Those of you who have been hanging around for a while will probably remember Vine and Dine. This was a fun little blog challenge that Fred and I teamed up on with a couple of other bloggers. Tami Noyes or Liz Wyman would choose a recipe from a vegan cookbook and the boys would pair that dish with vegan wines. This was how World Vegan Feast by Bryanna Clark Grogan first ended up in my kitchen. I honestly didn't really look it over until recently for some reason.
It was very difficult for me to chose which country I wanted to visit, so I let Fred pick the first recipe. He chose the Vietnamese "Fisherman's Soup" (pg. 75). The ingredient list was pretty long, so I was a little concerned the soup would be pretty cumbersome. But the author assured me it was "easy to put together". There weren't any really crazy ingredients. The least common were probably the lemongrass and the nori flakes. I chose to go to my favorite Asian market and get the real deal instead of using the optional substitutions. The dried shiitake mushrooms needed 30 minutes to soak. This gave me time to cihpe the rest of the veggies and the tofu. We found the pineapple to be a little overwhelming at first, but an extra squirt of sriracha and a little more salt balanced it out.
Wow! This soup was worth the trip to the Asian market and all of the slicing and dicing. I'm sure it is just dandy with the more common ingredient substitution, but I think the authentic ingredients made this much more an authentic experience. The sweet, sour and spicy flavors were so unusual (in a fantastic way). The tofu provided a nice texture. I also think the nori is key to making this a "fisherman" style soup. You gotta have the flavors of the sea. If you like simple and more bland food, don't take this one on. If, on the other hand, you have an adventurous palate and an appreciation for trying something truly unique, this is your kind of soup!
Ever since watching the first season of The Great Food Truck Race on Food Network, I have been very curious why there was all this fuss about Bahn Mi. It was an easy choice and right there in the book! This one was not at all difficult, but included 4 separate recipes: Vietnamese-Style BBQ (pg. 62), Quick Carrot Pickle (pg.62-63), Vegan Nuoc Cham Sauce, and the Bahn Mi itself (pg. 61-62). It took quite a bit of time to get all of them together. You could make the first three recipes ahead of time, so the day of assembly would be no big deal. I did it all in one shot and it took me about an hour and a half total. That's a pretty long time for a sandwich you might say. Totally worth every minute.
I now know what the fuss was all about. I'm still dreaming about the incredible explosion of flavors from the Vietnamese-Style BBQ. I could (and did) eat it all on it's own. I actually think it might make a good jerky for hiking. The hint of smoky flavor, the hint of sweet, the aromatic awesomeness of the 5 spice powder...oh yeah. I got some very flaky baguettes at the Asian market that were perfect vessel for the filling. I used cilantro for the fresh herbs. It was a good call. The saltiness of the BBQ and the Nuoc Cham Sauce was tamed down by the fresh veggies. I loved the Carrot Pickle as it added a nice subtle sweetness. Dang. I want another one right now!
Squee! It's time for the first giveaway!!! You can win your own copy of World Vegan Feast by Bryanna Clark Grogan. Leave a comment about what ethnic cuisine or country you would like to learn more about by midnight MST tonight. A winner will be chosen at random and announced on tomorrow's post. So please make sure to check back or leave your email in your comment. Good luck. (Sorry, this one is for US residents only).