Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Vegan Experiments- aka Peanut Sauce is Good

Part of the Vegan Week is an attempt to create/use flavors that I don't typically use. I am very much a Mediterranean cook. Lots of olive oil, herbs, etc. So making an Asian dish was something I haven't done too often. I don't really have a background in it or a ton of skills, so I was pleasantly surprised that this dish turned out so well.

The first thing I did was roast an eggplant in the oven. I split it in half and stuck it in there, sprinkled with some salt (that's supposed to help leach out some of the water). Then I went to town on the sauce. Once that was finished I cut a block of tofu in half through the middle two make two thinner "steaks." I stuck this, with a sliced zucchini, in the oven on the same tray as the eggplant. I took it all out, cubed the tofu and stuck it in a frying pan, cubed the eggplant, and placed the zucchini all in the pan. Add soba noodles and the peanut sauce and I was done. I topped it with scallions and some toasted sesame seeds.

Now, what would I have done differently? I would have cooked the tofu a little more thoroughly. I don't mind it being super soft, but John thought it was a bit mushy. I also could do some real reading about how to properly cook an eggplant. The problem is I HAVE read how to do it a million times, and there are a million different ways. The whole, sprinkle with salt, lay out on a tray for 40 minutes, blot away the moisture. That seems too complex in my opinion. So I prefer a simpler method (aka- no method).

But we both really enjoyed the dish. And the MAIN thing I will change is little things about the peanut sauce. I used Julie's, a Foodbuzz Friend/Dorian's wife, recipe. It called for 1/2 a cup of peanut butter plus two additional tablespoons of sugar. I used Jif, which is already quite sweet. So when i first tasted the sauce it was SUPER sweet. It was fine, I even it out with an additional squirt of Sirachi, and another tablespoon or so of soy sauce and rice vinegar. IT perfectly mellowed out the sweetness and then it was dinner!

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