Saturday, 29 November 2014

Night Noodle Markets 2014

When I first heard about the night markets, I was pretty excited (largely because Overdosa was vending) but didn't expect to have many other options. I'm so glad I went: amongst all the meat on sticks and other bits it's quite the vegan heaven - there's a few really fun options. I've been twice and have been lucky enough to sample lots of amazing food.

Chilli-passionfruit sorbet from Serendipity, a Sydney company:

I wandered past Serendipity not expecting anything plant-based but I was very wrong. They had so many options - lemon, mango, chocolate sorbet, raspberry along the normal lines - and passionfruit/chili and coconut/kaffir lime, both of which I tried. This flavour was SO GOOD. Intense passionfruit flecked with red chili pieces, but not an unpleasant heat- it hit you gently in the back of the mouth/throat and lips. It worked beautifully and was really satisfying to eat.

I didn't love the coconut/kaffir lime, but if you love lime and coconut you may well. It was pretty standard coconut milk with lime, but with an almost herbal finish - interesting, but not really my thing. Also, I found these melted faster than I like - on the short walk from the Serendipity stall up to the hill to sit and eat, the top of my tub was already melty.

These beautiful vegetarian dumplings from New Shanghai:

These were mostly filling, steamed and soft with a typical mix of veggies, a little tofu and rice noodles. But they were lovely and fresh and exactly the kind of dumpling I like.

After some questioning I discovered this spiralized potato fritter at a nearby stall was indeed vegan:

Definitely fair-esque food. It was tasty but what elevated it from the realm of Regular Deep Fried Things was the spice mix sprinkled over post-frying. The sign called it "garlic spice" and it made it far more interesting and well worth $6.

Vegan (labeled as such on the sign!) black bean dumplings from Zagyoza:

I was incredibly excited for these: anything that says 'vegan' on the sign and sounds a little more interesting than the usual offerings has me sold. But they were a bit of a disappointment - the soy-black bean sauce over the top was lovely, but the innards were just mashed black beans, somewhat like red bean paste. A vegetable mix would have been a lot better with the sauce.

Spring rolls from Let's Do Yum Cha, exactly how I like them - fresh veg-only rolls with five-spice. Not overly unique, but tasty.

I couldn't go past a Bombay Burger! Pre-squish, they look quite terrifying - but it was incredibly delicious. Overdosa didn't offer their avocado at the markets, but it will be back in future and I can't wait!

And their elephant is amazing:

The Noodle Markets are crowded, but they made for a couple of great nights out. The food is diverse and offers plenty for vegos and omnis alike - I even saw dairy-free sago puddings, so dessert is covered. It ends tomorrow and I will be sad to see it go - but there's always next year!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Shandong MaMa 2

I've been back to Shandong Mama many times over the past year since I blogged it, but I finally remembered to document a visit! They've expanded the menu and now opened up a second location (with booze!), Shandong Mama Mini, and it's great to see they're having so much success. Still only the one vegan dumpling option but now you have the option of having them fried too - and the scallion pancakes are now marked with a V! We always order the same, one order of boiled zucchini dumplings, one fried, and some scallion pancakes:
The dumplings are still the best ones I've had. They're lovely and fresh with amazingly thin tender skins, bursting with zucchini, tofu and coriander. These dumplings are fat - popping one into your mouth whole would be a challenge. But they're perfectly proportioned, and with vinegar, chili and soy sauce on every table, you can mix up your perfect dipping sauce and hoe in. The scallion pancakes, though, are an awesome side - crunchy outsides and doughy insides, although with very little scallion flavour (and almost no visible green). I was curious about how they make these until I glanced at the receipt - they're baked, which explains the thick crunch and the non-greasy outsides. For a quick, easy and delicious CBD lunch, you really can't beat Shandong Mama. The service is fast and friendly, the food is incredible and more innovative than the other dumpling places around Bourke St. I can't wait for my next excuse to go there!
Shandong MaMa
Shop 7, 200 Bourke St, Melbourne
open 11:00-9:00 Monday-Saturday, closed Sundays
Shandong Mama on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Tofu Misozuke

This post has been two months in the making! I've been fascinated by the idea of tofu misozuke (miso cured tofu) for a while: miso is one of my favourite flavours in just about anything, so I sat down during the late winter and knocked it together. After smearing my tofu with the miso mix and curing for two months approx, this is what came out: 

I really enjoy this stuff. It has a definite miso hit and the tang of a cheesy, fermented product, but is quite smooth and mild. Google suggests it's best enjoyed in the style of a nice cheese, and that's the way I've been having it - gently smeared on a water cracker or toasts. I suspect it has other uses too  -maybe smeared on a banh mi as the pate, or seared like a block of foie gras? With a block of Vegusto or A Vegan Smiles cheese, some fruit and some crackers, you'd have a perfect vegan cheese plate. The flavours can be tweaked by using different miso pastes so the idea has plenty of room for experimentation - I know I'll be making more with darker misos, as well as playing with extending the curing time.
Tofu Misozuke (very slight adaptation from Rau Om's open source recipe)

300g block tofu. Anywhere from soft to hard can work - firmer tofus will take longer but have a more interesting flavour. I chose this Momen Tofu from Woolworths and found it worked well - I wouldn't go a very spongy, dry tofu, but other than that, whatever you have.
Cure it with:
1 cup miso (I used white)
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp mirin (I didn't have sake)

Mix marinade together in a bowl until well combined.

Press your block of tofu gently for a couple of hours to remove excess moisture. Wrap it in one layer of muslin, then smear your marinade on thickly until it is completely covering the fabric. I found that I needed to pat it on rather than smear. For ease of handling, if you like, wrap another light layer of muslin around the outside, Line a Tupperware container with paper towels and pop in your tofu block. Cover it with more paper towels, seal and let sit in the fridge for 2 months, changing the paper towels when they become wet. To read more of the science about it, head to Rau Om's blog.