Photos by Emily Caruso
One of my favorite regular features on Oh My Veggies is Make It Meatless. While I’ve never felt like I needed a vegetarian version of Salisbury steak or meatballs, it’s fun to come up with ways to make those recipes with vegetables, grains, beans or other proteins substituted for the meat. And for new vegetarians who struggle with missing their favorite foods, recreating meat-based recipes and making them meatless can make that transition so much easier.
Last week I shared a Rustic Polenta Casserole recipe from America’s Test Kitchen’s The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook; while the cookbook is full of recipes that are naturally meatless, there are also a lot of vegetarian makeovers for those of you who, like me, have a weakness for that kind of thing. What I love most about America’s Test Kitchen is the way they take the time to explain the how and why of every recipe—something that is especially helpful when it comes to meatless remakes. Shabu-shabu, bolognese, paella, albondigas and reubens are just a few of the recipes that get the “make it meatless” treatment in this cookbook.
Mee Goreng is an Indonesian noodle dish that’s traditionally made with meat and shrimp pan-fried in a sweet soy sauce. In this version, tofu replaces the meat; because Indonesian-style sweet soy sauce isn’t readily available in most supermarkets, America’s Test Kitchen uses a substitute made with molasses, brown sugar and regular soy sauce. Because the noodles are sweet, a squeeze of lime juice just before serving is essential in balancing the flavors of the dish.
A sweet-and-spicy Indonesian noodle dish from America's Test Kitchen's The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook.
- 1 pound fresh Chinese noodles
- 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 4 large shallots, 2 minced and 2 sliced thin
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons sambal oelek
- 14 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 pound bok choy, stalks and greens separated and sliced 1/2 inch thick
- 4 scallions, sliced thin on bias
- Lime wedges
- Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add noodles and cook, stirring often, until tender. Drain noodles and set aside.
- Whisk sugar, molasses, and soy sauce together in bowl. In separate bowl, combine minced shallots, garlic, and sambal oelek.
- Spread tofu over paper towel-lined baking sheet and let drain for 20 minutes. Gently pat tofu dry with paper towels, season with salt and pepper, then toss with cornstarch in bowl. Transfer coated tofu to strainer and shake gently over bowls to remove excess cornstarch. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-heat heat until just smoking. Add tofu and cook, turning as needed, until crisp and browned on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes; transfer to bowl.
- Add 1 tablespoon oil to now-empty skillet and heat until shimmering. Add sliced shallots and cook until golden, about 5 minutes; transfer to paper towel-lined plate.
- Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to now-empty skillet and heat until shimmering. Add bok choy stalks and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Clear center of skillet, add garlic mixture, and cook, mashing mixture into skillet until fragrant, about 30 seconds; stir into vegetables.
- Stir in noodles, tofu, bok choy leaves, and scallions. Whisk sauce to recombine, add to skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve with lime wedges.
If you can't find fresh Chinese noodles at your grocery store, substitute 12 ounces of dried spaghetti or linguine, cooked according to package instructions.