The Venial Vegetarian: Apologies to Asians
• I’ve never been able to get past the mental block of eating meat. I like to think that I’m logical enough that should I be stranded on a desert island with nothing to eat but cadavers, the will to live would rule supreme. I once proffered this opinion to an evangelistic vegetarian convert and she never spoke to me again. This pragmatism served me well on a recent trip to South Korea where the concept of vegetarianism is not exactly clear. “It’s just soybean”, Thomas Kang assured me, as I spread the homogenized paste on a cabbage leaf and took a bite, “with only a bit of shrimp”. Oops, sorry! He was all apologies as he guided me to fried and battered zucchini rounds. I savored the humble vegetable with relief and reached for a second one. Too bad it was battered fish.
• What’s a vegetarian to do, but cook up decidedly unauthentic alternatives guaranteed to have no fish sauce (shakes fist at Thai restaurants ) or errant morsels of meat that find their way into the wok? I know I’ve looked down my sharpish nose at those generic “curries” while guiltily making my own transgressions into a foreign cuisine. So I offer abject apologies to authentic Asian cooks everywhere, while serving up my favorite non-denominational “Asian” dinner…fast, flavorful and free of flesh.
No Recipe Tofu: The tofu is delicate, not deep fried, in this dish. Perfect for soaking up the complex flavors in the spicy sauce.
Baby Bok Choy Stir Fry: This is a recipe adapted from David Crowley ‘s blog Cooking Chat. A feast for the eye, it combines the fresh crunch of stir fried vegetables with the roasted richness of cashew.
Ginger Noodle Salad: From Shinae Choi Robinson ‘s recipe, tossed with baby greens, sesame oil and juliened ginger. I didn’t have sushi ginger (“gari”) on hand so she suggested I make my own.
For Recipes, vegetarian anecdotes and pictures of my trip to S. Korea: