Menu of the Week: Vegetarian with a Chinese Twist

Photo by Gerard Lum

James Holloway and I cooked this meal just hours ago in Palo Alto, for our weekly Gourmet Vegetarian Dinner. While this isn’t a meal you could order in any Chinese restaurant I know, there’s certainly a Chinese influence in how it’s seasoned and put together. Clockwise from bottom left: Tempeh with Sweet and Sour Sauce, Salad of Napa Cabbage, Lotus Root and Carrot, Stir Fried Baby Bok Choy, Vegetable Fried Rice…more detailed descriptions…

Tempeh with Sweet and Sour Sauce: Tempeh was cut into cubes  and deep-fried.  The sauce: onions, fresh shiitake mushrooms and garlic  were sautéed, then simmered in apple juice, seasoned with soy sauce, rice vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and a little mirin.  This was then thickened with rice flour. The tempeh was added to this sauce then warmed through. At the last minute snow peas which had been already stir fried were added in.  We garnished with chopped green onion and cilantro.

Crisp Napa Cabbage, Carrot and Lotus Root Salad: Napa Cabbage was cut fine, carrots grated and lotus root sliced thin and blanched. James made a light and simple dressing of salt, lemon juice, rice vinegar and mirin. Toasted sesame seeds were sprinkled in at the last minute.

Stir Fried Baby Bok Choy: These greens were so small, we cooked them whole, only trimming a little off the ends.  The bok choy  were stir fried in a mixed oil consisting of peanut, soy and toasted sesame oils (Spectrum markets this) with Chinese five spice seasoning, fresh ginger, a little salt and soy sauce.

Vegetable Fried Rice: This was fried rice light, only a few of the veggies and a little bit of the organic long grain brown rice were actually fried.  This small quantity was mixed into the bulk of the rice to give it a fried rice quality while cutting down hugely on the amount of oil in the dish.  Vegetables added to the rice were: onions, carrots, celery, blanched cauliflower and at the last minute, thawed frozen peas.

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