Nac Mac Vegan: adventures in rabbit food

19/11/2010

Vegan Worcestershire Sauce, and some alternatives

Filed under: Ingredients, Products — Tags: , — Feòrag @ 10:51

Someone in a comment to one of my recipes noted that Worcestershire Sauce is not usually vegan as the canonical recipe includes anchovies. This is something of which I am aware, and is why I specified vegan Worcestershire Sauce in that recipe. I figured anyone who wasn’t already aware of the fish would wonder why I’d been so specific and soon find out. My reply got a bit long, explaining the options available, and as the information might be useful, I’ve turned it into a post.

Worcestershire Sauce has a very distinct flavour, and it would be natural to assume that the anchovies are a significant part of that. But it doesn’t seem to be the case and there are many vegan varieties of Worcestershire sauce out there.

They come in three basic sorts:

* cheap brands that leave out one of the more expensive ingredients (i.e. the anchovies): I’ve had supermarket own brands in the past that were vegan. Check the labels as you might be surprised (this hint probably does not work in Waitrose, but they sell one of the brands mentioned below anyway).

* expensive, usually organic, brands made especially for the veggie market. Examples include Life Free From and Geo Organics in the UK and Annie’s Naturals and The Wizard in North America. Several of these brands are also gluten-free – regular Worcestershire Sauce contains wheat.

* Japanese. This might be surprising, but Worcestershire Sauce is about the only thing that that Japanese don’t put fish in. Ignore what Wikipedia says – the Japanese brands are thin sauces, not thick like tomato ketchup. Some Japanese brands do contain fish – Bulldog, for example – but the other main Japanese brand, Kikkoman ウスター, is entirely free of animal ingredients (it’s in the “Delicious Sauce” range that also includes Tonkatsu sauce and Chuno). For the record, I use a Japanese one bought from a local Chinese supermarket.

An alternative, depending on where you live, is to use one of the other similar sauces. I particularly like Henderson’s Relish (see also), but it’s hard to get outside Yorkshire (though I see they’ll accept orders by post). For a slightly different flavour there’s another traditional British condiment, Mushroom Ketchup, for which recipes abound online, and there’s always the suggestion of the original recipe from which mine evolved: soya sauce.

If all this fails, a quick search reveals some recipes to make it yourself: one from Cooking with Rockstars, and another from Martha Stewart (though her hint for using it seems to be a little daft as, unless you’re allergic to fish or something, a regular Worcestershire Sauce would do perfectly well in that recipe!).

21/06/2010

At last!

Filed under: Ingredients, Shopping — Tags: , , — Feòrag @ 15:19

I am lucky to live very close to good local health foods shop. My relationship with it has been strained at times, as they often seem to stock everything except what it was I actually wanted. But today I love them deeply and dearly, for they have started selling the one thing I really wanted. Something which has been very difficult to get hold of outside of North America, and which has taken up a couple of kilos of my baggage allowance on many an occasion. Yes, vital wheat gluten is now available in the UK, approximately a minute from my front door! Not as cheap as buying it in the US, but definitely more convenient. They do mail order too.

11/07/2009

Edinburgh Farmers’ Market

Filed under: Ingredients, Shopping — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Feòrag @ 11:33

The location for the farmers' market is spectacular, especially on a good day like this.

The location for the farmers' market is spectacular, especially on a good day like this.

The Edinburgh Farmers’ Market is a weekly event, which is unfortunately on the wrong side of town for us. The withdrawal of the number 17 bus has made getting there by public transport impossible, and the fact that it’s on top of a car park isn’t an encouragement to use public transport either. So, when we go, unless we’re feeling really fit, we take the Volvo and then buy enough veg to justify it.

At first sight, the market doesn’t have much to offer the vegan, with an excess of meat stalls, and a couple of cheesemakers. They even have leaflets on the market information stall from the Meat Marketing Board promoting industrially-produced meat! But it’s not all unhealthy stuff, don’t worry.

Phantassie organic vegetables

Phantassie organic vegetables

Phantassie is an organic vegetable farm in East Lothian, and they are at the market a couple of times a month. This time round I bought red spring onions, smoked garlic, pea shoots (a green leafy veg), broad beans, white turnips and shiitake. Another regular is East Coast Organics, another East Lothian farm, who are at the market every week. Their stall provided me with a bunch of onions, another of carrots (carrot greens make good soup), one of radishes, a knobbly cucumber (good for Japanese recipes), a red kohlrabi and yellow courgettes. Meanwhile, my partner bought some fantastic plum tomatoes on the vine, and some baby plum tomatoes from the adjacent J & M Craig (one of the last remaining Clyde tomato growers) stall. The aroma from them is fantastic.

A couple of my favourite stalls weren’t there today. Ardnamushrooms grow shiitake and other fungi, and were the source of our organic shiitake block, an experiment in very local food we’d be glad to repeat some time. Carrolls Heritage Potatoes are only there on the first Saturday of the month, when tatties are in season, but they produce potatoes that I like — ones that taste of something. They have blue potatoes, purple potatoes and loads of flavoursome spuds from days of yore. I note they are now selling online, though, and have a stockist in Leith (if I can bear going into a fishmonger — I might have to send himself).

Cheery staff at the Good Soup Group.

Cheery staff at the Good Soup Group.

All that shopping can be hard work, so we had a couple of snacks whilst there. I ignored him having his pig in a bun (which he complained wasn’t very good – ha!) and chose a spicy noodle soup from the Good Soup Group — the noodles were rice noodles, making the soup both vegan and gluten free. Special dietary requirements seem to be a particular concern at the Good Soup Group, and they try to source everything locally wherever possible. And then there’s The Chocolate Tree, lurking ready to ruin all of your healthy eating intentions. They do a massive range of chocolate bars, vegan chocolate hazelnut spread and vegan chocolate sorbet. The cones for the sorbet are not vegan, but they are more than happy to serve it to you in a cup instead. Messy, and delicious, afterwards my face resembled that of a three-year-old after a bath in cocoa. And I don’t care!

09/05/2009

Today’s vegan oddity

Filed under: Eating out — Tags: , , , , — Feòrag @ 02:00

I’m back on the road, and I have yet again managed to try something for the first time, because it doesn’t usually come in vegan form. In this case, it was a cinnamon roll from Cinnamon Works in the Pike Place Market in Seattle. With frosting. It didn’t last long enough to be photographed! The bakery does loads of different vegan sweet treats and is rather too close to the hotel! It also does gluten-free goodies.

As if my waistline wasn’t suffering enough, there’s a creamery nearby that offers vegan ice cream and waffles, and there are plenty of coffee shops that are Not Starbucks. We found one that sold artwork and prints by local artists (I bought one by Tomoko Briggs, decent coffee, iced green tea but, alas, no vegan food.

10/03/2009

Odd tomatoes and ersatz roast

Filed under: Ingredients, Products, Recipes and techniques — Tags: , , — Feòrag @ 22:01
A sliced marmande tomato

A sliced marmande tomato

We recently obtained some marmande tomatoes, an unusual looking beastie that is said to taste really good. My other half googled for recipes using them, and found Oven-roasted Marmande Tomatoes, a staple in the south of France, apparently. We had all the ingredients except the fresh herbs (well, technically we have fresh rosemary, growing in the garden, but it was dark) so I decided to give it a go. It was pretty straightforward. I roasted them for longer than specified, but that’s because I have a strong dislike of half-cooked tomatoes. The recipe is highly recommended, and is likely to become a staple in this household whenever we can get hold of interesting tomatoes.

We were at a loss as to what would go with it until I remembered that we’d bought a Redwood Foods Cheatin’ turkey style roast with cranberry and wild rice stuffing when Real Foods had been selling them off after the festive season, and that it was still in our freezer. What’s more, it cooked at close to the same temperature as the tomatoes – result! I tend not to like fake meats (I never liked the real thing), but they make a useful compromise with my meat-eating partner. He declares that it is quite nice, though a little dry. I’d worried that I’d overdone the olive oil in the tomatoes, but he felt that was good with the roast.

But the tomatoes were the stars of this meal. I shall have to see if Waitrose still have them.

31/12/2008

My ozouni.

Filed under: Japanese — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Feòrag @ 19:35

Ozouni is a traditional Japanese dish for New Year’s Day. It is generally had in the morning, after having toasted in the sunrise with sake, and is a significant cause of death for old people. There are as many recipes as people, plus a few more. Mine is vaguely Eastern Japan-ish, but vegan. Serves four-ish.

For dashi:
Piece of dashi konbu

For fake fish roll:
about a third of a block of konnyaku
a few drops of red food colouring (yes, there is vegan red food colouring out there)
very strong konbu dashi

The rest:
3 dried shiitake
about half a carrot
a block of firm tofu, cut into big triangular chunks
some greenery (not available this time)
1 tbl shouyu
1 tbl sake
one piece mochi per person
dried yuzu peel

Set the shiitake to soak. Slice the carrots and use a fancy cutter to make them an interesting shape. Bung the konbu and the bits of carrot you cut off into a pan with plenty of water, bring to the boil and simmer for half an hour or so. Drain, retaining the liquid.

Cut round or flower shapes out of the konnyaku. Put it in a small pan with enough strong dashi to cover (I cheated and used instant for this) and the food colouring. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, and don’t forget about it! Strain – no need to reserve the liquid.

Put the home-made dashi back into the big pan, and add the shiitake soaking water, the shouyu, the sake and more water if needed (you know how big your soup bowls are!). Bring back to the boil whilst thinly slicing the shiitake, discarding the stems. Add the shiitake and tofu to the dashi and simmer for 5 minutes, the add the carrots, the fake fish rolls and the greenery.

Continue simmering while you prepare the mochi.

The best place to get mochi is a health food store – I use the Mitoku brown rice ones which Real Foods sell, because I am a Bloody Hippie. Grill the mochi on both sides until they swell up then put one in each bowl. Ladle the soup over the mochi, making sure everyone gets a bit of everything. Sprinkle some yuzu peel over. Eat the mochi carefully – they’re sticky and choking on them is what kills people in Japan.

For a more Western Japanese style, add white miso.

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