All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014
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This is a dish traditionally prepared with pork. You might think that a faux chicken would be a closer thing to pork that faux beef and you would probably be correct. But – I have been using faux chicken a lot lately & decided to mix it up a bit. If you make this dish – any faux meat would be fine & a faux chicken would certainly be prettier to photograph.
I was going to use this Trader Joe’s stuff –
but then I remembered I had this stuff in the fridge & opted instead to try it.
I thought the cube-style rather than a strip-style beef would be better for this dish. But, Gardein proved underwhelming, yet again. My complaint with the Gardein products is that the bulk of them are “breaded” or have some kind of bready texture on the outside & that even these beef cubes, while not bready, proved to have a fragile consistency that would never hold up in a stew or something. And the texture is NOTHING like meat when you chew it. It just sort of crumbles. So – my suggestion is, if you are going to make any of the faux beef things I post, use the Trader Joe’s stuff instead. Beyond Meat makes a faux beef, apparently, but my local grocery store doesn’t carry it so the jury is still out on that version.
I am posting a beef bowl serving suggesting here but you needn’t get all the stuff for that if it sounds like a pain in the ass. Just serve this shit over rice & scarf it down.
Oh – and I apologize for the photos. Dark beef items are really hard to make look pretty. Do not be thrown, however – because this is far yummier than it looks!
Vegan Vietnamese Spicy Caramel Beef Bowl
Serves 2 with rice
8 oz or so of faux meat
1-2 TBS toasted sesame oil
1/2 onion or 1 large shallot – minced
1 TBS ginger – minced (I use jarred)
4 garlic cloves – minced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup vegetable stock
1 TBS soy sauce
2 tsp cornstarch (additional)
2 tsp rice vinegar
1-3 tsp crushed red pepper (to taste)
1/2 red bell pepper – seeded & cut into strips
1-2 red or green jalapenos (or other hot peppers – to taste)
1/4 cup toasted peanuts (I planned to use cashews but forgot to)
Cilantro – chopped – as garnish
Sesame seeds – as garnish (optional)
For a bowl
Make some rice.
If doing the bowl version – chop up some Napa cabbage & some red cabbage & some scallions & cilantro & set aside.
Toss the meat in enough cornstarch (and some S&P) to lightly coat it. Set aside.
Whisk the stock, soy sauce, 2 tsp cornstarch, rice vinegar & crushed red pepper together. Set aside.
Prep the onion or shallot, the garlic, ginger & jalapeno (or other pepper) and set aside.
Slice the other veggies & have them on hand.
Spread the brown sugar on the bottom of a dry pan over medium heat – and leave it undisturbed until it melts. Then stir it with a wooden spoon until it caramelizes. Be VERY careful not to burn it.
Take the spoon out of the pan & VERY CAREFULLY add the stock mixture to the pan. Be very careful not to burn yourself. That molten sugar isn’t fucking around. The caramel will instantly harden so stir again with a wooden spoon over moderate heat until it melts again & the sauce begins to thicken. Set aside on lowest possible heat.
Heat the sesame oil over med-high heat & fry the meat up. I used a lid to press it against the heat. When it is browned on all sides, put in in a bowl & set aside.
If you need a little more oil in the pan add it & saute the red or green jalapeno & the onion (or shallot) for a few minutes or until tender.
Add the ginger to the pan with the onion & jalapeno. My ginger was jarred & wet & spattered everywhere so be careful. Saute this about a minute & then add the garlic for about 30 seconds.
Now – a tricky part. Add the stock to the saute pan. It will likely splatter a bit so do this carefully and at arm’s reach. Bring to a boil & then reduce to a simmer. Add the slices of red pepper & the faux beef & heat through.
Now – either serve this over rice with some scallions & cilantro or create a beef bowl by layering rice & then meat & then the chopped raw veggie – and maybe some toasted nuts & sesame seeds on top – squeeze a bit of lime & go to town!