Tamarind Rice Noodles with Mock Chicken

So there’s a new Korean grocery store in town: a new location of Lotte Plaza. I don’t usually shop at Lotte because Super H is closer and better, but I’d heard the new location was super-fab. So you know where I was on Saturday!

The new Lotte Plaza IS much better than the other location I’m familiar with, however, it’s no Super H-killer in my opinion, and as Super H is closer to my house, Super H still reigns supreme for me. (Lotte DID have a lot more Indian ingredients than Super H has, I must admit, however, I have an Indian grocery store nearby that I like.) However, I bought a TON of stuff for little money and I did score some cool things. One thing that I got at Lotte that I have never found at Super H is vegetarian fish sauce. Now that is not to say there is no vegetarian fish sauce at Super H. I’d be surprised if there isn’t. I’m always claiming Super H has “everything but ___________”, where the blank is some esoteric ingredient I’m looking for for months, then finally resort to buying online, and then find at Super H before my package even arrives. But Super H can be a little overwhelming and I guess I miss things.

Anyway, I was very excited about the vegetarian fish sauce because I’m always thinking, “man, I need vegetarian fish sauce!” I’ve made a few different versions, but I generally get annoyed with the extra step and just sub soy sauce. However, once I procured the stuff, it quickly became one of those, “what the heck do I DO with THIS?!” ingredients. I suddenly had NO idea why I would possibly need fish sauce in my life. This also happens to me when I order from May Wah. I get a huge batch of pretty realistic meat analogs and realized I have NO IDEA what to do with “meat”. It’s like I don’t even consider it something one would want to eat. I know I sometimes make or use mock meats, but it’s usually more as a garnish (kind of how the vegetable-loving Thomas Jefferson advised eating meat). I always end up completely baffled by the fake meat and it takes up space in the freezer for months. (Except the fish filets: Mark and I love fish sandwiches.)

So anyway, the point is I guess I’m far enough along in this vegan journey that I don’t need and really don’t even know what to do with fish sauce. Nonetheless, I bought it and it was exciting and I was determined to use it, so I made up the following recipe, which is kind of pad thai without peanuts, I guess.

I am slightly annoyed when I come across vegan recipes that call for things like vegetarian fish sauce that are really hard to find, so I don’t really like posting stuff like this. So I went looking for ideas for better homemade vegetarian fish sauce and I plan on working on that over the next couple of weeks, so that if I DO come up with more recipes that use my store-bought stuff, I can give you a good alternative to make at home. Which is a little dumb when you think about: I can’t think of what to do with the huge bottle of I have of the stuff, so I’m going to…make more? In the meantime, just use soy sauce in this recipe if you don’t have vegetarian fish sauce.

Tamarind Rice Noodles with Mock Chicken

4 oz wide rice noodles (banh pho)
2 large shallots
4 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp vegan “fish” sauce or soy sauce
2 tsp tamarind concentrate
1/4 cup water
2 drops stevia or 1 tsp brown sugar
2 carrots
1 medium onion
1 hot chili pepper
1/2 small Napa or savoy cabbage
8 oz vegan “chicken”, shredded
2 cups bean sprouts
4 green onions, chopped
1 lime, quartered

I see I managed to block the package of “chicken” with the onion in the ingredients photo. Nice job, Renae. I got it in the tofu section of the Asian grocery store and it’s just chicken-style seitan, though this brand is very soft, so use something more tender than chewy or firm.

Soak the noodles in warm water for half an hour or until soft. I usually get impatient and start heating the water, though I don’t bring it to a boil. If you do heat the water, watch the noodles – they’ll get soft quickly.

Drain them when they are al dente.

To make the sauce, place shallots, garlic, water, tamarind concentrate, stevia or sugar, sriracha, and “fish” sauce or soy sauce in a small food processor.

Process until smooth.

Stack leaves of cabbage together …

… roll them up …

… and slice. This will shred or chiffonade it.

Do all the prep work: slice the hot pepper, chop the onion in a medium dice, chop the carrot and green onions, and remove and “fluff” the “chicken”.

Heat a wok over high heat, add some peanut oil and heat for 30 seconds. Add the onions and stir fry for 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the carrot and hot pepper; fry for two minutes.

Add the “chicken” and stir.

Add the cabbage and fry for two minutes.

Turn down the heat and mix in the noodles.

Add the sauce and stir thoroughly.

Add the bean sprouts and half the green onions; mix.

Top each plateful with more green onions and cilantro to taste. Serve with lime wedge.

In other news, Mark got a friend for Atticus Fish this weekend. Meet Aughra!

He’s named after this fella!

Aughra supports the use of vegetarian fish sauce!

1 Comment »

  1. Jes Said,

    April 6, 2009 @ 9:15 pm

    Atticus fish is so pretty!

    In other news, I’m so excited because I’m going to suburb-land tomorrow to get my license plate and Super-H is on the way back. I’m going to do my darndest to find vegetarian fish sauce! I also haven’t been able to go to Super-H in 2 years, so I’m really looking forward to it.

    The meal looks great!

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