“Black salt can make tofu taste like eggs.” First time I heard that, I thought “Really? How?” I must try this myself. I looked all over locally for black salt but sadly it was nowhere to be found.
Then one day, a spice vendor popped up at the farmers market of all places and they had it. Even though it’s called black salt, it’s actually purplish pink in color. I had no idea there’s more than one type of black salt, the one to get is called Kala Namak or Sanchal or Indian Black Salt. Originally used in authentic Indian cooking, the mineral salt has a strong, sulfuric flavor and aroma, kinda like hard-boiled eggs.
Now, that I have said salt in my possession, what to do with it? I decided on a blast from the past. Growing up, my parents ran a Chinese-American restaurant that served egg foo young. I remember it all too well.
Along with my siblings, one of our jobs was to finely chop up the celery and onions that went into the patties. And bean sprouts, which we chopped up with an empty can. And lots and lots of eggs and flour.
Mom or Dad would mix it all up together and used an ice cream scoop to portion out each patty onto a hot griddle. It was later deep-fried to order and topped with brown gravy and green onions.
For a vegan version, I swapped out the eggs for tofu and added some of my favorite ingredients – fresh shiitake mushrooms, leeks and water chestnuts. Baked instead of pan-fried, it’s so much better and flavorful than the eggy version. It’s good with or without the gravy.
Tofu “Egg” Foo Yung
Makes 8-10 patties
6 fresh shiitake mushrooms, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 medium leek, white and some green part, chopped
3 ounces water chestnuts
1 teaspoon oil
14 ounce package of extra-firm tofu
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon or to taste kala namak
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 stalk green onion, chopped, for garnish
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Drain and rinse the tofu, wrap in paper towels and place a heavy weight on top. Press for about an hour. While the tofu is pressing, chop the vegetables.
Heat a wok to hot. When hot, add the oil and swirl to coat the wok. Add the celery and leeks, sauté for a few minutes, add the mushrooms and water chestnuts and cook for another minute or so. Place in a bowl and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Crumble the tofu, add the rest of the ingredients and blend well together. Scoop out a 1/4 cup of the mixture and shape into a patty on a oiled baking sheet. Brush the top of each patty with oil, flip over and brush the other side. Bake for 15 minutes, gently flip over and bake another 15 minutes.
To make the gravy, heat the broth with the soy sauce and sugar. Combine the cornstarch with a little bit of cold water and mix until smooth. When the broth comes to a boil, slowly add the cornstarch mixture and stir to desired thickness.
Top the foo yung with gravy and garnish with the green onions, serve immediately.
Where to find kala namak?
The vendor at the farmers market is a local company, Spice Hound, for their 2.5 oz jar, it was $7.00. I have since found the black salt labeled as Sanchal at an Indian market for cheaper. Also available online at Amazon from a number of vendors.
For today’s show and tell presentation, I have for you one of my favorite things – a little To-Fu. Created by the Japanese design team, Devilrobots, To-Fu Oyako is a well-known character in Japan. Simple but iconic. Sometimes happy. Sometimes sad. But always lovable.
To celebrate the many upcoming Vegan/Vegetarian Month/Day/Hour/Second (Google “vegetarian day” to find what’s going on near you. Hug A Vegetarian Day sounds like fun), I’m giving away a To-Fu mini print and dunny from my own personal collection.
What’s the mini print?
Haiti Earthquake Relief Poster designed by Devilrobots, for The Poster Cause Project, an online store selling and promoting limited editions by various artists and donating some or all of the profits to charity. To support the relief efforts, 100% of the profits from the Devilrobots print was donated to Doctors Without Borders. The print is full color on coated stock, size is 6″ x 11″.
What’s a dunny?
It’s a toy figure that’s like a blank 3D art canvas. Different artists create designs that are then made into collectible limited edition designer toys. The Devilrobots dunny is 3″ tall and made from vinyl, produced by Kidrobot for their Dunny Series 2009. To add to the fun of collecting, sometimes a series is packaged as a blind box assortment. You don’t know which design is in what box until it’s opened. Obviously, the To-Fu box has already been opened.
To enter the giveaway:
Leave a comment in this post with what if anything, you’re going to do for any of the upcoming veggie celebrations. Comment must be made by midnight PST on Tuesday, September 28th; one entry per person. No purchase is necessary to enter or win.
One winner will be randomly selected (using random.org) from the comments received and announced in a new post on Wednesday, September 29th. Winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be randomly chosen. Prize awarded is one Devilrobots To-Fu Oyako mini print and one Devilrobots To-Fu blue dunny (approximate total retail value $18.00).
Open only to U.S. residents age 18 and over. Odds of winning depend on the number of entries received. Void where prohibited by law. Giveaway is sponsored by Chow Vegan, the above mentioned companies and organizations in no way, shape or form have anything to do with this giveaway. Shipping and postage will be paid for by Chow Vegan. Prizes are not transferable, no substitutions are permitted, except at the discretion of the sponsor. Any tax is the sole responsibility of the winner. Winner releases Chow Vegan from any liability arising out of participation in this giveaway or the acceptance, use or misuse of the prize.
Yeah, I’m having a bit of a pizza binge over here in Chow Vegan land. You would think I had my fill of pizza after reviewing three Tofurky Pizzas in my last post. But hey, it’s pizza! And man, I haven’t had deep dish pizza in years, decades even.
Needless to say, I was very excited to try the vegan deep dish at Patxi’s Chicago Pizza in Palo Alto. I got the small 10″ Stuffed Vegan – spinach, crushed garlic, red onions, and Daiya vegan mozzarella cheese on a whole wheat crust.
After waiting 30 minutes for the deep dish to cook, it didn’t disappoint. The crust is nice and crusty, you can’t even tell it’s whole wheat. The Daiya cheese is nice and melty. Creamy too.
One slice and I was pretty much full. I haven’t had this much cheese in ages, it seemed really rich. Maybe because I’m used to eating lighter, cheeseless pizza. Next time I would leave out the onions and add other veggies instead.
Patxi’s also offers thin and extra-thin crust pizza which I would like to try sometime. All of their sauce and dough is vegan and made fresh daily.
Located in downtown Palo Alto, I’ve been racking my brain trying to think what was there before the pizza place (I use to live right around the corner). The decor is nice, the servers super friendly and the vegan pizza is clearly noted on the menu. A great addition to the list of places to eat vegan in Palo Alto.
California Pizza Kitchen Review – There’s a CPK downtown, they have vegan thin crust pizza but it’s cheeseless.
Garden Fresh Vegan Cuisine Review – All-vegan Chinese restaurant, also located downtown, one street over from Patxi’s.
Vegan Red Velvet Cupcake From Sprinkles – A little further away at nearby Stanford Shopping Center, but totally worth the walk or drive over there.
Finally found Tofurky pizzas at my local Whole Foods, I’ve been wanting to try them ever since I’ve heard about them. I picked up all three flavors seeing as they’re currently on sale for $6.49, regular retail price is $7.99 for the 10-inch pizza pie.
First up is the Pepperoni Pizza pictured above. The crust is crispy if eaten right away, less so if I pretend to be a photographer and shoot pictures of everything. Normally, I don’t like whole wheat crust but this one is thin and tasty. Plenty of pepperoni chunks and not overly cheesy.
Next is the Italian Sausage and Fire-Roasted Veggie – I like how it’s not smothered with toppings. Some cheese but again it’s not an overwhelming amount, I thought the mix of sausage to veggies was nicely balanced.
Fortunately, there’s more zucchini than bell peppers and the bell peppers (which I do not like) are small pieces so it’s not overpowering. It reminds me of the meaty-type-of-sausage pizzas but a whole lot less greasy.
The Vegan Cheese is melty just like a regular cheese pizza, definitely a lot more cheese than on the other two flavors. The taste is close to cheese but if you ever had Daiya, you know it has a distinct taste to it.
Out of the three flavors, I like the veggie one the best. Of course, it doesn’t compare to a pizzeria or homemade but it’s still good for frozen pizza. If you’re short on time or lazy like me, how else could you be eating a vegan pizza in 12 minutes?
While skipping down the aisles of the local Asian supermarket, I came across veggie shrimp. I’ve found them before over in the frozen food section but they weren’t vegan, having some sort of whey protein or some other such thing.
But these were different, they are vegan. It says so right on the package. I found this brand in the refrigerated section along with a bunch of other veggie meat and tofu products.
Some labeled “vegan”, some “vege”, I’m assuming this meant vegetarian. It seems like manufacturers are getting better with the labeling.
Convinced it’s the same as the ones used in Chinese vegetarian restaurants, I was inspired to make a vegan version of cashew shrimp. The taste is only vaguely shrimp-like, the firm texture is similar though. But veggie shrimp does make for a nice contrast to the sweet and crunchy snow peas.
Cashew Veggie Shrimp
5 ounces veggie shrimp
6 fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 small carrot, sliced diagonally
4 ounces napa cabbage, sliced
3 ounces snow peas, trimmed
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed and coarsely chopped
3/4″ piece fresh ginger, minced
Salt to taste
1/4 cup water
Cornstarch dissolved in water
Handful of raw cashew nuts
Heat a little of the oil in a wok and stir-fry the cashew nuts until they’re a light brown color. Place the nuts in a bowl and set aside.
Add the rest of the oil, when hot, add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry for about ten seconds. Add the carrots and mushrooms and stir. Toss in the snow peas and napa cabbage, stir-fry for a minute or so.
Add the veggie shrimp, water (if you like a lot of sauce, use all of the water. I prefer less sauce so I only use a little water) and season to taste. Continue to stir-fry for a few more minutes until the vegetables are crispy-tender and the shrimp heated through.
To thicken the sauce, slowly add the corn starch mixture and stir to desired thickness. Top with the toasted cashews and serve immediately with rice.
Variation: Substitute baked tofu for the veggie shrimp if you can’t find it or don’t care for faux things. Or just go with vegetables only. Of course, it wouldn’t be cashew veggie shrimp anymore but it’s still good. You can’t go wrong with toasted nuts and stir-fry.
While down in Southern California, Legoland in Carlsbad popped up on the itinerary a couple of times. For lunch there, I usually go for the salad bar at the Fun Town Market Restaurant. As you can see above, I really loaded up my plate.
After all that walking around the park, I need every single morsel. Because of the high turnover, the salad bar seems very fresh. The workers are constantly refilling the different items. I’ve even seen marinated tofu cubes, not on day 1 when I took the picture but they had it on day 2. It’s about 10 bucks a plate.
Usually the family eats over at Fun Town to accommodate me, the vegan. For one meal, we tried Upper Sports Deck Cafe for a change. When asked about vegan options, the waitress mentioned the Gardenburger and the entrée salads without the meat.
I got the burger with no mayo or dressing, it came with waffle fries, also for around $10. I think the patty may be vegan but I’m unsure about the bun. Also ordered the hummus with vegetables appetizer to share.
While Legoland has vegan options, it seems like Disneyland has more to offer. Although, probably the healthiest option of all the theme parks, is the Fun Town Market salad bar.
Sometimes I like to relax by trying out new recipes. I know it’s weird but if I have the time to relax, then I usually have the time to try cooking something new.
I’ve been eyeing the Zesty Orange Mojo Baked Tofu recipe from the Viva Vegan! cookbook. Since I’m staying at a resort with a full kitchen, it’s an ideal time to give it a go (I don’t have to clean the oven if it makes a big mess. Not that I’m going to make a mess on purpose or anything.)
It came out great, a bit differently than the actual recipe, seeing as I totally forgot about zesting the orange. I just squeezed it for the juice and threw the rest away. I only realize this as I’m staring at the remains of the orange in the trash, thinking I was suppose to zest that first.
And I had only bought one orange specifically for the recipe. Oops. So it’s just Mojo Baked Tofu. No zesty orange. Next time I try the recipe, I’ll be sure to have all of the ingredients plus extras.
On a side note, since I was traveling, I was only able to find super-firm tofu (all the other tofu was sold out). Super-firm is like the next step up from extra-firm. It’s very firm. When they say super-firm, they mean super-firm.
Stick to extra-firm to achieve that chewy outside, creamy inside kind of baked tofu. Super-firm makes it chewy all the way through.
Zesty Orange Mojo Baked Tofu
Serves 3 to 4
Time: About 55 minutes
1 pound extra-firm tofu
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
Grated zest of 1 orange
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Slice the tofu into eight 1/2-inch-thick slices and dab the slices dry with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel. Press the tofu if desired. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a shallow glass 9 by 12-inch baking dish, combine the olive oil and soy sauce. Lay a tofu slice in the baking dish, pressing it into the sauce mixture. Flip and press again to coat with the mixture. Bake for 20 minutes; remove from the oven but don’t turn the oven off. The tofu will be bubbling and juicy.
2. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a small bowl and stir well.
3. Flip each piece of tofu and pour the marinade over tofu; the marinade will nearly cover the top of the tofu. Bake for another 30 minutes until the tofu is firm and any remaining marinade has thickened up a little bit. Bake longer if an even chewier texture is desired. Serve the tofu hot and topped with any remaining marinade juices from the baking pan.
From the book Viva Vegan! by Terry Hope Romero. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2010. www.dacapopresscookbooks.com
Disclosure: This post contains an Amazon link, I get a few coins tossed my way if you click on the link and make a purchase of anything.
Corn Crusted Tempeh Pot Pie From Viva Vegan!