Spicy Teriyaki Rice Bowl

This is a quick dinner that scales easily, uses whatever veggies and protein you have around, is cheap and filling, and tastes good. I’ve made a spicy version because, if you haven’t noticed, I think spice is the spice of life, but you can omit the chili paste and have yourself a regular teriyaki rice bowl instead if you prefer.

Spicy Teriyaki Rice Bowl

veggies to pan-fry, such as carrots, onions, bell pepper, broccoli, asparagus, daikon, squash, etc., chopped, sliced, or julienned into uniform pieces
protein, such as tofu, seitan, tempeh, fake vegan “meats”, and/or beans, cubed or sliced in uniform pieces
sushi rice, prepared
scallions, chopped and/or sesame seeds, for garnish

For the sauce (measurements for 2 – 4 servings)
4 Tbsp soy sauce
4 Tbsp mirin
4 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp chili broad bean paste (omit for a non-spicy teriyaki sauce)
1 tsp grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, grated

Prepare the sushi rice. I use a rice cooker. When it’s cooked, let it cool, then cut in salt and sushi vinegar to taste.

Whisk together the sauce ingredients into an appropriately sized pot. (For the amounts above I used this adorable cast iron melting pot.) Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer a few minutes or until sugar is dissolved.

Meanwhile, fry the veggies and protein (adding the ingredients to the skillet in descending order of their cooking times) in a small amount of oil (I used olive with a touch of sesame). I used: slivered onions, thinly sliced seitan, a carrot, three baby bell peppers in various colors, broccoli, and a handful of corn kernels.

When the vegetables and protein are cooked, remove from heat and pour the sauce over them, tossing to combine.

Serve with the prepared sushi rice. Garnish with chopped scallions and/or sprinkled sesame seeds if you have them (I didn’t).

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Spicy Rice Vermicelli Soup

First of all, I’d just like to state for the record that I HATE SNOW. I am definitely moving some place that never sees so much as a flake of the awful stuff. Mark and I had plans to surprise his mother for her birthday on Tuesday by visiting her in Charleston. Due to a snow storm on Saturday, the day we’d planned to leave, we didn’t get to Charleston until Monday morning. On Tuesday, her birthday, she had to work from 8am to 8pm with a couple hours off in the middle, during which we got lunch. Since she’s off on Wednesdays, the family celebrated her birthday with dinner that night, shortly before which I looked at the weather forecast for back home and realized WE’RE SUPPOSED TO GET TWO FEET OF SNOW FRIDAY AND SATURDAY. Which meant we had to leave three days early in order to rescue Brachtune, as the cat sitter wouldn’t be able to get to her during a blizzard. I set a land speed record of getting us from Charleston to Fairfax in 7 hours, because I’m a race car driver. I didn’t let Mark drive because he drives like a granny.

Anyway, the theme of our truncated visit, in my mother-in-law’s eyes, seems to have been “Convince Mark and Renae to move to Charleston”. High on her list of reasons we should move there are: 1) no snow and 2) no traffic. Both of which are excellent, and enticing, reasons, however, they are both countered with my reasons not to move to Charleston, which are: 1) no Asian grocery stores and 2) no Wegmans. So my mother-in-law set out to take me on a tour of Charleston’s Asian grocery stores to prove I could survive there. She did some googling for Asian grocery stores in Charleston and her top search result was my blog post complaining about the lack of Asian grocery stores in Charleston. Not a great start. Despite this setback, she dug up three addresses for Asian grocery stores, not in Charleston (which really has none), but in North Charleston, which is a whole other city about half an hour north, and she packed Mark and me into the car for a road trip.

This is the Asian grocery store at the first address she found:

If that looks a lot more like a deserted office in an industrial park than an Asian grocery store, that’s because that’s what it is.

Fortunately, the second address was more fruitful:

That’s Hang Lung Grocery (that’s what was on the receipt), and I’m pleased to say their selection rated a B-.

Just don’t wander into that Fresh Fresh Fresh Meat department in back. Trust me.

Korean specialties were lacking, though, and the produce department was very disappointing (this is pretty much all of it):

… but they did have many necessary staples. They also had the world’s largest whisk!

(I’m sorry that Mark does not know how to focus a camera; also he was incredibly embarrassed by my forcing him to take my picture in the store.)

I think Mark, whose idea of a fun day is NOT a tour of Asian grocery stores, actually found as much stuff he wanted to buy as I did, his favorite being:

Thai Red Bull. At $8.99 for 10 bottles, it’s quite a bargain compared to the American stuff. Unfortunately, poor Mark was disappointed to find it tastes like syrup and is not carbonated. So I’m actually going to try using it as an extract and carbonating it myself through fermentation. I’ll let you know how that goes.

And in my final Charleston talk, another complaint of mine has long been that the food is terrible. Not only is it full of meat, meat-flavoured vegetables, meat, and more meat, but it’s all deep-fried. Mark ordered a lettuce and tomato sandwich one time and was horrified to find the tomato battered and fried. There have always been a few reliable places we could go, but overall, I have found Charleston to be pretty un-vegan friendly. But this seems to be changing! We went to the Mellow Mushroom and got a great pizza with vegan cheese (the vegan cheese is not on the menu, but you can ask for it). I was so surprised! Then we went to Three Little Birds, which is hidden behind a shopping center, but is worth seeking out, because they ALSO have vegan cheese! (And vegan soy milk and vegan yogurt.) This BBQ Tempeh Melt on spelt bread (I’m pretty sure that’s a Tofutti single) might not look that great, but it was really tasty:

All in all, Charleston’s definitely making headway, but something must be done about the Asian grocery store situation.

Now, did you think you’d ever get to today’s recipe? I got only a couple hours’ sleep last night, got up at 5:30 am (which is typically a bedtime for me), drove across three states, battled pre-blizzard crowds at the grocery store when I got home, unpacked, did laundry, and basically ran around all day like a lunatic, all on a single meal of cold cereal eaten at 6 am (and a few snacks in the car), which, believe me, is extremely unusual for me: I get irritable if I go three hours without food. So when I finally had a moment to stop and make something to eat, I was exhausted and wanted something in a hurry, but it had to be “real” food and not just another snack. So here’s the nearly instantaneous soup I threw together.

Spicy Rice Vermicelli Soup

4 cups vegan broth
2 Tbsp gochuchang (Korean red pepper paste…if you live in Charleston, you’re out of luck with this, I’m afraid)
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 small can mock abalone
4 oz firm tofu, diced
1 large or 2 small carrots, julienned
2 cups tender pea shoots (or other green, such as spinach)
small handful dried cloud ear fungus (No, I have no idea why I own or can tolerate this ingredient.)
4 oz (?) thin rice vermicelli (I forgot to weigh this for you before adding it to the soup, although I used too much anyway; use what you think is appropriate for 2 or 3 servings)
1 tsp chili oil

Bring the broth to a boil, then whisk in the gochuchang and rice vinegar. Add the rest of the ingredients, stirring the vermicelli well to avoid clumping. Heat for three minutes or until vermicelli is cooked. Note that the vermicelli likes to absorb liquid and will drink it all up if you give it a chance (so don’t overcook).

We seasoned ours with sriracha for additional spiciness.

Now excuse me, I’m going to go pass out.

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Drunken Noodles, more authentic

The last time I made drunken noodles, I warned that it was not my usual drunken noodles and not remotely authentic. My “usual” drunken noodles are generally me standing around the kitchen throwing things together and making it really spicy. Last night I decided to “get authentic” and actually look at recipes for drunken noodles. I did what I usually do in those cases and read a bunch of recipes, kept it all in the back of my head, then went into the kitchen and worked something out that was a conglomeration of what I’ve read. This recipe probably weighed the most heavily.

One thing I learned is the basil used in real drunken noodles is not Thai basil, as I thought, but holy basil. I wish I’d thought of this before I went to Super H the other night because they have holy basil, but as it was, I had NO basil and was still determined to make the dish. Which right there probably eliminates it from the realm of “authentic”. I did throw in a frozen basil cube, though, for (completely the wrong) basil flavour. (I just typed “flavor” like a normal American and Firefox – which on my laptop thinks I’m British for some unfathomable reason – underlined it as a typo and I went back and “corrected” it. It’s very distracting for Firefox to keep telling me words are misspelled when they aren’t. Curiously, Firefox also insists that “Firefox” is misspelled.) I don’t really recommend the frozen basil thing though, because in addition to probably getting you mocked by serious Thai food connoisseurs, these noodles could really have used some green basil leaves snaking through them for the sake of appearance if nothing else. They weren’t all that pretty. Mark mysteriously announced that in the wok, it looked like Hamburger Helper. Trust me, that’s not what you want to hear when you’re going for an authentic ethnic meal.

The good thing about this recipe is it’s super fast. I prepped everything in about 10 minutes, then just waited for Mark to come home. When he arrived, it was just 10 minutes, if that, to prepare. It looks like a lot of ingredients, but it’s mostly just sauces you’re mixing together at one time. Easy.

Drunken noodles should be very spicy; add as much heat as you can handle!

Drunken Noodles


6-8 oz wide rice noodles (banh pho)
2 Tbsp vegan oyster sauce (readily available in Asian grocery stores)
2 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 Tbsp seasoning sauce (This is usually Golden Mountain seasoning sauce, which is a Thai condiment similar to Maggi seasoning. The second bottle from the left in my photo is a Vietnamese seasoning sauce with ingredients that look identical to Golden Mountain, so I’m assuming it’s pretty much the same flavour-wise. Substitute Maggi seasoning sauce and/or more light soy sauce.)
1 Tbsp dark soy sauce
1 Tbsp vegan fish sauce (substitute more light soy, or omit if your mixture is too salty already)
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp sambel olek
1 tsp sugar (I used brown sugar, white is fine)
6 oz chicken-style seitan or cubed tofu
1 cup holy basil, or Thai basil, or if all else fails, regular basil, or if you’re completely desperate, a frozen basil cube
3 large shallots or 1/2 onion, diced
4 cloved garlic, minced or pressed
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 can baby corn
1 jalapeno (this is what I used because it’s what I had; Thai peppers would be more appropriate if you have them)
2 Tbsp canned jalapenos, chopped (optional; I still had some leftover from the Mexican pizza and nachos)

Because I had the canned jalapenos I wanted to use up, I figured I’d make a cheater’s version of one of the condiments you get in Thai restaurants. I took the canned jalapenos and covered them in rice vinegar (and a splash of the vegan fish sauce for good measure, but that’s just because I have it and feel like I should be using it). If you don’t want to bother with doing this, just add the vinegar to the sauce in the next step instead.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oyster, soy, seasoning, and fish (if using) sauces, sambel olek, and sugar. Set aside.

Prepare the rice noodles according to package instructions. What I do is bring a pot of water to a boil, remove it from the heat, add the noodles and stir, and let them sit for 3 to 5 minutes or until soft. Keep an eye on them; they soak quickly this way. Drain and run under cold water when soft, then toss lightly with a bit of oil to keep from sticking.

Chop your shallots or onion, carrots, baby corn, and hot pepper. Mince or press the garlic. (Not pictured: prepare your basil.)

Heat some oil in a hot wok, then add the shallots and fry for 2 or 3 minutes.

Add the carrots, baby corn, and hot pepper and fry for another couple of minutes, then add the garlic and fry another minute.

Add the tofu or seitan and fry another minute or two.

Mix in the noodles and basil.

My picture of the next step was too blurry to use, but add the sauce, mix well, and bring it all up to temperature. I added my jalapeno/vinegar condiment here because it was just me and Mark and we like it the same way, but you can also serve it at the table for guests to add to their own liking.

Bonus kitty picture:

It’s snowing here, heavier than they’d predicted. I was supposed to go up to Baltimore to see a friend I haven’t seen in several years, so I’m frustrated. Mark, despite the fact he spends most Saturdays sitting at his computer, is going stir crazy because he is being forced to sit at his computer instead of doing some myriad of unidentified outdoor activities he’d suddenly rather be doing, and keeps coming into my sunroom/library and dancing around like a maniac. Brachtune is the only content one. See above.

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