Kate is a child of the south and apparently that means that grits are a big deal. In fact her mom says that Grits means Girl Raised In The South. When we recently visited Raleigh there was a vegan restaurant with savory grits that were super delicious and reminded Kate of her long lost love of the corny breakfast staple.
The birth of a vegan dish
She came up with this recipe and we have been eating it almost every morning since late December 2014. We like to make 6 servings at a time as the leftovers store nicely. We got this idea from Kate’s mother who told us that Kate’s grandfather used to make up large batches of grits as well. He would pour the leftovers in a bread pan and then put it into the refrigerator. The grits would then setup like a loaf of bread and he would slice off a serving the next morning and heat it up in a pan before devouring it. This makes total sense if you have ever cooked with Polenta. It turns out that Grits and Polenta are pretty much the same thing.
Sauteeing – Add 1/4 cup water to large pot with 1 tsp Broth over medium heat. Add Mushrooms and cook until their juices start to release. Add Onions and Sage. Cook till the Onion is transparent. Add Garlic and Red Pepper and cook till soft. Add frozen Greens and Earth Balance and cook for 2 minutes.
Simmering – Turn heat up to High and add 5 1/2 Cups of water, 1 3/4 Cups Grits (if using 5 minute Grits wait for 15 minutes)* and the rest of the Broth powder. Use a whisk when adding the Grits to prevent clumping, no one wants clumpy grits. Once boiling turn heat down till simmering and set a timer for 20 minutes. Continue stirring every 5 minutes.
Finishing – Once the timer goes off turn off the heat and add the 1 Cup of Nooch. Stir until everything is happy. Add Salt and Pepper to taste. If you want to be fancy add a quarter of a sliced Avocado and some grilled Tomato slices to each bowl. Enjoy.
Storing Leftovers – If you have any leftovers pour them into a container, bread pans work best, and refrigerate. The Grits will firm up and you can eat them cold or heat them up.
Kate and I love us some miso. “It’s miso good!” should be an alternative way to say “It’s very good!” even though the miso phrase means its much better. (I have a slight head cold right now so if things sound strange its the cold’s fault. I am a respectable person, dammit!)
One soup I made when we first started dating was a basic miso soup. You boiled a pot of water with soy sauce, green onions, spinach, mushrooms and seaweed. Then simmered for a few minutes. Then add the miso paste and tofu. Its a great soup for anytime of the day and especially if your buddie Pete’s birthday was last night.
A few nights ago it was my turn to cook dinner and it was also super cold in Durham North Carolina so a brothy soup sounded like a great way to roll. We had also just stopped by a little farm shack on the side of the road and purchased some beautiful shitake mushrooms. Shitake’s are this crazy named food item that are really easy to cook with. Just remove the stem and throw it away. Then do what you want with the cap. However for about half the price I am fine with white mushrooms as well.
I guess if I ordered from Blue Apron they would bring me all of those items – Blue Apron: Fresh Ingredients, Original Recipes, Delivered to You. That sounds like a nice thing for people who can afford to spend $10 for a meal that they have to cook. If I was able to be that reckless with spending I would either go out to eat all the time or hire a manservant to shop and cook my meals. Best of luck to them though. The site is nice looking and the recipe was easy to follow either on my iPhone or Laptop.
We ran down to the Kroger and picked up a few items like Bok Choy(which is good to get since that’s in the name of this friggin recipe), organic soy sauce (we use a lot of that stuff, getting the organic is supposed to be a good idea as soybeans are heavily sprayed with stuff that isn’t safe for us to eat, its also a fun way to spend more money!), and organic firm tofu(same reasoning as the sauce). We might have grabbed a box of wine as well… What can I say? I like wine and not spending a terrible amount of money, combine those together and bam! Almaden Vineyards – California’s First Winery.
Step 1) Cut everything up and have it ready to roll.
Smash and dice the Garlic and put it in a bowl. Cut the white parts of the Scallions off from the green. Put the green parts aside for now. Chop up the white parts about quarter of an inch. Put in the same bowl as the Garlic.
Peel the Bok Choy leafs off and wash the dirt from them. Cut the leafy part off the stems. Rough chop the leaves and thinly slice the stems. Put them into in their own bowls.
Remove the stems from the mushrooms and rinse. Then slice the caps so they are about 2 inches long and half an inch thick. Put them in the same bowl as the Bok Choy stems.
Get four cups of water and add the broth and soy sauce.
Have the miso scooped up in a spoon and ready to cook.
Drain the tofu and pat dry. Cut it until you have half inch cubes (they better be perfect too!). For Seitan cut it into half inch pieces.
Cut the seaweed up into cigarette size pieces with scissors and put in a bowl.
Rinse the bean sprouts and place in a bowl.
Chop up the green parts of the scallions and put in a bowl.
Finally have the noodles package open and sitting on the counter.
Great work, pour some of that box wine into a glass and take a sip, you earned it!
Step 2) Cook that tastiness up!
Add 1 teaspoon of oil to a 2 quart or larger pot on medium heat. I like sesame for this recipe cause the flavor is nice but you could also use vegetable or olive oil. Once its got some heat to it add the garlic and scallion whites. (That was nice having everything ready to just plop right in the pot huh? Bam!)
Let them cook for a few minutes but don’t you dare walk away. Garlic loves to burn and once you burn garlic it is garbage. Stand there with your spoon or heat resistant spatula or stick and stir things around. Everything should get some free time on the bottom of the pot and get a nice golden color to it.
As soon as you see the gold and smell the garlic get powerful you pour in that broth mixture, add the Bok Choy stems and mushrooms, and the miso. Stir things up!
Bring the heat up to a light boil or simmer and then reduce the heat a little and let sit for 10 minutes.
That was really impressive stuff! Did you manage to burn the garlic, your hair, or a child? If no, then great work, go have some more wine. If yes to all three, then you may want to put the wine away at this point and look for burn cream and maybe a hat.
Step 3) Hoisin Tofu Craziness!
Get a medium saute/frying pan out and add the second teaspoon of oil up to a medium/high heat. Once it gets warm add the tofu. Be ready cause tofu likes to stick like a mofo to your pan. If you have nonstick it might be less bad but for the most part its gonna stick. I like stainless steel pots and pans personally cause they won’t offgas crazy stuff like the non sticks do. Also they are easier to clean if you get some Barkeepers Friend.
For frying the Tofu or Seitan, I take a page from The Sexy Vegan Cookbook on his Tofu Scramble recipe where he instructs you to let it sit there on the pan. You start to freak out a little as you think about how hard it will be to scrape it off the pan. This is where stainless steel is nice. Once the tofu or seitan has been on the pan for 4 minutes or so you grab a metal spatula (suck it non stick!) and you scrape everything nice and neatly, or so, off the pan and flip it over and let it sit for another few minutes.
Ideally you will get all four sides of each tofu cube crispy and perfect. The reality is that you will be luck to get the first side so be happy with that. As you start flipping the tofu too much it will start to crumble and fall apart. Stop before it becomes tofu scramble, unless thats what you want.
Now turn off the heat and pour the hoisin sauce on the tofu or seitan and mix it all around. Get every piece covered in that tasty plum sauce and then let it sit for a moment.
You are doing a really great job, congratulations! Did you burn the shit out of the Tofu? Don’t worry, your children can go eat next door anyway.
Step 4) Finish it and serve it!
Turning our attention back to the big pot o’ broth its time to add the Bok Choy leaves and noodles. Turn the heat up to medium/high for a couple of minutes until the noodles are done, mine said 8 minutes.
Once the noodles are done add some to a bowl, grab some veggies, and pour some broth over everything. Now put the tofu on top of that and serve with a fork and spoon.
Use the Seaweed strips, bean sprouts, and scallion greens as toppings. Add as much as you like. The seaweed will soften immediately and the bean sprouts and scallion greens will supply a nice crunch.
Great work! Its time to sit down with the soup and your glass of wine. What? You finished the glass? No problem, you bought a box, there is plenty more.
As vegans, one thing we miss is the artful and tasty delights of sushi as most sushi restaurants tend to have one or two items we can eat. Sure an avocado roll is good, but it would be nice to get something with some texture and umami flavoring to kick things up a notch!
Welcome to Norfolk, home of PETA
The fact that PETA is based out of Norfolk Virginia blows the minds of most people who live in Norfolk. There are not a lot of vegan options in the town that is home to one of the most prominent animal rights groups in the world. Fortunately for us, we have the best friends in the world and, vegan or not, they are looking out for us and recommending places like Kotobuki. They are a sushi bar with an entire vegan sushi menu! WTF? OMG! Our friend Meredith took us here for dinner one night and it was awesome.
Vegan sushi, really?
For the uninitiated vegan sushi involved mock fish like salmon that is then used in place of actual fish. This gives a similar taste and texture to fish sushi just without the ethical and environmental issues which vegans try to avoid. If you are open minded and want to learn more about why vegans don’t eat fish check out these articles:
One cool feature of the restaurant, besides having vegan sushi, is that they have raised the floor around a section of tables. This gives the effect of a traditional Japanese kotatsu table which is low to the floor. Fortunately for us inflexible westerners Kotobuki has simply raised the floor around the table giving you space to put your legs underneath without having to get all origami. Some raise the roof at Kotobuki they raise the floor!
Tasty Adult Beverages
Another cool feature are the super awesome adult beverages:
Ty-Ku Sake, vodka, pomegranate juice, lemon juice and agave nectar.
Ty-Ku Sake, fresh seasonal fruits, and a splash of agave nectar.
Ty-Ku Sake, vodka, sliced cucumber.
Ty-Ku Sake, orange juice, a splash of champagne.
Ty-Ku Sake, vodka, cranberry juice.
Directions and Info
721 W 21st St Norfolk, VA 23517 757-628-1025 Website Lot parking is available in the back, and street parking is available in the surrounding neighborhood.