March 10, 2009

What's cooking? Udon, veggies, Vietnamese soup

It's been a stressful week as we're trying to find a place to live in the city where two of our our kids and their families live, nearly 2,000 miles away from where we live now. We've got our kids helping by visiting in person the places we find online, but it's still confusing to know what to do. We found what seemed like a perfect house to rent, but the kids think it might be a little too urban and not "neighborly" enough, and also too far from one of their homes. They looked at another one tonight they think would be good, but it's only for one year, which means we'd have to move again in a year. One minute I'm excited to be moving near the kids, and the next I'm upset about leaving our home and friends, and freaked out over how complicated the whole thing is. Not much of my energy has been going towards creative cooking, but that doesn't mean we haven't been eating well. We've been depending on old (and newer) favorites that we don't have to think about. I'm posting a meal my son made (he doesn't use recipes, and I walked in to late to see what he did) and a great soup we've been eating ever since I saw it on Vegan Feast Kitchen. Bryanna has graciously allowed me to reprint her recipe, and I've noted the changes we made to suit our tastes.

Here's a delicious udon, tofu and green pea stir fry created by my son.

The udon was accompanied by a red pepper, bok choy and mushroom dish, plus rice.

Make soup!
The following great recipe, which we recently tried and loved, comes from Notes From the Vegan Feast Kitchen written by Bryanna Clark Grogan, and is reprinted with permission. I loved it so much I wanted to share it with my readers.

Vegan Vietnamese Fisherman's soup
Servings: 6

The fresh-tasting soup, despite the long list of ingredients, is easy to put together. (If you are really in a hurry, you can use chopped garlic and ginger from jars, and already-shredded cabbage in a bag.) It's very low in calories and fat, but filling and spicy. You can use authentic Vietnamese ingredients, or substitute more common North American ones, still with good results. Bean sprouts are a must, though!

  • 6 large dried shiitake (or Chinese black forest) mushrooms
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 3 cups good-tasting vegetarian "chicken-style" broth
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage (I use savoy)
  • 1 can (19 ounces) pineapple tidbits, unsweetened, with juice
  • 1 large onion, chopped or thinly sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, in matchstick pieces
  • 1 cup canned or fresh diced tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 stalks lemon grass OR 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  • 2 tablespoons sugar or 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped (1 teaspoon)
  • 1 teaspoon Asian (fish-free) red pepper sauce (or to taste)
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces medium-firm tofu OR extra-firm silken tofu, cut into small cubes (can be reduced-fat)
  • OPTIONAL: 2 tablespoons dulse flakes or nori flakes OR a small piece of kombu seaweed
    Last-minute additions:
    • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped mint, basil, or cilantro (or 2 teaspoons dried)
    • 2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate or paste OR 1/4 cup lime or lemon juice
    • 2 pinches salt
      Garnish: fresh bean sprouts, and chopped or slivered green onions for garnish
      1. Soak the dried mushrooms for 30 minutes in the 2 cups boiling water, covered. After 30 minutes, drain them, saving the soaking broth. Trim off the tough stems, which you can discard. Slice the mushroom caps thinly. While the mushrooms soak, prepare all the other ingredients.
      2. In a large pot, mix the broth, cabbage, pineapple and juice, onion, carrot, sliced mushrooms, mushroom soaking water, tomatoes, soy sauce, lemon grass or lemon peel, sugar, ginger, optional seaweed, garlic, red pepper sauce, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn down to medium-low and simmer, covered, just until the cabbage and carrots are crisp-tender-- about 15 minutes. Add the tofu, stirring gently, and simmer about 5 more minutes.
      3. Add the herbs, tamarind concentrate or lemon or lime juice, and salt.
      4. Taste for seasoning. Serve each bowl topped with fresh bean sprouts and slivered green onions.
        Our changes: We used low sodium vegetable broth, bok choy instead of cabbage, only 2 tablespoons of tamari soy sauce and no extra salt. We added fine rice vermicelli and yuba. (Yuba is Chinese, not Vietnamese, but we really like it.) We didn't have bean sprouts this time.


        1. Your son is such a good cook! I hope the house hunting will be resolved soon. It is soooo stressful!

        2. I love when any of my kids do the cooking. It's bound to be good.

        3. Everything looks delicious! I do so hope that you find the home you are looking for soon Andrea :)

        4. Thanks for your comments. We may have found a house to rent!


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