Getting Boozy With The Tipsy Vegan

The Tippler's Hot + Sour Soup

Another cookbook in for a review and getting a lot of action is The Tipsy Vegan: 75 Boozy Recipes to Turn Every Bite into Happy Hour by John Schlimm. I must confess I’m not much of a drinker but cooking with booze sure sounded fun. And adventurous. So let’s belly up to the bar and on to the kitchen.

I started out with something easy and somewhat familiar – The Tippler’s Hot + Sour Soup (page 31). It’s hot! As in spicy, not just temperature-wise and it’s sour too. Just like eating in a Chinese restaurant, although the restaurant version is highly unlikely to be boozy. Homemade is way better especially with the rice wine addition.

Next, I made Spicy Sesame Noodles Tie One On with Chopped Peanuts + Basil (page 124). I couldn’t find the extra thin fresh rice noodles called for in the recipe so I ended up using a slightly wider noodle. Still very good – the noodles are coated with an Asian-flavored rice wine dressing and served at room temperature.

Spicy Sesame Noodles Tie One On with Chopped Peanuts + Basil

Bruschetta on a Bender (page 21) is an interesting departure from the standard tomatoes with basil topping. Fresh thyme replaces the basil, mix in a fruity red wine or dry vermouth with the tomatoes and you got a nice little party going on for your taste buds.

sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-Sherry Bomb! Patats Bravas (page 14), another party starter, wasn’t quite as successful as the bruschetta. The flavor of the Spanish tapas of potatoes tossed in a spicy dressing was fine. Where I fell down was at the end of the recipe, where it said to “serve hot.” Did that mean serve right away or heat it up somehow? There was no further direction. I tried it both ways, heated was definitely better.

Bruschetta on a Blender

Cozy Tofu Under Black Bean Sauce (page 112), a main dish for a lushy lunch. Crispy, pan-fried tofu topped with a dry sherry black bean sauce. So good served with rice and Asian greens, I’ve since made the sauce several times. My favorite of the recipes I’ve tried so far, I haven’t even gotten to the recipes with beer or hard liquor.

There’s so much packed into this little gem of a cookbook – from the clean, one-recipe-per-page layout with gorgeous photos to the fun and witty writing. Each of the eight chapters begins with a cocktail recipe, and covers everything from “Plastered Party Starters” to sloshed soups, salads, sides, and boozy brunch, lunch and supper to “Drunken Desserts.” Now, you can have your booze and eat it too.

Cozy Tofu Under Black Bean Sauce

Cozy Tofu Under Black Bean Sauce
Makes 3 to 4 servings

1-pound block of extra-firm tofu, cut crosswise into 6 slices and pressed to remove excess water
4 cloves garlic
1-inch chunk of fresh ginger
2 tablespoons Chinese fermented black beans
1 1/2 cups water
4 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
Canola oil for frying

Prep the seasonings for the sauce: peel the garlic cloves and the ginger, then quarter the ginger. In a food processor, mince the garlic and ginger. In a small sieve, rinse the black beans until the water runs clear. Add them to the food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.

In a medium bowl, stir together the water, soy sauce, sherry, maple syrup, vinegar, and cornstarch until the cornstarch is evenly suspended.

Generously film the bottom of a heavy 2-quart saucepan with the canola oil and heat over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Stir-fry the black bean mixture until fragrant, less than 1 minute. Stir the cornstarch mixture and add it to the pan. Whisk the sauce occasionally while bringing it to a boil and simmer for 1 minute. Set aside.

Generously film the bottom of a 12-inch nonstick skillet with the canola oil and heat over high heat until hot but not smoking. Blot up any excess moisture on the tofu with a paper towel before placing it in the skillet. Fry the slices on both sides, turning them only when the underside are golden and crisp, 5 to 8 minutes total.

Reheat the sauce and serve the tofu, pouring the sauce over it. This pairs extremely well with rice and broccoli, or any other steamed vegetable of your choice.

From the book The Tipsy Vegan by John Schlimm. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright (c) 2011.

Disclosure: I received the book free of charge from the publisher to review. The opinions and experience with the book expressed herein are my own. There was no pay to say.

This post also contains an Amazon link, I get a few coins tossed my way if you click on the link and make a purchase of anything.


  1. says

    I also rarely drink, but ever since making that vodka sauce not too long ago, I’ve noticed what a difference even a small splash of alcohol can make in a dish. It simply seems to open up the flavors, much like a pinch of salt. I’m very curious about this book and hadn’t heard too much about it yet, so thanks for your review!

  2. says

    Great review! I’m another one who rarely drinks, but I remember I always used to add sherry to Chinese dishes, and it made a huge difference in the taste. We do use mirin, is that what you mean by rice wine? This sounds like a fun cookbook to own.

  3. chow says

    Hannah – I was surprised and delighted what a nice difference a little alcohol made in the dish.

    Noelle – I was falling behind on the book reviews too and now I’m trying hard to catch up. :-)

    Andrea – The recipes just said rice wine, I used Chinese rice wine since that’s what I had on hand. There’s one recipe though that calls specifically for mirin.

  4. says

    As a gal who loves to imbibe, I think I’ll have to get my mitts on this cookbook pronto. This reminds me of a little plaque in my kitchen that says, “I love cooking with wine, and sometimes I even put it in the food!”


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