Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Vegan Eats World: Review, Giveaway, and Spicy Drunken Noodles recipe!

The Wednesday Review:
Reviewing books, products and more you may be interested in

This giveaway is now closed. Thank you to all who entered!  Read on for the review and a free recipe, however! 

This is the fifth book in a series of giveaways!  
Like us on Facebook to stay up to speed with all our giveaways!  

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.  They did not pay me for my review.  As some of you know far too well, the opinions expressed herein most definitely are and perhaps unfortunately always will be my own! 

Dear cooks of international flair, 

I've been having way too much fun with this giveaway series.  Not only am I loading up on a stack of fresh cooking material for the kitchen and hopefully helping you to do the same, but I've been "meeting" readers from far and wide!  We've had winners in Missouri, Utah, Texas and Massachusetts, and I am curious to see where this next book will go!  The last book we gave away was Nourishing Traditions, and it sailed off to a new home in Utah!  We're giving away another book from the outstanding press, Da Capo Lifelong {follow them on Facebook for recipes, giveaways, and information on fabulous cooking books}; they generously offered us this giveaway on top of the one they just sponsored for Vegan Cupcakes!  

Speaking of generous, everybody's a winner with this review, because Da Capo's publicist gave permission to share a recipe for all of us to enjoy!  Read on for Spicy Drunken Noodles ... 

This is a book on international cooking, and I guess it also happens to be vegan - which is almost beside the point when you start exploring these flavorful, exotic dishes that weirdly can be made as easily as a bowl of spaghetti, in your own kitchen!  

This is also a huge book.  Almost as big as my (huge) baby, it boasts over 300 recipes from around the world! 

What's with vegan eating?  Vegan and vegetarian eating may be a pseudo-faddish lifestyle for some Westerners, but in many parts of the world it's just a way of life; animal products may be costly or hard to come by, and people rely on a plant-based diet in many regions as a matter of necessity.  Not surprisingly then, fabulously creative and delicious recipes have developed in remote parts of the world, meals which are consumed by everybody, not just card-carrying "vegans"!  You might be living a purely vegan lifestyle and seeking new material to jazz up your weeknights, or you may be roasting a turkey this afternoon but looking for a nutritious side dish with a little Mediterranean flair, or hoping to use up a few extra eggplant and thinking a Lebanese Moussaka Stew might fit the bill.  I, a die-hard self-professed advocate of whole milk, cheese and bacon, am delighting over the traditional Garlicky Potato Dip from Greece, Coriander Rye Muffins from Russia, Okra Masala (Bindi Bhaji) from India, and Takeout Stir Fry Noodles with Mushrooms and Greens from China!

What's inside: Rather than dividing the recipes by region, which is a cute idea but can be inconvenient when you want to quickly find a soup for a cool evening, these recipes are conveniently and handily divided by food genre.  Preceded by a section familiarizing novice cooks on tools, ingredients and lingo, there are twelve fat chapters in this book: Spice Blends (like Olive Oil Harissa Paste), The Three Protein Amigos: Tofu, Seitan and Tempeh (like Lemon and Olive Chickpea Seitan), Pickles, Chutneys and Saucier Sauces (like Whipped Garlic Dip), Salads, Spreads and Sandwiches (like Avocado Mango Cashew Salad), Soups (like White Bean Farro Soup with Chickpea Parmigiana), Curries Hearty Stews and Beans (like Mexican Homemade Refried Beans), Dumplings Breads and Pancakes (like Ethiopian Savory Crepes), Asian Noodles to Mediterranean Pasta (like Sizzling Seitan Pho Noodle Soup), Hearty Entrees (like Korean Veggie Bulgogi), Robust Vegetable Entrees and Sides (like Crisp Stir-Fry Greens with Veggie Oyster Sauce), Rice and Whole Grains: One-Pot Meals and Supporting Roles (like Crusty Persiaon Rice with Dill and Fava Beans), and Sweet Beginnings (like Walnut Spice Sticky Cake).

Recipes are all accompanied by a few little purple symbols, helping cooks that are seeking a dish to fit certain specifications: 123 denotes the easiest recipes; 45 denotes under-45-minute recipes; a chair marks recipes that are mostly inactively cooking on the stove or in the oven so you can be out of the kitchen; $ indicates inexpensive ingredients; low-fat marks recipes with a tablespoon or less of added fats; G indicates gluten-free recipes; and S marks recipes without soy.

Of course, the book is scattered throughout with beautiful color photographs of many of the delicious recipes you'll be encountering.  With recipes using traditional fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, recipes that bring on the heat with berebere and harissa, recipes that are familiar and recipes that are bizarre, there is something exploratory and exciting for everybody in this book.  But perhaps we should let the recipes speak for themselves?  I'll leave you with the recipe for Spicy Drunken Noodles, and then you can check out the book on your own or enter the giveaway below!

photo courtesy of Isa Chandra Moskowitz
used with permission

Pad Kee Mao 
(Spicy Drunken Noodles) 
From Vegan Eats World, reprinted with permission

Serves 2 to 3

There are many colorful stories about the origins of 
this addictive, fiery Thai noodle dish, but the strangest 
one may be about the wife who was so fed up 
with her drunken husband she turned to revenge 
via loading up his favorite noodles with fistfuls of 
hot chile peppers. Seems like her plan backfired, 
because the heady mixture of savory sauces and 
fiery chilies made him (and countless fans after) 
swoon and ask for seconds. Your homemade spin on 
this takeout favorite need not be punishingly hot to 
be just as good.

Thai soy sauce: Like her sister recipe, Pad See Ew (page 230), Pad Kee Mao is best made with genuine Thai soy sauces. One bottle of each Thai sauce will last for dozens of noodle dishes, making spontaneous Thai-style noodles an easy weekday meal treat. Chinese- or Japanese-style sauces don’t have the correct flavors; your dish may be good, but it won’t taste like Thai food. Thai thin soy sauce (light amber color, thin consistency, and strong, salty taste) does the job of standing in for fish sauce. Golden Mountain sauce is a special Thai seasoning sauce with a consistency and flavor slightly like Worcestershire sauce; it’s vegan, with complex flavors that soy sauce alone can’t cover. Thai black soy sauce and sweet soy sauce are thick and sweet sauces with molasses-like notes; both have their own unique character, but in a pinch are interchangeable. But for the most authentic tasting dish, use both!

Authentic Thai vegetables are much more challenging to find than the sauces, but a little cabbage, carrot, or even a few florets of broccoli or a handful of snow peas are fine.

Regarding the rice noodles, you have license to use whatever you can find. Many Thai restaurants use slippery, chewy, wide fresh rice noodles.  These noodles are delicious and will make the most authentic-tasting dish but can be difficult to find. If you can’t find sliced, fresh flat rice noodles at Thai markets, investigate Chinese markets for bags of soft fresh rice ho fun noodles: huge rice noodles that resemble a floppy kitchen towel folded into a squishy bundle. Regular Pad Thai rice sticks, if not authentic, are an easy-to-find substitute.

If you can’t use fresh ho fun noodles immediately, they can be refrigerated but will be stiff after being chilled a few hours (but they can keep for weeks, so it’s worth stashing an extra bag in the fridge for future stir-fries). To refresh ho fun noodles, steam them for 4 to 8 minutes until soft and pliable enough to unfold; the older the noodle, the more steaming required. Gently unfold this super noodle (if it rips a little don’t worry), and slice or tear into pieces. Don’t worry if they’re not pretty, they’ll taste like dynamite in noodle stir-fries. Keep the fresh noodles covered with a moist paper towel until ready to stir-fry.

Drunken Noodle Sauce

2 tablespoons Chinese vegetarian stir-fry sauce (see page 13)
2 tablespoons Thai thin soy sauce (see page 19)
4 teaspoons brown sugar or palm sugar
1 tablespoon Thai Golden Mountain sauce (see page 18)
2 tablespoons Thai black soy sauce or Thai sweet soy sauce (see page 19), or
1 tablespoon of each sauce
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons lime juice
2 to 3 teaspoons Asian chili garlic sauce or hot red pepper flakes

Noodles and Vegetables

12 ounces Thai fresh flat rice noodles or Chinese fresh ho fun noodles
3 tablespoons peanut, canola, or grapeseed oil
5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3 to 4 red or green hot chile peppers
(Thai, Indian, or serrano), sliced into paper-thin rings
One 8-ounce package fried tofu or 1 recipe
Savory Baked Tofu (page 50), sliced into
1/4-inch thin strips
3 cups shredded Napa or savoy cabbage
1 carrot, sliced into matchsticks
3 scallions, both green and white parts, thinly sliced
1/2 cup lightly packed Thai basil leaves
1/2 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves
Lime wedges for squeezing over noodles

1. If the rice noodles are very fresh and soft, you don’t need to cook them; just tear into bite sized pieces if needed and proceed to the stir-fry. If already sliced, gently separate the noodles and set aside, or refold the ho fun several times into a wide tube and slice into wide, 2-to 3-inch strips. If the noodles have been refrigerated and are hard, set up a bamboo or metal steamer over boiling water. Steam the Thai noodles or the whole, unsliced ho fun until soft (4 to 8 minutes), then turn off the heat and keep covered. If using ho fun, when the noodle is cool enough to handle, either slice into strips or tear into pieces 2 to 3 inches wide with your fingers. Keep covered until ready to use.

2. In a liquid measuring cup whisk together the vegetarian stir-fry sauce, Thai thin soy sauce, brown sugar, Golden Mountain sauce, black or sweet soy sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice, and chili sauce. Chop the vegetables and arrange all of the ingredients within easy reach of the stove for the stir-fry.

3. Preheat a wok or large skillet over high heat, then pour in 1 tablespoon of the oil. When the oil is rippling, stir in the garlic and chilies, stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the tofu and fry another 2 to 3 minutes until the tofu browns on the edges. Transfer the tofu to a dinner plate. Add another tablespoon of oil and add the carrot, cabbage, and white part of scallions and fry for 2 minutes until slightly softened. Transfer to the plate with the tofu.

4. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil, add the noodles, and stir-fry for 1 minute. If the noodles start to stick, dribble in a teaspoon or two of water; whenever sticking starts to happen add a little water but don’t add too much or the noodles will become mushy. Now drizzle on half of the sauce, stir-fry for 2 minutes and return the tofu, cabbage, carrot, green parts of scallions, and the remaining sauce. Stir in the basil leaves and cilantro. Continue to stir-fry for another 1 to 2 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed, everything is coated in sauce and the noodles are gently seared in some places. Transfer immediately to serving plates and squeeze lime wedges over noodles before devouring.

Add any of the following to the stir-fry before adding the noodles:

With Green Peppercorns: Stir in 2 to 3 teaspoons of fresh green peppercorns along with the chilies.

With Shallots: Slice a large shallot into paper-thin slices and fry along with the garlic and chilies until golden.

With Snow Peas, Baby Corn, or Broccoli: Add a handful of snow peas, baby corn or thinly sliced broccoli along with the cabbage

Without Noodles: Or omit the noodles entirely and double the amount of vegetables for a spicy all-vegetable Thai stir-fry.

Enter the giveaway!  

1. Leave a comment below.  Do you prepare vegan foods already, or are you just an international-cooking fan?  What is the best feature of this book for you?  Use a current e-mail address or Facebook page when you leave your comment, and I will contact you via that route when you win - so be sure it's one you check!  Winner will be chosen Wednesday, January 23, 2013.

2. Share this giveaway with a friend!  The more popular a review is, the more giveaways we are privileged to do in the future!  Use Pinterest, Twitter, e-mail, Facebook or any other medium to share this review with somebody, and feel free to add a bonus comment for yourself letting us know you did so.

We're still giving away more!  Chef AJ's Unprocessed, Ron Schmidt's Untold Story of Milk, and a bonus, edible round from Tropical Traditions - so follow us on Facebook to be alerted to all our giveaways!!! 

Bon voyage,

Mrs H

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