Quick Korean-ish Dinner

Since seeing SusanV’s Korean-Style Cucumber Salad on Fat Free Vegan the other day, I’ve been thinking about it. Although I probably could, like SusanV, eat it as a meal, I accompanied it with a quick hot meal that used up some veggies I need to get rid of.

Korean Cucumber Salad
adapted from Fat Free Vegan

2 cucumbers, thinly sliced
1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp Korean red chili flakes (these are pretty mild; if you can’t find them, use much less cayenne), or to taste
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp sesame oil

Thinly slice the cucumber, using a mandolin, food processor, or your trusty chef’s knife:

Do the same with the onion.

Juice the lemon half.

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl.

Refrigerate for at least half an hour.

Thrown-together Korean-like vegetable meal

My premise with this dish was if I was going for a Korean theme, I could clean out my crisper drawers and just toss the veggies with some gochujang. So that’s what I did. I had much of a very large zucchini, which I sliced on the mandolin (thicker than the cucumber):

I sliced up a couple of carrots:

And two small heads of broccoli, the florets of which I microwaved for a minute because I prefer to partially cooking my broccoli before stir-frying.

In a small bowl, I mixed together 2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste), 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, 1 drop stevia, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, and 1 tablespoon water.

Then I heated up a wok, added some oil and then the carrots, which I stir fried for a minute or two:

Then I added the zucchini slices (which I chopped in half first, as they were very large), and fried for about three minutes:

I added the broccoli and cooked just long enough to heat it …

… and finally added the sauce, stirring to combine and heat.

Served with rice made in a rice cooker, this meal took maybe 15 minutes to prepare. Not the most exciting meal in the world (and probably very inauthentic), though the cucumbers were yummy, but it was filling, healthy, and tasted good. And I’m free of cucumbers and zucchini!! (Until I visit the farmer’s market Wednesday morning…)

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Tomato Rasam

I often order tomato rasam as a starter in Indian restaurants because I love the tomato-y, sour, super-spicy flavor of it. Seeing super-ripe, very flavorful tomatoes at the farmers’ market makes me think of it and this week I managed to keep Mark off the four large tomatoes I bought, so I was very excited to make rasam with them tonight. I based my recipe off Indira’s version on Mahanandi, though I also tried to make it taste like what I get at the restaurant down the street from us. To make it more like the latter, I think I need to spice it up a bit more next time, but this was delicious and Mark, who doesn’t normally like Indian food (what’s wrong with him?!) really liked it, too.

Tomato Rasam

4 large, very ripe tomatoes
2″ piece tamarind
2 cups water, divided
1″ lump jaggery, or 1 Tbsp brown sugar
a few springs fresh cilantro, or cheat like me and used a lump of frozen cilantro
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
8 dried red chilis + 1/2 tsp red chili flakes (or whatever amount/combination gives the heat you can tolerate)
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp asoefetida
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp oil (I used mustard oil)

Core the tomatoes.

Chop them roughly and place in large bowl (or right in the soup pot so as to not dirty a dish unnecessarily).

Here is what tamarind looks like when you buy it in a package. I think it looks like nougat. You can also buy tamarind concentrate, which I always have on hand, but since you have to squeeze the tomatoes I figured I’d squeeze the tamarind right along with them (as Indira describes).

Break off a piece of the tamarind and put in the bowl with the tomatoes. Tamarind purchased this way contains the stones of the fruit. If you feel one when you are squeezing, you can remove it, but you need not worry about it because the soup will be strained later.

Add a cup of water to the bowl or pot, wash your hands, then stick them in and start squeezing! Try to grab and squeeze some of the tamarind every time because it needs a bit more massaging than the tomatoes to break down. Here’s the bowl after a minute or so of squeezing:

Continue until the tomatoes are well broken up.

If the tomatoes are in a bowl, transfer to a large soup pot. Add the remaining water, jaggery or sugar, cilantro, salt and pepper, ground coriander and ground cumin, and chili peppers and/or flakes.

Meanwhile, heat a mere 1/4 tsp of oil in a small frying pan, then add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds and fry until the mustard seeds pop, then add to the soup.

Cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes. I like mine pretty sour and when it didn’t taste sour enough to me, I added some tamarind concentrate.

Place a colander into a large bowl (it doesn’t matter if seeds and other small matter pass through, so I didn’t use a sieve because they are so hard to clean) , then pour the rasam into it.

Push down on the tomatoes with the back of a soon or a spatula.

Remove the strainer and there’s your rasam!

You can eat it plain, or do as we did and put some rice in your bowl …

… and then add the soup.

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2666 Brussels sprouts

No, I didn’t buy 2,666 Brussels sprouts. What I did was read a book with 2,666 pages. Okay, not really. It was 898 pages and it was called 2666. I finished it a couple of weeks ago. I don’t know if any of you are familiar with it, but it consists of five parts that are only loosely related. The third is The Part about Fate (Fate being a person) and it contains a character named Barry Seaman, who delivers a long speech that contains a recipe for Brussels sprouts. You read that right. So I decided to make those Brussels sprouts!

Here is the original, direct from the book:

I see lots of fat people in this church, he said. I suspect few of you eat green vegetables. maybe now is the time for a recipe. The name of the recipe is: Brussels Sprouts with Lemon. Take note, please. Four servings calls for: two pounds of brussels sprouts, juice and zest of one lemon, one onion, one sprig of parsley, three tablespoons of butter, black pepper, and salt. You make it like so. One: Clean sprouts well and remove outer leaves. Finely chop onion and parsley. Two: In a pot of salted boiling water, cook sprouts for twenty minutes, or until tender. Then drain well and set aside. Three: Melt butter in frying pan and lightly saute onion, add zest and juice of lemon and salt and pepper to taste. Four: Add brussels sprouts, toss with sauce, reheat for a few minutes, sprinkle with parsley, and serve with lemon wedges on the side. So good you’ll be licking your fingers, said Seaman. No cholesterol, good for the liver, good for the blood pressure, very healthy.

Now, I don’t know where Seaman got the idea his recipe does not contain cholesterol, because it certainly does, unless by “butter” he meant “vegan margarine,” which I doubt. My interpretation, of course, is cholesterol-free! The only change I made was the margarine, and dried parsley since I didn’t have any fresh.

Barry Seaman’s Brussels Sprouts with Lemon

2 lbs Brussels sprouts, cleaned and trimmed
2-3 Tbsp vegan margarine
1 onion, minced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 tsp dried parsley (or a sprig of fresh, minced)
salt and freshly ground pepper

Wash and trim those sprouts.

Bring a pot of water to a boil then add some salt and the sprouts. Cook until tender (15 to 20 minutes).

Meanwhile, zest …

… and juice the lemon.

And mince the onion.

When the sprouts are tender, drain and rinse under cool water to stop cooking.

In a large frying pan or a wok, heat the margarine …

… then add the onions and parsley and fry for 5 minute or until soft.

Stir in the lemon juice and zest, salt, and pepper.

The toss in the sprouts and cook just until heated through.

I’m sorry I forgot to include my lemon wedge because it brightened up the plate, but here’s the meal:

What do I think of the culinary prowess of Mr Seaman? It was an okay change of pace, but I prefer my roasted Brussels sprouts, and I suspect Mark does as well because he didn’t eat as many as usual. But I still thought it was fun to cook from a novel. I should pay more attention to food in the books I read and try to recreate some fictional meals. You don’t usually get a character telling you exactly how to make a dish but it would be fun to make things up.

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I didn’t bother documenting my preparations for Thanksgiving because I didn’t do anything unique, unusual, creative, or different, so I figured I’d spare the world a boring post. But then it occurred to me that I might be interested to know what I did this year, next year. I only cooked for me and Mark. We went to the parental homestead, but my parents make a traditional meal and there’s no way I could ever convince them to eat vegan on Thanksgiving. Maybe some other day, but not Thanksgiving. My mother does make vegan portions of her dishes where possible, so I was saved from making a few things like mashed potatoes. It took me about three hours to knock out the following:

1 seitan “turkey”
green beans
“turkey” gravy
cranberry sauce
1 loaf of bread

In the past, I’ve spent more than three hours simply trying to decide what to make, perusing my cookbooks and the internet, looking for recipes and ideas. I’ve found it’s so much easier to just go into the kitchen and make stuff up as I go along!

I cheated on the bread: I had frozen a loaf before the final proof on Sunday, and just popped it out of the freezer and into the refrigerator the night before, then proofed for longer than usual before baking. And it wasn’t for really for Thanksgiving as my mother had two different kinds of rolls. The bread was for leftover “turkey” sandwiches later. Mark was so excited about the “leftover” sandwiches he started eating them the night before!

Everything I made (other than the bread) was totally off the cuff, and since I wasn’t planning to post it, I didn’t even try to mind measurements. But here is approximately what I did:

Seitan “Turkey”

2 1/4 cups (1 box) vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup soy flour
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp white pepper
2 cups vegan “chicken” broth

Mix dry ingredients together. Add broth. Form into log, wrap in cheesecloth, tying off ends like a Tootsie Roll, then pressure cook for 45 minutes. Remove from pressure cooker, set in foil inside a baking pan, and baste with some sort of sauce (I used one from the Tofutti site: some apricot preserves, soy sauce, pepper, and water). Bake at 375 degrees for an hour, basting periodically.


10-12 slices whole grain bread, sliced and cubed
1/2 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 half Granny Smith apple, chopped
1/2 tsp rubbed sage
1/2 tsp cracked rosemary
freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup vegan “chicken” broth

Because my bread was pretty fresh, I spread the cubes out on a baking sheet, then after baking another loaf, turned the oven off, let it cool for a few minutes (it had been at 430 degrees Fahrenheit), stuck the sheet in the oven and let the bread cubes dry out for somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes. Then in a cast iron pan, I sauted the onion and celery until soft, then added the apple, sage, rosemary, and pepper and stirred, then mixed in the bread cubes. Then I poured the broth over everything and combined until the cubes were mostly soft. I moved the mixture to a Pryex baking dish, patted it down, and baked at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for half an hour. Mark was obsessed with the stuffing and tried to eat it all before we even made it to my parents’.

“Turkey” Gravy

2 Tbsp Earth Balance
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 cups vegan “chicken” broth

In a heavy-bottomed pot, melt the Earth Balance. Whisk in the flour and other dry ingredients to form a roux. Slowly whisk in the broth, adding a little at a time to avoid lumps. Heat until thickened.

Non-Casserole Green Beans

1 pound green beans, trimmed
shallot salt (from Penzeys)
fried onions

I used to loooove green bean casserole, although my mother always made it with cream of celery soup instead of cream of mushroom because I hate mushrooms. Even as late as last year, I would make vegan versions of the traditional green bean casserole. But the idea of adulterating green beans that way sort of makes me ill these days, so I cooked the green beans for 5 to 7 minutes in boiling, salted water, then drained, tossed with shallot salt, and topped with fried onions. They were almost entirely cooked, but I left myself a little leeway for continued cooking when reheating them the next day. If I were serving them right away, I would have cooked for another minute or two.

Cranberry Sauce

12 oz fresh cranberries
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup orange juice

Heat all ingredients in heavy-bottomed pot until cranberries have all burst and mixture is somewhat thickened (it will thicken more upon cooling). Refrigerate for at least an hour.

My mother made a vegan dessert! Look!

It’s wacky cake! Here’s the recipe:

Classic Wacky Cake

Serves 6 to 8

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
5 T. vegetable oil
1 T. white vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup water
confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

Whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in the prepared pan. Make 1 large and 2 small craters in the dry ingredients. Add the oil to the large crater and the vinegar and vanilla separately to the small craters. Pour the water into the pan and mix until just a few streaks of flour remain (but break up lumps). Immediately put the pan in the oven.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 30 minutes. Cool in the pan, then dust with confectioners’ sugar. (The cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days).

Mum’s tip: don’t dust with the confectioners’ sugar until just before serving because the moisture in the cake will soak it up, causing it to “disappear”.

From “America’s Best Lost Recipes,” by the editors of Cook’s Country.

Per serving (based on 8 servings): 238 calories, 3 grams protein, 9 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 37 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 264 milligrams sodium.

After we humans ate dinner, my parents’ silly dogs got some dog treats. This is Shannon scarfing them down:

This is him smiling about it:

Those treats were lip-smacking good!

Sophie Mae didn’t want to be photographed eating, but here she is being wary of me:

And that’s it for today! I hope all my American friends had a great Thanksgiving yesterday (or last month for the Canadians), even if the Australian Muck accidentally wished me a Happy Independence Day instead.

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