Making Vegan Kimchi Fried Rice At Home

It’s been a while since I posted a cooking post, but that’s not because I haven’t been cooking. One of the dishes I’ve been cooking a lot recently is this vegan kimchi fried rice. There are a lot of reasons for that, but the biggest one is that vegan kimchi has become a lot easier to get. For years most commercially available kimchi was made with the traditional recipe, which includes dried fish or shrimp in the seasoning. Over the past few years, though, several brands have been making vegan kimchi for those of us who love the flavor of kimchi but don’t want the fish. Then the Korean-owned bodega near me (the same place where they told me how to make this) started selling homemade kimchi. And in addition to more traditional kimchi they regularly make batches without the seafood. So it’s easy for me to get. The other reason I’ve been making it a lot is because it’s easy to do, and full of shortcuts. I can get a carton of cooked rice from the Chinese restaurant (conveniently located across the street from the bodega) and I only have to cook the veggies. Here’s a simple variation, though you can make it with anything.

I start by cooking up some sliced shiitake mushrooms and some firm tofu; I let everything get crisp and crunchy, and season it with salt and pepper. While that’s happening I steam some bok choy, and then set it aside for later. When the mushrooms and tofu get crisp I add the vegan kimchi to the hot pan, and stir it around with the mushrooms. When the kimchi is heated through I move everything off to one side and add the cooked rice to the open space in the pan. I season the rice with some soy sauce and let it cook for a few seconds before mixing it with the mushroom/tofu/kimchi. I check it for seasoning and adjust as necessary; sometimes it needs more soy sauce, sometimes it needs a splash of cchili sauce. When it’s seasoned properly I stir in the steamed bok choy, turn off the heat, and add a splash of sesame oil.

As I said you can make this with any combination of veggies you want. Youc ould even do it with just kimchi and rice, no extras. The point is that making the dish is super easy, all you have to do is cheat.

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Celery Root Schnitzel At Wekstatt

I’d heard good things about the celery root schnitzel at Werkstatt, a relatively new restaurant on Coney Island Ave. I’m a fan of celery root, but I couldn’t quite figure out how they would make schnitzel out of it. I imagined that maybe they formed some mashed celery root into a patty and then fried it, which sounded pretty good to me. It turns out I was wrong, though. I went with some friends for my birthday, and in addition to a yummy giant pretzel and some tasty cocktails I ordered the aforementioned schnitzel (they also have more traditional meat varieties). They take a large slice of whole celery root, boiled until soft in what I’m guessing is seasoned water, and then bread it and fry it. It’s got great flavor and texture, and topped with a squeeze of lemon and some tartar sauce it’s a fantastic dish. As with most Austrian fare the schnitzel come with some tasty salads — cucumber, potato, cabbage, and tomato — but the celery root schnitzel means vegetarians don’t have to make a meal out of those side dishes.

Werkstatt — 509 Coney Island Ave

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Detroit-Style Pizza At Emmy Squared

I worry about a lot of things, usually things that I have no control over. When I heard that Emily, the pizza place in Clinton Hill, was opening up a second location I worried about it. Sure they make delicious pizzas, but they’ve only been open for a few years. And this would be in a completely different location, and a different style of pizza. Emmy Squared specializes in what they call Detroit-style pizzas. They are rectangular pies, with a thick, crisp-edged crust. It’s not as deep-dish as you would get in Chicago, but way deeper than NY or Neapolitan-style.

I needn’t have worried. There’s been a lot of hype about Emmy Squared, but they sure delivered. The Classic, topped with sauce and cheese, was quite good. But the real winner was the namesake pie, the Emmy (pictured above). Topped with mozzarella, banana peppers, red onions, and ranch dressing, the pizza was a marvel of balanced flavors. The creamy ranch and the banana peppers were a particularly nice match; I don’t know if they would work on a thin-crust pizza, but the thick crust made a perfect base for them. The Emmy didn’t even need the side of tomato sauce that came with it.

Bonus points: the leftover cold pizza made a great breakfast the next day.

Emmy Squared — 364 Grand Street

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Lost Vegetarian Presents… Banh Canh Noodles at Bricolage

I love Vietnamese food, but there can be a lot of pitfalls for vegetarians. Even innocuous-sounding dishes may have a healthy sprinkle of fish sauce in them. At Bricolage in Park Slope, though, Chef Lien Lin has a number of great (fish sauce-free) vegetarian options like banh xeo (a crepe made with rice flour) and a veggie banh mi. Even better is the dish she made for us in the newest episode of Lost Vegetarian: banh canh noodles with tofu. The dish, which is meant to be eaten at room temperature, features a great mix of textures and flavors. The noodles, made with a mix of tapioca and rice flours, are dense and chewy, while the vegetables are crisp and light. The coconut-based sauce adds just the right amount of seasoning, offset by the bright acidity of the pickles.

My collaborators:
Camera – Donny Tsang (http://www.donnytsang.com/)
Camera – Scott Lindrup (http://www.scottlindrup.com/)
Music – Bayard Russell (https://bayardrussell.wordpress.com/)

Bricolage — 162 5th Ave

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Red Hook Ball Field Vendors Are Back For 2016

The Red Hook Ball Field Vendors are back for a new season, earlier than ever. Although, as I wrote last year, the number of vendors has shrunk it’s still worth a trip out for some good food. My new favorite thing is a pupusa made of plantains, instead of the usual masa (corn) flour. It gets crisp and caramelized on the griddle, and the slight sweetness of the plantains matches well with the salsa roja and crema on top.

Red Hook Ball Field Vendors — 155 Bay St

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Smorgasburg Is Back In Prospect Park

Smorgasburg is back in Prospect Park, after spending the winter in Industry City. There’s been a lot of press around a certain dessert, though I don’t see the attraction. I’ve been a few times already this season, and my favorite thing so far has been the pholourie from Island Tingz — chewy, chickpea flour-based fritters topped with pepper sauce and tamarind.

There is one dessert worth checking out though, the banana pudding from Baonanas — I got a scoop each of matcha flavored and rosewater-lychee with strawberries. Super delicious.

Smorgasburg — check website for dates and locations

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Lost Vegetarian Presents… Sindhi Curry At Kailash Parbat

Until I sat down with Gary Mulchandani, at Kailash Parbat NY, to discuss filming this episode of Lost Vegetarian Presents I had never heard of Sindhi culture or Sindhi cuisine. Over the past few years the regional specifics of Chinese cuisine have been becoming more popular around NYC, but Indian cuisine hasn’t had the same thing happen. I vaguely knew there was a difference between northern and southern Indian cuisine, but the truth is I couldn’t tell you exactly what that difference was. There are thousands of cultures in India, all with their own identities. So it was a pleasure to learn about one of them, the Sindhi culture.

And yet as I watched Gary cook (he’s not one of the cooks at the restaurant, but part of his training to manage Kailash Parbat in NYC involved him learning how to make everything) it was something simple and familiar that made me take notice. The Sindhi curry starts with a specific technique in which gram (chickpea) flour is smoked slowly in oil. It was a technique that would be recognizable to anyone who has ever made a French roux; though I’m guessing the Sindhi version pre-dates the roux by a few thousand years.

Obviously a couple of conversations doesn’t make me an expert, and everyone’s family has a different recipe for Sindhi curry. I feel privileged to have gotten a glimpse into a culture I didn’t know anything about, and to be the recipient of Gary’s generosity.

My collaborators:
Camera – Donny Tsang (http://www.donnytsang.com/)
Camera – Matt Yule (https://www.youtube.com/user/YuleBrothers)
Music – Bayard Russell (https://bayardrussell.wordpress.com/)

Kailash Parbat NY — 99 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

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