DDD #43 – Vegan Fish Tempura Sushi Rolls

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2017

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Click the image below to watch the video.

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When I went to Dallas in 2015 to MC an event for the Humane League there – everyone kept talking about how awesome these vegan fish sticks are.  So – I bought some as soon as I got home.  My first effort with them was these vegan fish tacos.

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They were delicious!   The fish sticks are triangle-shaped and almost as large as the palm of my hand – and they have 90 calories each.  I am a huge fan.

So – I got it in my head that I wanted sushi.  My first thought was to make tempura chicken with Beyond Meat chicken & tempura batter but I discovered that I had no tempura batter & then I decided I didn’t want to fry anything, anyway.  Then these guys jumped into my mind!  So – while these are not fish & not in tempura batter – they are breaded & they made an excellent substitute.

I buy my nori at Bangluch Market because it costs about $1.25 for a package where Gelson’s charges almost $5 – so I recommend looking in ethnic stores for ethnic supplies.  I bought the fresh ginger & wasabi at Gelson’s.

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Sushi Rice

2 cups sushi rice

2 cups water

2 TBS sugar

2 TBS rice vinegar

1 TBS salt

Put the rice & water in a pan.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low & cover.  Cook for 25 minutes.

Let the rice cool & then mix in the other ingredients.

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Vegan “Fish Tempura” Sushi Rolls

INGREDIENTS

Gardein fishless fillets (or other brand) – cooked according to package instructions

Carrots – cut into sticks

Daikon – cut into sticks

Cucumber – cut into sticks (I forgot to use mine)

Avocado – sliced

Nori sheets

Sesame seeds – white & black

Wasabi, ginger & soy sauce for dipping.

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DIRECTIONS

Get all your ingredients ready.  Press some rice onto the nori – leaving about an inch on one end uncovered.  Layer the ingredients & roll tightly.  Wet the naked end of the nori with water on your fingertips.  roll until the seam side is down & rub the roll back & forth on the counter a few times to better seal the seam.  Cut with a sharp wet knife.

Serve with ginger & wasabi & soy sauce & a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

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Vegan Fish Tacos

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or just print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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So – I have been experimenting with some vegan seafoods.  So far – I have tried the crab cakes & the shrimp seen just above.  They LOOK promising but they are truly vile. Absolutely disgusting & inedible.  The shrimp are TEENY & look and taste like breaded paste.  The crab cakes are only slightly better but certainly NOT worth the calories they represent.  I have not yet tried those freezer-burned scallops (above) but I think they might be best served in a scallop salad – like a tuna salad – and I am not ready to get into that yet.

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The Gardein fishless filets, however, are a REVELATION!  The breading is good, there is only 180 calories in two filets & they look and taste like any frozen fish stick – but with none of the kinda gross fishy-ness some of those products have.  These are truly genius & made wonderful fish tacos!  I give these a very enthusiastic endorsement!

As to tacos – people like them the way they like them.  I think – like pizza – nobody really needs a recipe but, rather, maybe a few suggestions.  For my fish tacos, I used street-taco-sized corn tortillas, grilled them on my stove burners a bit & topped them.  I cheated a teensy bit & used real feta on these – because I had it & I thought it would photography well – but feta is certainly not the star of this dish.  The stars are the fishless filets & avocado – because avocado can hold its own in most flavor battles.

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Vegan Fish Tacos

INGREDIENTS

Corn or flour tortillas – grilled on the stove burners

Fishless filets – cooked according to the package (takes 12 minutes once your oven is to temperature) and sliced up (I used two filets for 3 tacos)

Cilantro

Avocado – sliced

Purple cabbage – sliced

Red bell pepper – diced

Chipotle vegenaise (or vegan sour cream)

Lime wedges

Crumbled vegan cheese of your choice (optional)

OTHER TOPPINGS – diced tomato, sliced lettuce, jalapenos, pico de gallo, sliced scallions, sliced radishes, diced red onion, hot sauce

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DIRECTIONS

Grill the tortillas on the stove burners a bit on each side to warm & add grill marks. Assemble at will!

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Vegan Jackfruit Tuna Salad & Avocado

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Flipping around on Pinterest the other day – I spotted a vegan tuna melt & the photo was SO convincing – I had to see WTF the tuna was made from.  I should have guessed.  Jackfruit.  Just above is my Vegan Pulled Chicken with Jackfruit in a Sriracha and Blackberry Jam BBQ Sauce for the Slow Cooker.  I was already aware of jackfruit being any incredible proxy for pulled chicken & pork but tuna had never crossed my mind.  I had to try it!

FYI jackfruit is literally a fruit – a pretty flavorless fruit – that shreds like chicken & pork and TUNA!

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Wikipedia says, “The jackfruit, also known as jack tree, jakfruit, or sometimes simply jack or jak) is a species of tree in the Artocarpus genus of the mulberry family. It is native to parts of South and Southeast Asia, and is believed to have originated in the southwestern rain forests of India, in present-day Goa, Kerala, coastal Karnataka, and Maharashtra. The jackfruit tree is well suited to tropical lowlands, and its fruit is the largest tree-borne fruit, reaching as much as 35 kg (80 lb) in weight, 90 cm (35 in) in length, and 50 cm (20 in) in diameter.[9]

The jackfruit tree is a widely cultivated and popular food item in tropical regions of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Jackfruit is also found across Africa (e.g., in Cameroon, Uganda, Tanzania, Madagascar, São Tomé and Príncipe, Ethiopia, and Mauritius), as well as throughout Brazil, west-central Mexico, and in Caribbean nations such as Jamaica. Jackfruit is the national fruit of Bangladesh.

Because unripe jackfruit has a meat-like taste, it is used in curry dishes with spices, in Bihar, Jharkhand, Sri Lankan, Andhran, eastern Indian (Bengali) and (Odisha) and Keralan cuisines. The skin of unripe jackfruit must be peeled first, then the remaining whole jackfruit can be chopped into edible portions and cooked before serving. Young jackfruit has a mild flavor and distinctive meat-like texture and is compared to poultry. Meatless sandwiches have been suggested and are popular with both vegetarian and non-vegetarian populations.”

(these two images below of the jackfruit tree & the split fruit were stolen from Google)

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Look at that label!   Cheap & good for you!  Jackfruit is found in every Thai market I have been into but you can buy it HERE on Amazon.

This recipe is really just a guide to use the jackfruit.  Tuna salad is a dish people have lots of opinions on – from using sweet relish in it (yuck) to adding mustard or whatever.  I will tell you what I did but you can just make this the way you would make your favorite tuna salad recipe.

I added one sheet of nori & about a TBS of the stuff below to add a seafood essence – and it worked.  I might try it with just the nori next time as I would like to maybe lose the sesame element.  You could try it without one or both or add kelp granules.  Most recipes add mashed chick peas for density – and I did, too.  The result was INSANELY convincing  Not as specifically fishy as real canned tuna but the texture was spot on & all the other flavors of tuna salad were there.  I recommend this very highly – especially to veteran vegans who have learned to be open-minded about vegan versions of things we all have visceral memories of.

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Vegan Jackfruit Tuna Salad & Avocado

Makes about 2 cups tuna salad

INGREDIENTS

1 (10 oz) can jackfruit – IN BRINE OR WATER (not syrup)

1 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans – drained

olive oil

1 sheet nori

1 TBS roasted sesame & seaweed OR kelp granules (optional)

1 small onion – diced

2 celery stalk – diced

2 scallions – diced

1 TBS Dijon or other mustard (optional)

Vegan mayo (I used a lot – make a full cup of more – but the mayo ratio is up to you)

Avocado halves

S&P

Paprika (optional)

OR – whatever your favorite tuna salad ingredients are.

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DIRECTIONS

Drain the jackfruit & smash it by hand until it looks like tuna.

Prep the other ingredients.

Heat a TBS or so of olive oil in a pan & heat the jackfruit – not to cook it – but to dry it out.  Put into a large bowl.

I pulsed the garbanzos & nori in my food processor but you can easily mash them together by hand.

Then just mix everything (except the avocado) together & season with S&P.  Add as little or as much vegan mayo as you like.

Halve the avocados – remove the pit & scoop the “tuna” in there.  Sprinkle with paprika & devour.

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Vegan “Fish Tempura” Sushi Rolls

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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vromans back

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When I went to Dallas last month to MC an event for the Humane League there – everyone kept talking about how awesome these vegan fish sticks are.  So – I bought some as soon as I got home.  My first effort with them was these vegan fish tacos.

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They were delicious!   The fish sticks are triangle-shaped and almost as large as the palm of my hand – and they have 90 calories each.  I am a huge fan.

So – yesterday – I got it in my head that I wanted sushi.  My first thought was to make tempura chicken with Beyond Meat chicken & tempura batter but I discovered that I had no tempura batter & then I decided I didn’t want to fry anything, anyway.  Then these guys jumped into my mind!  So – while these are not fish & not in tempura batter – they are breaded & they made an excellent substitute.

I buy my nori at Bangluch Market because it costs about $1.25 for a package where Gelson’s charges almost $5 – so I recommend looking in ethnic stores for ethnic supplies.  I bought the fresh ginger & wasabi at Gelson’s.

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Sushi Rice

2 cups sushi rice

2 cups water

2 TBS sugar

2 TBS rice vinegar

1 TBS salt

Put the rice & water in a pan.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low & cover.  Cook for 25 minutes.

Let the rice cool & then mix in the other ingredients.

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Vegan “Fish Tempura” Sushi Rolls

INGREDIENTS

Gardein fishless fillets (or other brand) – cooked according to package instructions

Carrots – cut into sticks

Daikon – cut into sticks

Cucumber – cut into sticks (I forgot to use mine)

Avocado – sliced

Nori sheets

Sesame seeds – white & black

Wasabi, ginger & soy sauce for dipping.

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DIRECTIONS

Get all your ingredients ready.  Press some rice onto the nori – leaving about an inch on one end uncovered.  Layer the ingredients & roll tightly.  Wet the naked end of the nori with water on your fingertips.  roll until the seam side is down & rub the roll back & forth on the counter a few times to better seal the seam.  Cut with a sharp wet knife.

Serve with ginger & wasabi & soy sauce & a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

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Potato & Fish Tacos at Tacomiendo in West Los Angeles – America’s 17th Best Taco

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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I love tacos.  I really do.  But I have become pretty snobby about them.  I usually get fish tacos (as I do not eat meat or chicken) and I prefer it not be fried.  Though I’ve had some might fine fried babies.  So – when I saw an article listing the “35 Best Tacos in America” – I knew I had to try any local ones on the list.

#17 was Tacomiendo.

17) Tacomiendo, Los Angeles: Potato Taco

At the no-frills, order-at-the-counter Tacomiendo, where you’ll hear much more Spanish than English spoken, the tortillas are homemade, the prices are reasonable, and the tacos are big. Burritos are a favorite here, but the tacos get high marks, too — and if you don’t mind carbo-loading, the unusual potato taco, potato chunks and cheese in a crispy shell, is certainly memorable.

They specifically mention which KIND of taco won at each joint.  As it turns out, Tacomiendo is over at Pico & Gateway – an area you couldn’t pay me to trek to under normal circumstances but my dog, Dexter, is undergoing physical therapy at Two Hands Four Paws which is only a few blocks away!  So, yesterday, as Dex had his day at the spa, I hopped over to Tacomiendo & ordered me some tacos (to steal the vernacular of my badass boyfriend, Miles).

There is a boatload of construction over there & it was a very confusing few blocks to navigate but, eventually, I spotted the place, tucked into an auto court sorta strip mall – on the southeast corner of Gateway & Pico.  Here is the outside.

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And here is the rest of that mall as seen from inside Tacomiendo.

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ALL car places so Tacomiendo can be easy to miss.  The obscurity of the place & the strip mall exterior actually raised my hopes about Tacomiendo.  I mean – who would even SEE this place, let alone put it on the list of “must try” taco spots?  If it was singled out – it must be incredible!  So – I ventured forward.

Here is the interior.

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There is a little salsa & other appropriate toppings bar over on the left on the yellow wall.

I looked at the menu overhead & couldn’t spot potato anything so I asked when it was my time to order.  Yes, I was told, they do serve a potato taco but it comes in a hard shell.  I was informed of this as if it would make me reconsider.  But – I was here expressly to try America’s 17th best Goddamn taco & I had good information that it was the potato taco here at Tacomiendo – so, undeterred, I ordered it.  I also ordered a fish taco & a Diet Coke (even though I think Diet Coke is tantamount to drinking engine fluid – as far as how good it is for you).   I paid my bill.

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Lunch for $7?  Not bad!  It seems the potato taco might be considered an appetizer.  Hmm.  I went to the salsa bar & stocked up & ate a bunch of these carrots & jalapenos.

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Pretty soon, a woman delivered this little basket to my table.

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That is the potato taco on the left.  The fish taco was a purist’s dream as it came in a homemade soft taco shell – naked.  Solomente grilled fish.  I topped it with cilantro, onion & two salsas and squeezed two limes over it.

Then I bit into the potato taco.  It seemed to be filled with a cheesy mashed potato.  Tasty – but not remarkable.  The potato taco at Senor Fish is better, in my opinion.  In fact, I preferred the fresh & delicious fish taco to the potato variety – primarily due to its simplicity & the wonderful homemade taco it was wrapped in.

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So – there you have it.  Both tacos were good enough to order again but I definitely preferred the fish one.

How anyone can list the 35 best tacos in America is beyond me.  I would have a very hard time listing the 35 best in Hollywood alone.  Taco stands are EVERYWHERE.  But there are a few more local joints on this list & I aim to try them all.  So far – the taco to beat (if you ask me) is the INSANE lobster taco here – at Benny’s in Venice – the best taco I have ever had.   Not sure how they missed that bad boy.  But – as I said – I will try the others they suggest & I will keep you posted on any changes & developments!

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Lobster taco at Benny’s in Venice.

Benny’s Tacos & Chicken Rotisserie in Venice, California

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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I am a Hollywood snob.  An east side snob.  Driving west of La Brea gives me the vapors.  The words “Beverly Hills” are greeted with a roll of my eyes.  I go years without seeing the ocean.  It is pretty twisted actually.  Matters are made worse by the fact that Miles’ favorite LA meal & favorite bar at which to linger – is Birds – right within walking distance of my home.  Here is Miles’ favorite meal there.

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That is a half chicken, loaded baked potato & baked beans.  Birds can be pretty limited in its selection if you are a pescatarian, like me.  But they added this new flatbread with mozzarella & jalapenos & I have become mildly obsessed with it.

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I love Andrew & Brooklyn, the bartenders at Birds, and so I can easily have my arm “twisted” and agree to Birds – sometimes EVERY day that Miles is here.  It has happened.

But, sometimes, when he is in town – I find occasion to venture out – sometimes even out past La Cienega.  Recently, we found ourselves in Venice.  Before I headed out there, I scoured Yelp for out best lunch options & came up with Benny’s Tacos.  It is difficult to guess what to expect from the exterior but there was parking & I am all about that.  Here is the exterior (image stolen from Benny’s site).

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On the left of the image, you see their al fresco dining area.  We meant to eat out there but the tables all seemed very unstable so we moved inside.  Here is the interior.

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And look at that cool tortilla heater thingy back there!  It rotates.

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The greatest thing about Benny’s (for me) is their wide selection of seafood & vegetarian options.  I ordered a lobster & a fish taco – grilled not fried – and Miles got some massive chicken burrito.  We got drinks, chips & some salsa from the salsa bar & chose a table.  Benny’s also serves beer & wine!  There is a little three-seater bar in there, too!

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If I lived close to Benny’s – I can promise you – Miles & would make that bar our own.

Chips & salsa were good.  Beer is served in frosted mugs.  Always a nice touch.

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Then my tacos arrived.

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That is the lobster taco on the left.  And let me tell you – that was the best Goddamn taco I have ever had in my life!  I don’t typically eat lobster because I feel really bad for them.  Seeing them in those tanks at the supermarket or in restaurants – claws bound & crawling all over each other waiting to die by being BOILED ALIVE – moves me to tears.  But, hypocritically, so did that lobster taco – as I washed it down with ice cold beer.  I kept photographing it in an effort to prolong the pleasure.  The fish taco was delicious, too, but that lobster fucker was a revelation!

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Miles was served a burrito nearly the size of a football.

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Miles pointed out that serving a burrito that size – largely filed with rice & beans (and TONS of chicken) – with additional rice & beans might be considered a rice-n-beans overkill but that is a minor complaint.  Especially for Miles – who can be very finicky about food minutia.  We both found our meals to taste fresh & clean & to be quite substantial.  I wanted to go right back up & order every other taco they offered that fit my diet but – alas – we were both stuffed.   My only complaint about Benny’s is that it is all the fuck the way in Venice – I place I have gone to more often than Venice, Italy – primarily because I have never been to Venice, Italy & that number (zero) is hard to beat.

But if you live anywhere near there – I cannot recommend highly enough that you give Benny’s a try.   They do a whole rotisserie chicken thing there, too, that we never even got into.  The menu – HERE – is far more varied than your average taco stand.  You could eat there every night for a week & never feel like you are ordering off the same menu.  And you can get likkered up, to boot!  What is stopping you?  Go there now!  And save me a seat at the bar!

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Pepper & Sesame Crusted Seared Ahi with Spicy Mayo or Wasabi Mayo & Salad with Matsuhisa Dressing

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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If you read this blog regularly, you know I burned $5 recently on a little container of micro arugula.  It is that little shamrocky looking stuff in these pictures.  I just wanted to follow up on my confession that I bought something so silly by pointing out how much mileage I am getting out of it!  It is really a pretty (and SPICY) little thing & it dresses up food spectacularly.  And it really does add flavor so – that might not be the last time I splurge on it.  So there.

There is nothing easier than this recipe.  The hardest part is finding a quality piece of fish & then ponying up the cash for it.  I got two 3/4 pound slabs at Costco recently for about $20.  That felt steep but then I saw the same fish at Gelson’s for $27 a pound so I felt better.

I felt even better when I used this stuff.  You might have already seen my pretty Sushi Tower

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which was a massive success both on the plate and in my mouth.  This seared option is also wonderful & far easier to pull off.  The two sauce options are really easy, too.  I am posting a little baby kale & arugula salad I made here, too, because it isn’t really a recipe that warrants its own post but the Matsuhisa dressing is so unbelievably delicious – I had to share it with you.  It would go well on any salad or seafood or chicken.  Crazy yummy!

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Matsuhisa Dressing

INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup finely diced sweet onion

2 TBS plus 2 tsp soy sauce

2 TBS plus 1 tsp rice vinegar

2 tsp water

1/2 tsp sugar

pinch of salt

1/4 tsp powdered mustard

pinch fresh ground pepper

4 tsp grapeseed oil

4 tsp sesame oil

DIRECTIONS

Shake together.

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OK – now onto the mayo concoctions.

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Wasabi Mayo

Blend 1/3 cup mayo with 2 tsp prepared wasabi.

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Spicy Mayo

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup mayo of your choice

2 TBS sriracha

1 tsp sesame oil

DIRECTIONS

Blend together.  If you have a squeezy bottle to put it in do – because then you can make pretty designs on the plate with the mayo.

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As to the tuna, I used a mortar & pestle to grind up

1 TBS peppercorns

1 TBS white sesame seeds

1 TBS black sesame seeds

1 tsp ground pepper

It was hard to grind them.  Next time – I will just use a pepper mill for grinding the pepper & not bother grinding the sesame seeds.

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Then – simply press your ahi into the mix.

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Press the spice mix in with your hands.  Then, on a very hot grill, sear for about two minutes on each side.

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Cut it up right away to disperse the heat & to keep it from cooking more.  Dress with your mayos & serve with Wasabi Mashed Cauliflower and/or the salad with Matsuhisa dressing!  What a fabulous, light & healthy meal!

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