06 February 2011

Delayed Recap and Then Some

I hope all have enjoyed a pleasant weekend. Although Lunar New Year kicked off a few days ago--3 February marked the beginning of the Year of the Rabbit/Cat (the latter is in accordance with the Vietnamese lunar calendar)--and has likely been overshadowed by the inescapable presence of Super Bowl fanfare, I thought I'd share a bit of my food-related experiences regarding both events. First, I present you a brief look at what I cooked to ring in the new year.

Matcha Mushi Pan (Green Tea Muffins)
Since receiving Elizabeth Andoh's cookbook, Kansha (2010), as a Christmas gift, I have been eager to try the myriad vegan Japanese recipes housed within the gorgeous tome. This particular dessert recipe quickly caught my eye, as I have been a longtime fan of nibbling on steamed breads and cakes. Admittedly, I was a bit disappointed with the outcome of these muffins, for several reasons. The kuro mame (sweet black soybeans, prepared from another Kansha recipe) didn't settle into the heart of the cake as promised and became dry and a bit unsightly atop the steamed muffins; the cakes lacked even the slight sweetness normally found in this type of cake, and were almost bitter from the matcha (powdered green tea); and the muffins dried out very quickly. They actually weren't too bad upon immediate consumption. I see potential in this recipe, so an eventual revisit and tweaking is in order.
"Pulled" noodles
It is more appropriate to call these particular results "rolled-and-cut noodles." Lacking the noodle-tugging experience, technique, and shear skill of Chinese pulled noodle masters, I failed to properly produce noodles of the appropriate texture and length (that befitting the tradition of noodles symbolizing longevity). In an attempt to avoid wastefulness, I resorted to rolling out the dough and roughly cutting it into long strips. The noodles held remarkably well following a vigorous boil. Added to miso broth with spinach and seitan strips, the noodles provided a hearty starch element to the soup and tasted a bit like udon.
As for Super Bowl XLV, I didn't exactly celebrate it in any way; rather, inspired by game day fare, I found myself craving chili this afternoon. With so much "chicken-style" seitan remaining from Lunar New Year, I decided to try my hand at cooking a "white" chili--well, one comparably lighter in color and related to but distinctly different from the dark, tomato-based, black bean-filled variation to which I am accustomed. I was actually quite pleased with the results of my experimentation. The chili was a hearty blend of textures (thick, creamy, and chunky) and flavors (smoky, savory, somewhat spicy, slightly sweet) that proved pleasing to a more "traditional" chili-loving gal like myself. Of course, this fairly spontaneous concoction is not quite perfect, but it seemed tasty enough to share this first attempt. I'll undoubtedly revisit the recipe and make adjustments, but for now I'll provide instruction on how you can attempt my first take on "white" chili, if you so choose.
Seitan "Chicken" Chili (printer-friendly recipe)

1 medium onion, chopped
1 c seitan, chopped
2 (15-oz) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed, divided
3/4 c cooked satsumaimo (Japanese sweet potato), peeled and chopped, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 T tomato paste
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 (4-oz) can diced green chili
2 (14-oz) cans vegetable broth, preferably low-sodium
1 bay leaf
2 T cilantro, chopped
2 tsp oil
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper, to taste

Mash together 1/4 c each cannellini beans and satsumaimo. Set aside.

Heat oil in large nonstick saucepan over medium-low. Saute onion and seitan for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft. Stir in garlic, cumin, smoked paprika, and cayenne and cook for an additional minute or two. Stir in tomato paste and mashed bean-potato mixture until well-distributed. Increase heat to medium-high and add remaining beans, carrot, green chili, vegetable broth, and bay leaf, bringing the contents of the pot to a boil. Reduce heat and allow mixture to simmer for approximately 30 minutes, until the carrot is tender and the chili has thickened. Add remaining satsumaimo and heat through. Adjust for salt and pepper as needed. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro and lime juice. Enjoy hot!

I'll be enjoying leftovers for the next few days, and you can be sure that once I replenish the depleted potato and cornmeal stores in my kitchen, there will be chili-topped fries and cornbread (respectively) involved.


  1. That's SO cool you made your own noodles! I want to try that it just seems so time consuming. I'm sorry about your steamed cakes :( Have you made the matcha cupcakes in VCTOTW?

  2. Thanks, Olivia. I haven't made the matcha cupcakes from VCTOTW, but maybe it's time I find my copy and give it a try!

  3. The noodles may not have gone exactly as planned, but they look wonderful in the soup — chewy and toothsome like udon should be.


Thanks for reading! Your comments are always welcome and appreciated. :)