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Verjuice

The Eager Vegan...

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A vegan friend of mine recently got engaged to her hot-dog-slamming bacon-grease-frying boyfriend. After three years together- and many botched attempts at seducing him with homecooked vegan food- she has resigned herself to the likelihood that they will simply have eat different dinners for the remainder of their time together. Since they are banking on their partnership lasting a lifetime, I think it's really a shame that he hasn't been exposed to tofu or tempeh or whatever in dishes that really showcase the magic of these ingredients, not simply using them as some paltry meat-substitute.

I have no vegan inclinations, personally, but I love tofu and tempeh (although I avoid highly processed meat substitutes- pathetic stand-ins like Tofurkey, since I'm scared of TVP, and also, they're nasty). My friend enjoys all of that stuff, however, and in any case I suggested to her that we get together and cook a vegan meal with tofu or tempeh or seitan (which she adores) for her fiance, if not to win him over, then at least to get him to consider riding on the bandwagon every once in a while.

Any suggestions for killer tofu-and-friends-starring meals?


Edited by Verjuice (log)

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Agedashi tofu, with the dashi served on the side to maintain the crunch of the tofu. Mounds of slivered scallions and grated daikon.

Deep-fry some whole huagu, fresh shitake, or even cremini while you're at it. Just naked then brushed with a bit of good shoyu and lime, a bit of fleur de sel.

Lots of sake.


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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I think very few of the tofu-averse actually object to the flavor of tofu (despite what they say). Any flavorful marinade or sauce should take care of that. Texture is the main obstacle, I would think. How about decidedly low-tech ways of prepping it to get over that block, like freezing/pressing to make a chewier, "meatier" substance, or deep-frying to make great, addictive little crispy pillows?

By the way, does the eager vegan insist upon tofu/soy/etc in her quest for harmony at the dinner table? If the boyfriend is skittish, why not have dishes that don't incorporate "exotic" ingredients like these, and just let vegetables and grains stand alone?

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This isn't exactly what you are looking for, but I thought it might be helpful.

Speaking as an ex-vegetarian who once had a vegan boyfriend who constantly tried to "convert" me (he was always convinced I just hadn't had tofu/tempeh dishes done right. After many many meals, I still have no interest in these foods.), I would think that she might have better luck finding common ground if she doesn't use foods he might consider "weird." There are plenty of Asian, Italian and Mexican dishes that are vegan that they both might like, and he can make a piece of meat on the side if he likes. Suggest she buy Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone-many of the recipes are vegan, but most can be served with meat as well.

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Perhaps you are looking at this backwards. Maybe it is he that should be tempting her with fabulous meat filled recipes.

Like a nice meat shake.

yum.

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heheh Meatshake.

My very carnivorous husband likes pasta puttanesca with tofu. Cut firm tofu into cubes then marinate in balsamic and olive oil overnight. Toss the tofu into the dish for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

There are a million variations to this recipe of course, but here is a basic one.

http://www.vitacost.com/science/hn/Recipe/..._Puttanesca.htm


Edited by Cusina (log)

What's wrong with peanut butter and mustard? What else is a guy supposed to do when we are out of jelly?

-Dad

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Mock duck (made from pressed tofu skin) is actually pretty good but I wouldn't want to eat it constantly.

You could also try hiyyakko tofu (chilled cubes of silken tofu, topped with slivered scallions, bonito flakes and a light sprinkle of soy on the side). This is absolutely divine served alongside soba noodles.

The thing with tofu is to keep it as simple as possible. It's when you start to add things that the potential for gunkiness increases drastically. A dessert such as steamed tofu with honey is wonderful: steam a block of silken tofu in a wok or bamboo steamer and top with honey or honeycomb.

Soba

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You could also try hiyyakko tofu (chilled cubes of silken tofu, topped with slivered scallions, bonito flakes and a light sprinkle of soy on the side). This is absolutely divine served alongside soba noodles.

A dessert such as steamed tofu with honey is wonderful: steam a block of silken tofu in a wok or bamboo steamer and top with honey or honeycomb.

These are fantastic ways of eating tofu, but probably not acceptable to a vegan. Bonito flakes are definitely out, as is the dashi/tsuyu that accompanies soba noodles, as is (usually) honey.

For cooking some Japanese tofu dishes, kombu dashi is a decent alternative, I think.

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I was thinking more along the lines of the boyfriend. I'm more sympathetic to his needs than I am to hers. (Not to mention I already like tofu, so I'm trying to see how someone who doesn't like it for whatever reason could be tempted to try it.)

Soba

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As a former veg*n (who fell back into the carnivorous gutter, but that's another story) who dated, during vegan days, a fellow who was not only carnivorous, but "hated" everything not in the Suburban Canadian Food Groups (hamburger, other meats as long as recognizable, frozen peas or corn, potatoes and rice), lemme tell you, either tofu or tempeh is NOT the way to go.

Generally speaking. And "simple dishes that allow the flavour of tofu to shine" are not usually howling successes even with vegetarians or semi-veges who haven't tried it before. That is for the adventurous, the bold, the daring.

To lure a meat-eater into vegetarianism, the pasta, the casseroles, the comfort food are your best bet. The tofu heavily disguised, marinated, crumbled. The tofu quiche, perhaps, if you are lucky.

Once you have your blood-stained friend lured into eating the occasional meatless dinner WITHOUT bothering to get up and throw a steak into the Foreman, then comes the time to get experimental. Start small... perhaps with some of the more "ethnic" main dishes from your favourite Moosewood or Anna Thomas cookbook or Bryanna Clark Grogan cookbook. An exotic spice here, an unfamiliar vegetable there. He'll try it. He'll like it.

Get bolder with the tofu. Careful with tempeh; if your target hates mushrooms, chances are s/he will never like tempeh, no matter what you do to it.

Then you can slide into the simple grilled tofu topped with miso.

Hey, the Ex-Boyfriend said of me after we'd parted, "You know what I really miss about you? Your cooking." I would've preferred he mentioned something else, I suppose... but coming from a guy who formerly thought a President's Choice meat lasagna was the pinnacle of gour-may, it was a compliment.

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I have been feeding people with all kinds of dietary restrictions, be they disease related (allergies, celiac-sprue) to moral/ethical, i find it is best to search out recipes that require no substitution at all. buddhist sour soup is a good example (though ive seen versions with pork). then the dishes do not come across as 'compromised.'

one thing i've noticed about carnivores and tofu/tempeh(along with compassrose): they don't complain if they don't know, and they don't notice if the tofu doesn't have corners. Smash it, cut it oddly, crumble it, it doesn't much matter.


"The Internet is just a world passing around notes in a classroom."

---John Stewart

my blog

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I thank you kindly for the suggestions.

I will elaborate a bit on Ms. Vegan's keenness for tofu, tempeh and seitan. An ovolactovegetarian diet is a heck of a lot more accomodating than a vegan one.

Ms. Vegan makes a nice "Almondaise", which is a hollandaise-like all purpose spread made with almonds, nutritional yeast and olive oil. She also like salad dressings and dips made with pureed silken tofu; a personal favorite includes garlic, parsley and fruity Provencal olive oil, whipped with silken tofu.

Ms. Vegan has hyperthyroidism and generally avoids carbohydrates because they are so taxing on her thryoid. This includes grains like rice (which contains cadmium). Protein is good. Quinoa in moderation. Beans and nuts are great vegan foods and easy on the thyroid, but she eats them with every meal and between meals, and they get tiresome. Other high protein foods are a natural alternative for her (yes, a medium rare steak comes to mind), so she relies on things like Fakin' Bacon and Scrambled Tofu in her breakfast burritos, and "cottage tofu" salad on sandwiches, seitan on her pizza (hey, it could be worse: at least she's not gluten-free!), and tempeh added to rice dishes and casseroles or curries after she has served her SO his plain portion and added the meat, cooked separately, to his plate. He finds it all rather off-putting, and claims that no dish has ever benefitted from the addition of tempeh and tofu; THIS is precisely where he is wrong. She can't make him like the stuff, but he won't ever give it a fair chance if he only encounters it lurking discretely in his starches. He doesn't need the bonus protein, mind you. She would simply like him to stop detesting it,

These are some great suggestions; agedashi tofu got me hooked on tofu when I was eleven years old- in fact, I just had some for dinner.

Another idea: Highly seasoned crumbled tofu in a burrito instead of ground beef for the skeptical carnivore, yes.

Also: Indeed, most things taste good after they're fried, skewered and served with peanut sauce!

Ms. Vegan once added crumbled tofu, to a dish of spaghetti squash and ratatouille. He couldn't tolerate a single bite.

He swears that tofu tastes like curdled baby sick.

Methinks it was the ratatouille.

Favorite tofu dish? I'm all about the agedashi.


Edited by Verjuice (log)

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A mouthful of agedashi tofu is the Face of God.

Tempeh needs to be deep-fried to be palatable. Then much Thai green curry, coconut milk, fish sau-- Oops. Okay, well not fish sauce.


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Perhaps you are looking at this backwards. Maybe it is he that should be tempting her with fabulous meat filled recipes.

Like a nice meat shake.

yum.

took the words right out of my e-mouth....

maybe a bucket of blood and mechanically separated chicken parts would do her some good...


"Make me some mignardises, &*%$@!" -Mateo

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Bacon.


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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He finds it all rather off-putting, and claims that no dish has ever benefitted from the addition of tempeh and tofu; THIS is precisely where he is wrong.

As someone that has had thousands of meals with tofu and tempeh (I used to work in a natural food cafe) I agree with his assertion. Furthermore, it makes no sense to tell someone they are WRONG for not liking a food they have tried. Hopefully she doesn't have this same arrogant attitude-it will most likely just lead to resentment on his part.

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Well, sounds to me like there is a certain amount of pouty stubbornness on both sides here. "Tofu nasty! Won't try it!"

It's an ingredient. Sounds like she is using it as an ingredient, rather than for the most part presenting it to him bare... just what I would do (and did). Sometimes it adds something, sometimes it's a mistake, sometimes it's just there, but I think that can be said of any ingredient and I do mean any ingredient. And yes, vegan is a lot harder than ovo-lacto (one reason I spent a bare two years as a vegan, but more than ten lacto-ovo), but not necessarily less tasty.

What's she doing eating soy, anyway, if her thyroid condition is such that she avoids grains? My understanding was that soy products were worse.

Give 'em separate sets of pots for a wedding gift. :rolleyes:

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wow, I now realize my previous suggestion was completely out of the question. Sorry.

Um,... this is a tough one. I can't blame the guy for not wanting to eat in her restricted way if he doesn't have to or want to. My mother has a lot of food restrictions and part of her deal in life is that she cooks two meals nightly. Something very plain for herself and something more palatable for Dad. They may just have to accept that they will be eating different stuff. It doesn't have to be a complete deal breaker. My parents marriage is very congenial and has been for 40 years.


What's wrong with peanut butter and mustard? What else is a guy supposed to do when we are out of jelly?

-Dad

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Nor is there any rule that says she has to do the double cooking...

True enough. My (vegetarian) husband is certainly not sharing my current All-Lean-Protein'n'Fibrous-Carbs cycled cutting diet. (He just worries about me on low-carb days.) I make my solitary chicken salads or whatever, and if I have time I do him up some Korean tofu for his salad. Although it is nice to eat at the same table where possible.

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Please explain to me what agedashi tofu is!


Noise is music. All else is food.

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Please explain to me what agedashi tofu is!

So much to say but it's so simple.

I found a quote of my own on the Dinner thread:

I roll the silken tofu cubes in cornstarch five times to develop a sturdy and crusty crust. The shoyu, mirin, and bonito dashi is served seperately as a dipping sauce. Salad of slivered scallions and grated daikon (always wring out the daikon after grating) with togarashi. Gari and takuan. Large tempura shrimp (eaten shell and legs still on). Fried shrimp heads. Sake.

Edited by Jinmyo (log)

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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I *hate* tofu. I really can't stand it. I cook it several times a week because my wife, who is not a vegetarian or vegan, loves it. She truly does in every way.

I've found that the only way I can truly stand tofu is as a textural device, not a flavor device. It has to be totally covered up or I just sort of roll it in my mouth unhappily like a dog chewing peanut butter.

Along Jinmyo's thinking, bacon-wrapped tofu baked so that the bacon gets really crispy is pretty good. I suggest only using firm tofu for a carnivore, too.

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