative powers and possible anti-cancer benefits. It’s the main ingredient in the main type of kimchi (a spicy fermented dish), so you could say that the Chinese cultivated it, the Japanese named it, and the Koreans use it — it’s a pan Asian foodstuff.

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Below: Tahini, which is ground sesame seeds. It has a somewhat bitter taste straight out of the can, but it’s normally mixed with other things. It is used as an ingredient in hummus.

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Below: The apple cider vinegar was for drinking, not for delicious-dressing-making. 🙂

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Below: I want to dive into all of those amazing flavors right there!

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Below: Shredded leaves looking so sad and un-spicy.

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Below: The final product, complete with carrot shreds and snow peas. And, the delicious dressing. It was a sweet, soy-ish, ginger-ish, creamy delight that motivated me to make this salad three times in two days from scratch each time. So easy!

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(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napa_cabbage

Black Soybean Salad

Another great recipe from Big Vegan, this time a black soybean salad with dulse and carrots.

Dulse

Dulse is a sea vegetable, some might call it a “seaweed.” It has an aroma of the sea, which I find pleasing. In this case, it was packaged in flakes which are then soaked and then squeezed before use. According to wikipedia (1), it’s rich in vitamins, protein, and other elements. It is said to be commonly used in Northern Atlantic regions such as Ireland and the Northeastern USA. Sea vegetables are a key part of a macrobiotic diet, which I wrote about in an earlier blog post. More than you ever wanted to know about sea vegetables is available on the Whole Foods website.

Below: Dulse flakes.

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